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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis

Remarks for Secretary Solis
Camp Pendleton Visit
UA and Marines Apprenticeship Program
San Diego, CA
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I always like to be in California, but today is really special.

Before getting to why it is so special for me, let me thank the Marines for all of your courtesies this morning.

From Colonel Marano to every Marine, I want you to know it is good to be with the finest military organization on the planet.

I extend President Obama's appreciation as well as my own for what you do.

Words simply can't express our nation's gratitude to each of you and to every one of your family members.

I would also like to take a moment to recognize so many of my dear union friends in the audience as well as so many affiliated contractors.

Thank you President Hite for being with us.

You are truly a leader in the labor movement and a champion for the working men and women in this country.

Thank you for all that you do.

I also want to thank Mike Arndt — the UA Training Director — for his leadership role on our Employment Training Administration's advisory committee and your work here at Camp Pendleton.

I feel very much at home here today for many reasons.

You see, I come from a union family.

My father was a Teamsters shop stewardand my mother worked for twenty years on an assembly line as a member of the United Rubber Workers.

And, as many of you know, the UA and I go way back. You were always there for me and I appreciate that.

Today's visit is so special for me because too often the term “supporting the troops” is an empty slogan.

What you have done here is to put meaning, real meaning, into “supporting the troops” and to know that a union is leading the nation in this regard is very, very special to me.

I was so impressed in meeting the students.

They were not only polite, but hardworking and enthusiastic.

The program here is impressive and aggressive.

The sixteen week course is difficult, but you have had virtually no attrition.

Almost every graduate has been placed in the best careers in the piping industry.

Who deserves that more? Who has earned that more than the men and women of our armed forces?

And at the Department of Labor we subscribe to this same philosophy.

I have often said... on the battlefields of war our soldiers pledge to leave no one behind. Well, this Administration pledges to leave no soldier behind.

The Department of Labor's Veterans Employment and Training Service agency has played an integral role in this mission by:

  • Provide resources and expertise to assist and prepare Veterans to bbtain meaningful careers;
  • Maximize their employment opportunities; and
  • Protect their employment rights.

And President Obama has made clear his support of our Veterans and their families.

The President has:

  • Signed an executive order establishing the Veterans Employment Initiative;
  • He has committed funding to help veterans start their own businesses;
  • And he has announced investments in contracts for veteran-owned companies to build solar energy projects at military hospitals, clinics and cemeteries;

The bottom line is — this administration understands that too many Veterans don't receive the support they've earned.

And we are committed to breaking down the silos and bureaucratic impediments at the federal level, because the work we do in Washington means nothing if we can't count on you.

Because the goals of this administration are bold.

And bold goals require thoughtful leadership — collaborative leadership from each of us.

I must say that I was impressed with how many of the students here are from the combat arms, infantry, artillery, and tanks.

These men and women sacrifice the most on the battlefield, and heartbreakingly, have the most difficulty in finding a job upon discharge.

I am not surprised that these same men and women once provided a translatable skill and the networking that is essential to finding a good job, excel in the workplace.

Our nation's infrastructure needs to be rebuilt and maintained and it is a good thing for all of us that it will be done by men and women of the highest quality and standards.

What the United Association and Marines partnership has done is awesome.

It provides at no cost to the individual Marine or the government the nation's finest training infrastructure to the men and women of our armed forces and guarantees placement in the best jobs in the piping industry.

Every graduate has been placed with the exception of a handful that has decided to re-enlist or go on to college. What a great record!

And you have done much more.

I know what I witnessed here today will expand beyond Camp Pendleton to other Marine posts and stations.

The Navy base here in San Diego is slated to begin the program soon and the Army is expected to join in.

President Hite, I know the President has already appointed you to several boards, but I hope you have more time.

When I get back I am going to suggest to the President that we send you across the country recruiting other unions and industries to emulate the United Association.

What you and the Marines have done is remarkable.

Good for you, good for your members, good for organized labor and good for America.

So thank you for a special day.

God bless the Marines, God bless our working families and God bless America.