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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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The Secretary's Town Hall Transcript (March 9, 2010)

>> LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, PLEASE WELCOME OUR SECRETARY OF LABOR HILDA SOLIS.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> HI, HOW ARE YOU?
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> HELLO.
WOW.
HA A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT.
THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING HERE AND WELCOME TO ALL OF YOU THIS AFTERNOON.
IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE WITH ALL OF YOU AND I'M SO HAPPY TO SEE SO MUCH ENTHUSIASM ABOUT YOUR TURN OUT AND I KNOW THERE ARE HUNDREDS, I HOPE WATCHING US FROM OTHER REGIONAL OFFICES.
AND I WANT TO JUST TELL YOU THAT IT'S BEEN ONE OF MY HOPES TO HAVE BEEN ABLE TO HAVE DONE THIS A LOT SOONER, BUT YOU KNOW WE'RE GETTING OUR HOUSE IN ORDER.
SOMETIME IT TAKES TIME.
YOU HAVE TO REALLY CLEAN AND SCRUB AND SOMETIMES THE DIRT DOESN'T ALWAYS WANT TO LIFT AT THE SAME TIME SO WE'VE BEEN WORKING HARD TO GET THINGS IN ORDER AND SO I'M REALLY PLEASED THAT YOU ALL CAME AND THAT WE HAD GOOD STAFF SUPPORT TO HELP PUT THIS TOGETHER.
I KNOW THIS IS VERY SYMBOLIC OF THE KIND OF WORK THAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO HERE AT THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.
BUT YOU KNOW I DON'T DO IT ALL AND WHEN WE SCRUB AND CLEAN, I HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE HELPING ME AND I THINK IT'S A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY FOR ME TO INTRODUCE YOU TO SOME OF THE FOLKS THAT HAVE BEEN WORKING BEHIND THE SCENES AND SOME OF WHOM YOU MET AND SOME OF WHOM CAME BACK TO WORK WITH US AGAIN AT THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND AS I CALL THEIR NAME I'D LIKE THEM TO STAND.
FIRST I'D LIKE TO INTRODUCE THOSE IN MY CABINET, THE DEPUTY SECRETARY OF LABOR, SETH HARRIS.
[ APPLAUSE ]
THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF EBSA, PHYLLIS BORZI.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR POLICY, BILL SPRIGGS.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR CONGRESSIONAL AFFAIRS, BRIAN KENNEDY.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ETA, JANE OATES.
[ APPLAUSE ]
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR MSHA, JOE MAIN.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR VETS, RAY JEFFERSON.
[CHEERING]
[ APPLAUSE ]
I SEE YOU'VE BEEN WORKING HARD, RAY.
>> ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ODEP KATHY MARTINEZ.
[ APPLAUSE ]
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR OASAM.
MICHAEL KERR.
OUR SOLICITOR IS NOT HERE BUT BOY OH BOY AM I PROUD THAT SHE MADE IT AND IS ON BOARD,   PATRICIA SMITH.
OUR DEPUTY UNDERSECRETARY FOR ILAB, SANDRA POLASKI.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR OSHA, JORDAN BARAB.
SENIOR ADVISOR FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, CARL FILLICHIO.
[ APPLAUSE ]
DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR OFCCP, LORENZO HARRISON.
[CHEERING]
DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT, DR. GABRIELA LEMUS.
DIRECTOR FOR OWCP, SHELBY HALLMARK.
DEPUTY SOLICITOR, DEBORAH GREENFIELD.
[ APPLAUSE ]
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR OLMS, JOHN LUND.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR THE WOMEN'S BUREAU, LATIFAH LYLES.
ACTING DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR FOR ENFORCEMENT, THOMAS MARKEY.
ACTING INSPECTOR GENERAL, DANIEL PETROLE.
ACTING DEPUTY CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, DANIEL LACEY.
MY CHIEF OF STAFF, KATHERINE ARCHULETA.
[CHEERING]
CHIEF ECONOMIST, ALEX MAS.
SENIOR ADVISOR, MARY BETH MAXWELL.
[ APPLAUSE ]
I WANT TO THANK ALL OF THEM FOR THEIR VERY HARD WORK OVER THE LAST YEAR AND I THINK WE ALL HAVE A GREAT TEAM, DON'T YOU AGREE?
LET'S GIVE THEM A ROUND OF APPLAUSE.
AND WE'VE BEEN RATHER BUSY THIS FIRST YEAR AND I CAN TELL YOU WE HAVE MANY ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
A YEAR WHERE WE SEE SO MANY INCREDIBLE THINGS HAPPENING TO OUR WORKING FAMILIES. A YEAR WHERE WE HAVE MADE CHANGES INSIDE THE BUILDING FROM NEW SECURITY PROCEDURES TO MAKING THE FRANCES PERKINS BUILDING MORE ACCESSIBLE AND WELCOMING TO THE PUBLIC, AS IT SHOULD BE.
THIS IS A PUBLIC BUILDING.
RIGHT?
AS WE BEGIN OUR SECOND YEAR TOGETHER, I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO TALK ABOUT SOME OF THOSE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF OUR FIRST YEAR AND AS YOU KNOW, JUST WEEKS AFTER TAKING OFFICE, PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNED INTO LAW THE AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT.
AS PART OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RECOVERY ACT, HERE AT DOL, THESE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE'RE ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH.
WE DISTRIBUTED WELL OVER TWO BILLION DOLLARS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE MODERNIZATION INCENTIVE PAYMENTS.
NOW THAT'S A LOT AND SOME OF YOU MAY KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.
RIGHT?
LONG IN THE SHORT OF IT IS, WE GOT PEOPLE THE ASSISTANCE THEY NEEDED AND IN RECORD TIME.
WE SERVED‑‑[ APPLAUSE ]
WE SERVED MORE THAN 2.3 MILLION WORKERS THROUGH STATE EMPLOYMENT RELATED SERVICES.
WE AWARDED WELL OVER 720 MILLION DOLLARS IN GRANTS FOR CAREER TRAINING IN CLEAN ENERGY, HEALTH IT AND INNOVATIVE SECTORS SO I AM VERY PROUD OF BEING ABLE TO HAVE THAT‑‑HOW COULD I SAY, LITTLE STRIPE ON MY SHOULDER SAYING WE WERE ABLE TO, IN RECORD TIME, TO GET MONEY OUT BECAUSE WE HAD SO MANY GOOD PEOPLE WORKING HERE OVER TIME.
TO SEE THAT THAT JOB TRAINING MONEY WAS GETTING OUT THERE AS QUICK AS WE RECEIVED IT SO I WANT TO THANK MY STAFF FOR THAT AS WELL.
WE ALL CONDUCTED WELL OVER A THOUSAND DETERMINATIONS ON TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE CASES, ACTUALLY AT 1600, WITH AN ESTIMATED 170,000 WORKERS WHO WERE ADVERSELY AFFECTED BY FOREIGN TRADE RECEIVING TAA AND EMPLOYEE BENEFIT ASSISTANCE.
THAT IS A LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WE WERE ABLE TO HELP.
THANK YOU, STAFF, FOR THAT.
WE HANDLED WELL OVER 150,000 COBRA INQUIRIES, PROCESSED CLOSE TO 12,000 APPLICATIONS FOR REVIEWS FOR PREMIUM REDUCTION DENIALS TO HELP DISLOCATED WORKERS, PAY FOR THEIR CONTINUATION OF THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE, FOR THEMSELVES AND FOR THEIR FAMILIES.
I DON'T HAVE TO TELL YOU HOW IMPORTANT THAT IS.
WE EXPANDED PROGRAMS TO SERVE DISADVANTAGED YOUTH.
WE FUNDED AN ADDITIONAL 75 YOUTHBUILD PROJECT TO PROVIDE JOB TRAINING AND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOW INCOME AND DISADVANTAGED AND AT‑RISK YOUTH BETWEEN THE AGES OF 16‑24.
SOMETHING THAT I AM VERY PROUD OF.
INVESTED WELL OVER 200 MILLION DOLLARS IN SHOVEL READY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS TO IMPROVE THE JOB CORPS FACILITIES AND SOME OF HAVE YOU SEEN THOSE YOUNGSTERS COME IN HERE EVERY NOW AND THEN AND HELP PROVIDE US WITH MEALS AND SHOW OFF THEIR TRADE, THEIR CRAFTS AND I'M VERY, VERY PROUD OF OUR JOB CORPS PROGRAM AND OUR STUDENTS.
WE PROVIDED FUNDING FOR PROJECTS THAT EMPLOYED WELL OVER 317,000 SUMMER YOUTHS THIS PAST YEAR.
WE ONLY THOUGHT WE COULD REACH 250,000, BUT WE EXCEEDED OUR GOAL.
THANKS TO YOU.
AND WE AWARDED WELL OVER 101 MILLION DOLLARS IN NATIONAL EMERGENCY GRANTS, NEARLY 59 MILLION WAS RELEASED IN 2009 PROVIDING SERVICES TO AN ESTIMATED 28,000 DISLOCATED WORKERS AND THAT'S IMPORTANT AS WELL.
BECAUSE WE DID HAVE SOME NATURAL DISASTERS AND SOME ECONOMIC DISASTERS WHERE PEOPLE LOST THEIR JOBS THROUGH NOW FAULT OF THEIR OWN.
>> AND IN ADDITION TO HIRING THESE, WE HIRED A RECORD OF 710 ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL IN THE WAGE AND HOUR DIVISION, OSHA OFCCP AND MSHA AND EBSA.
YOU HAVE THEM HERE IN OUR DEPARTMENT.
BUT WE ALSO DID THE WORK ON BEHALF OF THOSE THAT WERE SUPPOSED TO BE FIGHTING FOR.
WE ISSUED THE LARGEST FINE IN HISTORY THROUGH OSHA.
OSHA INSPECTED WORKPLACES WHERE 5.4 MILLION PEOPLE ARE EMPLOYED AND PROVIDED 34,000 INDIVIDUALS WITH ASSISTANCE AND INFORMATION.
MSHA ANNOUNCED A COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY TO END NEW CASES OF BLACK LUNG AMONG THE NATION'S COAL MINERS, AND WE RECOVERED MORE THAN 137 MILLION DOLLARS IN BACK WAGES FOR OVER 175,000 WORKERS.
THE OFFICE OF OFCCP, ENTERED INTO MORE THAN 96 CONCILIATION AGREEMENTS ON BEHALF OF MORE THAN 21,000 WORKERS, RESULTING IN BACK PAY AWARDS OF MORE THAN NINE MILLION DOLLARS FOR MORE THAN 2000 POTENTIAL JOB OFFERS.
AND WE PUBLISHED A NEW RULE ON H2A MAKING IT POSSIBLE FOR ALL THOSE WHO ARE WORKING HARD ON AMERICAN SOIL TO RECEIVE FAIR PAY WHILE AT THE SAME TIME EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR U.S. WORKERS.
THANK YOU STAFF FOR THAT FINE WORK.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> THE WORK WE DO TOUCHES SO MANY PEOPLE IN THEIR LIVES AND IN SO MANY WAYS.
THIS IS WHY I WANT TO TELL YOU A STORY ABOUT ONE OF OUR OWN EMPLOYEES HERE AT THE DOL FROM OUR CALL CENTER. THIS EMPLOYEE ANSWERED A PHONE CALL FROM A WOMAN IN COLORADO WHO HAD NOT RECEIVED HER UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS.
AND SHE HADN'T BEEN ABLE TO OBTAIN ANY OTHER EMPLOYMENT AFTER LOSING HER PRIOR POSITION.
THE CUSTOMERS STATED THAT SHE HAD NO MONEY TO FEED HER CHILDREN, COULDN'T KEEP HER ELECTRICITY GOING AND IT WOULD BE TURNED OFF AND NOW SHE DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO FILL HER PHARMACY PRESCRIPTION TO TREAT HER DEPRESSION.
THE CUSTOMER WAS CRYING THROUGHOUT THE PHONE CALL AND THREATENED NUMEROUS TIMES TO COMMIT SUICIDE.
OUR VERY OWN TANYA LOWE DID NOT WANT TO RISK PROVIDING THE CRISIS CENTER NUMBER, INSTEAD SHE CHOSE TO PROVIDE A LIVE TRANSFER OF THE CALL TO THE CUSTOMER’S LOCAL SUICIDE CRISIS CENTER TO RECEIVE HELP.
THE CALL LASTED ABOUT 35 MINUTES AND THE CRISIS CENTER WAS ABLE TO PROVIDE THE CALLER WITH $148 OF EMERGENCY FUNDS TO FEED HER KIDS AND TO FILL HER PRESCRIPTION AT THE PHARMACY.
TANYA WOULD YOU PLEASE STAND SO I CAN RECOGNIZE YOU.
>> THOSE ARE THE UNSUNG HEROES THAT WORK HERE DAY IN AND DAY OUT, AND TAKE THOSE CALLS AND DO THE VERY BEST THEY CAN TO HELP OUR CUSTOMERS, OUR PUBLIC, THE PEOPLE WHO HELP TO PAY FOR OUR JOBS.
THANK YOU TANYA.
UNFORTUNATELY, WE ENCOUNTER THESE SITUATIONS AND IT'S UP TO US TO PROVIDE SUPPORT TO A COUNTLESS NUMBER OF WORKERS WHO NEED OUR HELP.
THOSE OUT IN THE FIELD.
WE ALL KNOW THAT TOO MANY AMERICANS ARE READY AND WILLING TO FIND WORK BUT CAN'T SEEM TO FIND THAT MATCH.
SO WE HAVE TO WORK HARDER.
A FEW WEEKS AGO, JUST LIKE YOU, I HAD TO MEET WITH MY SUPERVISOR, MY BOSS.
[LAUGHTER]
PRESIDENT BARAK OBAMA AND I HAD MY FIRST YEAR REVIEW.
WE TALKED ABOUT THE GREAT WORK AND HE COMPLIMENTED THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND I THINK WE IMPRESSED HIM.
I THINK HE WAS QUITE SURPRISED TO KNOW WE COULD PUT THIS ALL TOGETHER IN SPITE OF YEARS PASSED AND WHAT WAS DONE AND WASN'T DONE, WE WERE ABLE TO MOVE AHEAD AND I CAN TELL YOU IN ALL HONESTY LOOKING DIRECTLY AT HIM, HE WAS VERY PLEASED, VERY PLEASED BECAUSE HE KNOWS THAT WE HAVE GOOD PEOPLE WORKING HERE.
VERY GOOD DEDICATED PEOPLE AND OUR WORK IS SO OMINOUS.
NOT ONLY HE, BUT ALSO THE FIRST LADY WHO'S ALSO AS YOU KNOW, THOSE OF YOU THAT HAD A CHANCE TO COME AND MEET HER, SHE SPENT TIME HERE.
WE EVEN WENT OVER HER TIME.
I THINK HER SECRET SERVICE AGENTS WERE UPSET BECAUSE SHE SPENT AN ADDITIONAL 20 TO 30 MORE MINUTES WITH US.
AFTER SHE MET WITH MOST OF YOU SHE THEN WENT DOWN TO THE CHILDCARE CENTER AND READ A BOOK, WE ALSO FED THE CHILDREN THERE THROUGH OUR JOB CORPS PROGRAM, GOOD NUTRITIONAL MEALS BECAUSE REMEMBER WE'RE FIGHTING OBESITY AND MALNUTRITION, RIGHT?
[ APPLAUSE ]
AND BEFORE SHE PARTED,I SAID, WELL, NOW, MICHELLE, WE HAVE TO LEAVE BECAUSE YOUR OFFICERS ARE GIVING ME THE SIGNAL.
AND SHE SAID WELL I'M NOT LEAVING UNTIL I GET A HUG FROM ALL THESE KIDS AND SHE SAID THAT.
THAT'S A QUOTE.
[LAUGHTER]
AND I'LL BE HONEST, SHE WAS JUST OVERWHELMED TO SEE THE KIND OF SUPPORT THAT WE PROVIDE AS A SERVICES THAT THE CHILDCARE CENTER PROVIDES HERE AND ALL THE EMPLOYEES THAT CAME OUT TO GREET HER.
SHE'S GOING TO‑‑SHE'S A TREMENDOUS PERSON, A LEADER FOR US AS WELL AND I'M HAPPY SHE CAME HERE AND I HEAR FROM HER STAFF THAT SHE WAS VERY, VERY, IMPRESSED WITH THE KIND OF RECEPTION THAT SHE RECEIVED HERE.
THANKS TO ALL OF YOU.
>> I KNOW WE'RE ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF TRYING TO HELP THOSE PEOPLE THAT HAVE LOST THEIR JOBS; WHETHER THEY'RE WORKERS HERE OR IN NEIGHBORHOODS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, HELPS TO ALSO PROVIDE PROTECTIONS FOR WORKERS IN OTHER COUNTRIES, THE PRIORITY THOUGH IS HERE, MAKING SURE THAT WE MAKE THOSE CONNECTIONS FOR PEOPLE.
I SEE OUR MISSION IS ONE OF ENHANCING INFORMATION, REFERRAL, ASSISTANCE AND I LOVE IT WHEN I HEAR STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE THAT GO AN EXTRA MILE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN SOMEBODY'S LIFE.
WHEN I GO TO ONE STOP CENTERS AROUND THE COUNTRY AND I SEE THE KIND OF CUSTOMER SERVICE, BUT REALLY SENSITIVITY, THAT SO MUCH REQUIRED THESE DAYS BECAUSE EVERYBODY'S SHORT, EVERYBODY'S SHORT AND FEELING‑‑I'M NOT GETTING WHAT I NEED DONE.
I'M NOT GETTING THAT JOB OR I'M NOT GETTING THAT INFORMATION, I NEED TO GET CHILDCARE OR TRANSPORTATION, I KNOW THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT WORK FOR US IN THOSE CENTERS THAT ARE HELPING US THAT ARE HELPING TO BRIDGE THAT GAP TO SENSITIZE AND BE A NEW FACE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND I'M VERY, VERY, PROUD OF THEM.
I'M VERY PROUD ALSO OF OUR WORKER PROTECTION STAFF.
THE FACT THAT I CAN EVEN CALL PEOPLE WHO HAVE‑‑WHOSE FAMILIES HAVE EXPERIENCED LOSS IN MINING INCIDENTS OR IF IT WASN'T CALLED TO MY ATTENTION, I‑‑I WOULDN'T HAVE KNOWN THAT I COULD ACTUALLY SPEAK TO THE SPOUSES OF SOME MINERS THAT LOST THEIR LIVES.
MINERS AND FOLKS THAT WORKED IN THE REFINERY, I'M SORRY‑‑REFINERY IN CONNECTICUT.
BUT WHAT WAS MORE COMPELLING TO ME WAS TO BE ABLE TO JUST SAY, WE CARE, AND WE'RE GOING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT AND WE'RE GOING TO WORK ON THESE ISSUES.
AND PART OF WHAT I FEEL MOST PROUD OF IS THAT WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO NOW ARE PAYING ATTENTION TO US.
TO THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, NOT THAT THEY HAVEN'T BUT THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE AROUND US IN THE CAPITOL IN THOSE IMPORTANT PLACES THAT HELP TO PROVIDE THE FUNDING AND SUPPORT TO BRING OUR AGENCY BACK TO WHERE IT SHOULD BE, TO THE APPROPRIATE LEVEL OF FUNDING AND HOPEFULLY MORE BECAUSE PEOPLE RESPECT THE WORK THAT YOU ALL DO AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT NOBODY CAN TAKE AWAY AT THE END OF THE DAY.
SO PLEASE WEAR THAT AS A BADGE OF HONOR AS I DO.
I AM DEEPLY, DEEPLY TOUCHED TO BE ABLE TO SERVE IN THIS POSITION AND EVERY SINGLE DAY I WAKE UP, I DO THINK ABOUT THOSE PEOPLE THAT DON'T HAVE JOBS.
PEOPLE THAT ARE STRUGGLING AND YOUNGSTERS WHO ARE SAYING, MOM, DAD, WHY?
WHY DID WE LOSE OUR HOUSE?
WHY CAN'T YOU FIND A JOB?
THINGS AREN'T THE SAME ANYMORE AND I HAVE TO ALSO BE OUT THERE, THAT FACE, REPRESENTING THE ADMINISTRATION AND DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND TRYING TO TELL THEM THAT WE CARE AND THAT WE HAVE SERVICES AVAILABLE FOR THEM AND I'LL TELL YOU THE BEST, THE BEST PERSON TO DO THAT IS YOU.
THE EMPLOYEES WHO WORK FOR US ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND THE PEOPLE WHO PROVIDE THAT SERVICE AND WHETHER YOU WORK HERE IN A CUBICLE AND MAYBE YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE A WINDOW TO SEE THE SUN COME IN, KNOW THAT THE SUN IS SHINING ON YOU.
[LAUGHTER]
KNOW THAT I CARE AND WE CARE.
[ APPLAUSE ]
ENOUGH SAID.
I CAN GO ON.
I'M ALREADY BEING TOLD I BETTER CUT IT.
SO WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO NOW IS TAKE SOME QUESTIONS THAT CAME MY WAY THROUGH THE INTERNET.
AND THEN WE'LL OPEN IT UP AND HAVE A CHANCE TO CHAT WITH YOU AND IF WE DON'T GET A CHANCE TO TAKE EVERYBODY'S QUESTIONS, WHICH HOPEFULLY WE'LL TRY TO GET TO ALL OF YOU.
IF YOU DON'T THEN CAN YOU SEND THOSE IN TO US AS WELL, AND THINK ABOUT HOW YOU CAN HELP IMPROVE THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.
BY MAKING YOUR IDEAS AND SUGGESTIONS AVAILABLE TO US AND I HAVE AS I SAID EARLIER, VERY TOP NOTCH FOLKS HERE WHO MADE A SACRIFICE ALSO TO SERVE, HERE WITH US, SO THEY'RE AVAILABLE ALSO TO HELP YOU.
SO, WITH THAT, LET'S BEGIN.
OKAY?
>> HOPEFULLY I WON'T FALL.
>> [LAUGHTER]
>> WE'RE GOING TO START WITH THE FIRST QUESTION THAT I RECEIVED FROM AN ETA OFFICE IN ATLANTA ASKING IF WE HAD A PLAN TO TRANSITION ARRA POSITIONS FROM TEMPORARY TO PERMANENT?
GOOD QUESTION.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE MONEY RUNS OUT?
WELL, I'VE ALERTED MY AGENCIES THAT WE NEED TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO MAKE OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE FOR THOSE PEOPLE THAT CAME AND SERVED WITH US INITIALLY AS WE STARTED OUT THE ROLE OUT OF THE ARRA PROGRAM AND THE FUNDS AND WE HAVE SOME GOOD TALENTED PEOPLE THAT I WANT TO KEEP AND CONTINUE TO GROW OUR BASE.
SO I DEFINITELY WILL WORK HARD TO SEE THAT WE TRY TO MAKE THOSE OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE AND HOPEFULLY WITH YOUR HELP, WE CAN CONVINCE THOSE PEOPLE THAT DETERMINE WHAT OUR BUDGETS ARE THAT WE'RE DOING THE RIGHT THING AND THAT WE CAN GROW.
SO, I HOPE YOU'LL JOIN ME IN THAT.
I HOPE THAT ANSWERED YOUR RESPONSE ATLANTA.
THAT'S THE ETA OFFICE.
NEXT QUESTION, I HAVE, THIS IS FROM LOCAL 648 ASKING WHAT STEPS WE’RE TAKING TO ASSESS EMPLOYEE TURNOVER IN SPECIFIC REGIONS AND AGENCIES IN DOL.
>> WELL I'M A LITTLE HEARTENED TO HEAR THAT IF THERE'S TURNOVER BECAUSE I WANT TO KNOW WHERE IT'S HAPPENING AND I WANT TO MAKE SURE MY MANAGEMENT STAFF IS FULLY AWARE OF THAT AND WHAT SOME OF THE ISSUES ARE SO I WOULD ASK YOU TO PLEASE LET US KNOW IF THERE'S ANY CASES IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH US, AND OF COURSE, THAT INFORMATION CAN BE CONFIDENTIAL.
I KNOW THAT ALL PLACES HAVE MANAGEMENT ISSUES, SOMETIMES IT'S THE SLIGHTEST THING, SOMETIMES IT'S BIGGER THAN WHAT WE IMAGINE, BUT I CAN TELL YOU THIS, I'M LOOKING FOR BEING ABLE TO RECRUIT GOOD PEOPLE TO COME AND WORK FOR US BECAUSE WE STILL HAVE AN AGENDA TO TRY TO BRING IN MORE STAFF, BUT I'M ALSO VERY FOCUSED ON TRYING TO SEE HOW WE CAN IMPROVE THE JOB SKILLS AND CAREER LADDERS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SEEK THAT OPPORTUNITY HERE AND WE WANT TO BE AS HELPFUL AS WE CAN IN THAT BECAUSE I KNOW MANY OF YOU HAVE BEEN HERE FOR YEARS AND MAYBE DIDN'T HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY AND THERE ARE SOME NEWER FOLKS THAT CERTAINLY WANT TO KNOW ABOUT HOW TO GET INTO A CAREER ENHANCED PROGRAM AND I AM TOTALLY SUPPORTIVE OF THAT, SOMEONE WHO KNOWS ALSO THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ABLE TO BE ELEVATED, GIVEN THE NEW OPPORTUNITY, A NEW ROLE IN YOUR OFFICE.
WITH THAT ALSO, HOPEFULLY A GOOD WORKING ENVIRONMENT AND SUPPORT FROM YOUR MANAGEMENT AND SUPERVISORIAL STAFF SO I HOPE THAT ANSWERS PART OF THAT QUESTION.
ANOTHER QUESTION I RECEIVED AN EMPLOYEE FROM OUR SAN FRANCISCO OFFICE, SENT IN A COMMENT, CLAIMS THAT THE SELECTION PROCESS FOR ARBITRATORS AT DOL TO HANDLE‑‑THAT CLAIMING THAT THE SELECTION PROCESS FOR ARBITRATORS AT DOL TO HANDLE LABOR MANAGEMENT DISPUTES IS UNBALANCED.
THE SELECTION OF ARBITRATORS HAS ALREADY BEEN ADDRESSED IN OUR COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS AND IT IS A BALANCING ACT AND OF COURSE WE WANT TO FIND OUT WHERE WE CAN MAKE IMPROVEMENTS BUT AGAIN HEARING FROM YOU DIRECT COMMUNICATION TO OUR MANAGEMENT STAFF, I THINK WOULD BE MOST HELPFUL.
SO I WOULD ENCOURAGE THAT. AND ANOTHER COMMENT I RECEIVED AN E‑MAIL FROM VANG ANG, FROM BLS, SHE IS ENCOURAGING CROSS AGENCY TRAINING OF DOL EMPLOYEES IN ORDER TO LEARN ABOUT THE OPERATIONS OF OTHER AGENCIES AND ALLOWING EMPLOYEES TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE INNER CONNECTIVITY OF THE DEPARTMENT.
I THINK THAT'S A GOOD OBSERVATION AND I WOULD HOPE THAT WE'RE DOING IT ALL THE TIME.
I KNOW SINCE I'VE ARRIVED HERE IN MY STAFF, WE TRY TO THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX, TO REALLY THINK ABOUT WHERE WE CAN CREATE BRIDGES TO OTHER DIVISIONS AND NOT JUST THINK ABOUT OURSELVES AS OUR LITTLE CUBICLE, OUR SILO THAT WE CAN'T TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE OR THEY CAN'T DO THAT JOB BECAUSE THAT'S MY JOB.
NO, HOW CAN WE MAKE OUR JOB MORE EFFECTIVE SO WE REACH MORE PEOPLE AND WE STREAM LINE THE BUREAUCRACY.
THAT'S WHAT I HOPE TO DO.
WE'VE ALREADY ENTERED INTO SEVERAL MOUs WITH DIFFERENT FEDERAL AGENCIES WITH HUD.
THAT WAS ONE OF FIRST MOUS THAT WE GOT OUT OF THE BALL PARK AND THAT WAS TO HELP HUD UNDERSTAND THAT WE TALK ABOUT JOB TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR DISADVANTAGED FOLKS THAT LIVE IN PUBLIC HOUSING THAT OUR PRIORITY IS TO HIRE UP THOSE PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN PUBLIC HOUSING AS AN EXAMPLE AND TRAIN THEM IN OUR PROGRAMS SO THEY TOO CAN HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET EDUCATION AND TRAINING WHAT BETTER WAY TO DO IT THAN FOCUSING ON GOVERNMENT RESOURCES ARE ALREADY OUT THERE, THAT'S ONE EXAMPLE.
SO WE WANT MORE IDEAS AND SOME OF HAVE YOU BEEN HERE FOR A WHILE SO YOU KNOW WHAT THE ACTIVITIES THAT HAVE BEEN AROUND THAT GOT BURIED A WHILE BACK OR MAYBE DUST THEM OFF OR COME UP WITH NEW IDEAS SO I'M OPEN TO HEARING ABOUT THAT. THIS QUESTION IS AN E‑MAIL FROM EDWARD CHOW, MORE OF A COMMENT FROM WAGE AND HOUR. HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE DOL AND OTHER AGENCIES WORK CLOSELY TOGETHER AND BECOME MORE ENGAGED WITH KEY STAKEHOLDERS AT SISTER FEDERAL AGENCIES AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS, I THINK I ANSWERED THAT ALREADY.
WE'RE OPEN, WE WANT TO WORK WITH EVERYONE; I THINK WITH THAT, I WILL TAKE QUESTIONS NOW, WE HAVE STAFF, I BELIEVE THAT HAVE MIKES AND WE'RE OPEN FOR QUESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE.
>> I'M JANE WALTON WITH THE WOMEN'S BUREAU AND I WANT TO THANK FOR YOUR LEADERSHIP.
WE HAVE WONDERFUL LEADERSHIP IN LATIFA AND SARA.
MY QUESTION IS WHETHER WE‑‑WE OFTEN HAVE TO ANSWER E‑MAILS IN THE PUBLIC ALSO AND I'M WONDERING WHETHER IT'S POSSIBLE TO FOLLOW UP WITH THE PEOPLE THAT WE RESPOND TO.
WE OFTEN GIVE THEM ADVICE BUT DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENS UNLESS THEY CHOOSE TO CONTACT US AND TELL US WHAT HAPPENS.
I BELIEVE THEIR IS A CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT THAT OPM HAS AND WE BARELY, I THINK THE MORALE BOOSTER TO FIND OUT HOW USEFUL OUR ADVICE WAS.
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
YOU NEED TO HAVE FEEDBACK.
I WOULD THINK EVERYBODY HERE COULD BENEFIT FROM SOMETHING SIMILAR SO I AGREE.
WE CAN HELP YOU WITH THAT WORKING WITH OUR ADMINISTRATION HERE.
AND THANK YOU.
I WAS REMISS IN NOT INTRODUCING THE NEW DIRECTOR FOR THE WOMEN'S BUREAU, SARA DIAZ BUT SHE IS TRAVELING TODAY AND SHE'S ALREADY HIT THE GROUND RUNNING AND YOU KNOW LATIFA WHO'S HERE, HAS DONE A TREMENDOUS JOB ALREADY, WE HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE THAT ARE WAITING TO COME AND WORK WITH US AND WANT TO SEE A MORE ROBUST WOMEN'S BUREAU AND I CERTAINLY WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT ALL THE WOMEN AND MEN WHO WORK FOR US IN THE DEPARTMENT REALLY GET A CHANCE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT OUR ROLE IS WITH THE WOMEN'S BUREAU.
WE PROVIDE A LOT OF INFORMATION, A LOT OF RESOURCES, FINANCIAL LITERACY AND TERMS OF HOW YOU ACCESS THAT AND WE'RE THINKING ABOUT NEW WAYS OF REACHING DOWN TO YOUNGER PEOPLE TO YOUNGER WOMEN IN THE PROFESSION TO MAKE SURE WE GET MORE YOUNG WOMEN, MINORITY WOMEN LOOKING INTO MATH, SCIENCE, CAREERS.
NONTRADITIONAL‑‑I HATE THAT WORD, NONTRADITIONAL WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE BARRED FROM LOOKING AT ANY TYPE OF JOB AND THAT'S WHY WE HAVE SO MUCH WORK TO DO AS THE ADMINISTRATION MOVES FORWARD AND MAKES THE ENVIRONMENT MORE CONDUCIVE FOR WORKING WOMEN, FAMILIES AND THINGS OF THAT NATURE THAT ALL AFFECT US IN THE WORKPLACE.
THANK YOU.
>> YES?
>> WE NEED A MIKE HERE.
MY NAME'S MATT RUSSELL FROM BLS, AND MINE'S MAYBE LESS OF A QUESTION AND MORE OF A COMMENT THAT DOL LACKS POLICY AND GUIDANCE AND THE ABILITY TO PROCESS RESERVISTS THAT HAVE BEEN CALLED TO ACTIVE DUTY.
THEIR DIFFERENTIAL PAY, IT'S BEEN A YEAR SINCE THE OPM DIRECTIVE AND WE STILL CAN'T PROCESS THAT.
>> WE HAVE RAY JEFFERSON HERE, RAY, WITH THAT THIS IS OUR JOB.
WE'VE GOT TO HELP.
WE GOT TO HELP.
[LAUGHTER]
HE GOT THE MOST APPLAUSE.
SO, YOU KNOW?
TELL ME SOMETHING, RIGHT?
>> WELL, MADAM SECRETARY WE JUST HAD A MEETING WITH DIRECTOR BARRY THIS AFTERNOON TO TALK ABOUT HOW WE'RE MAKING PROGRESS IN A VARIETY OF THINGS INVOLVING VETERANS WITHIN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SO WHAT I WOULD LOVE TO DO FIRST IS IF WE COULD SPEAK RIGHT AFTER THIS AND LET ME SEE WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM YOUR SITUATION TO SOLVE OTHER SIMILAR SITUATIONS AT DOL AND THEN SETH, I WILL GIVE YOU A BACK BRIEF TOMORROW.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> WE HAVE A QUESTION RIGHT NOW.
>> OKAY.
>> HELLO, I'M ELEANOR LAUDERDALE AND WE'VE MET BEFORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNION HERE AFGE LOCAL 12.
AND THE PRESIDENT AL SISTANY AND WE HAVE ONE BURNING QUESTION.
WE'VE BEEN APPRECIATIVE THAT WE NOW HAVE SOME PEOPLE ON BOARD, SOME ASSISTANT SECRETARIES THAT WE CAN SPEAK TO THAT WE CAN GET A LOT OF THINGS DONE WITH AND WE'RE APPRECIATIVE OF THAT AND SO WE DON'T WANT TO SEEM UNAPPRECIATIVE BUT WE'VE HAD ONE BURNING QUESTION THAT MOST OF THE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ASKING US AND THAT IS:  WHY ARE WE STILL OPERATING UNDER THAT PORTION OF THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT THAT WAS SHOVED DOWN OUR THROATS BY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION THAT CHANGED OUR CORE HOURS TO START AT 9:30 AS OPPOSED TO 10:00 O’CLOCK.
WHY HAVE WE BEEN UNABLE IN THIS ENTIRE YEAR TO JUST CHANGE IT BACK TO 10:00 O'CLOCK?
WHICH WE THOUGHT WOULD BE A VERY SIMPLE TASK.
WE DIDN'T THINK IT WAS A LOT TO ASK AND PEOPLE ARE COMING TO US AND SAYING THIS ADMINISTRATION IS SUPPOSED TO BE FAMILY FRIENDLY AND THEY'RE SAYING THAT'S NOT FRIENDLY WHEN THEY HAVE TO LEAVE FOR WORK BEFORE THEY GET THEIR KIDS ON THE BUS OR THEY HAVE TO LEAVE FOR WORK BEFORE THEIR CARE TAKER COMES IN TO TAKE CARE OF AN ELDERLY PARENT, IT'S THAT‑‑THAT HALF HOUR MAKES A DIFFERENCE, A DIFFERENCE AND THERE ARE‑‑DISABLED PEOPLE WHO DON'T WANT TO TAKE THE METRO ESPECIALLY THIS METRO, [LAUGHTER]
‑‑YOU KNOW.
>> THAT'S A DOT QUESTION.
>> NO, I'M NOT GOING TO ASK TO YOU ANSWER THAT ONE.
YOU KNOW DURING‑‑DURING RUSH HOUR.
THEY WOULD RATHER HAVE THAT EXTRA HALF HOUR AND SO, PEOPLE HAVE ASKED US REPEATEDLY, HAVE WE ASKED YOU AND WE SAID, WE HAVE ASKED.
WE CAN'T DEMAND.
SO WE SIMPLY WANT TO KNOW WHY ARE WE STILL HAVING TO OPERATE UNDER WHAT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION FORCED UPON US.
THANK YOU.
>> WELL THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION, BUT LET'S PUT SOMETHING ASIDE.
THIS IS A NEW DAY, NEW ADMINISTRATION AND WE ARE TRYING VERY HARD TO MAKE AS MANY IMPROVEMENTS THROUGHOUT THIS HEADQUARTERS HERE, BUT ALSO IN THE REGIONAL OFFICES AND I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOUR LEADERSHIP AND I KNOW MY ASSIGNED OASAM PERSON, MICHAEL KERR, CAN FOLLOW UP AND RESPOND. WE WANT TO HEAR HOW WE CAN TRY TO MAKE SOME IMPROVEMENTS HERE.
I UNDERSTAND THAT THERE'S SO MANY DEMANDS, YOU KNOW WE HEAR IT FROM THE CUSTOMERS, THE CLIENTS, THE PEOPLE THAT WE SERVE, IT'S HARD FOR THEM TO GET AROUND TO GET TO PLACES ALSO.
SO, I DO HAVE‑‑‑I DO HAVE EMPATHY THERE AND I DO KNOW WE HAVE TO TRY TO MAKE THINGS BETTER FOR OUR EMPLOYEES TO BE ABLE TO DO THEIR JOB EFFECTIVELY.
SO I'M SURE WE'LL BE ABLE TO FOLLOW UP.
>> MICHAEL DO YOU WANT TO RESPOND TO ANYTHING?
>> THE ONLY THING I WILL ADD IS WHEN THE UNION OPENED UP THIS ISSUE, THEY OPENED UP A NUMBER OF OTHER ISSUES IN THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT AND WE'RE PREPARED TO GO TALK ABOUT THOSE AS A PACKAGE IN BARGAINING AND WE WOULD LIKE TO GO TO BARGAINING.
>> IS THAT A STARTER?
>> NO.
>> NO.
>> SO YOU DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS.
OKAY.
>> WE CAN SPEAK INDIVIDUALLY ABOUT THIS.
OKAY?
BECAUSE I THINK THERE ARE OTHER OPTIONS THAT PERHAPS FOLKS MAY NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND AND WE WANT THE BEST FOR YOU.
WE DO.
AND I FEEL VERY PROUD WHEN I TRAVEL ROUND THE DIFFERENT REGIONAL OFFICES, THE SUPPORT THAT I'M HEARING FROM OUR OTHER LOCALS ALSO.
THEY'RE SAYING IT'S A NEW DAY.
THEY LIKE THE TREATMENT THAT THEY'RE RECEIVING FROM OUR FOLKS OUT IN THE FIELD.
SO I FEEL VERY BLESSED WHEN I HEAR THAT, WHEN I WAS AT THE AFL‑CIO CONFERENCE AND HEARD FROM THE AFGE AND UNSOLICITED, UNSOLICITED, I WAS VERY PLEASED TO HEAR THAT BECAUSE THAT AT THE END OF THE DAY MAKES A DIFFERENCE FOR ME AND I THINK FOR YOU TOO, FOR YOUR MEMBERS.
THANK YOU.
>> WE HAVE MORE, COME BACK HERE AND WE'RE TRYING TO MOVE IT AROUND, FOLKS.
>> HI, I'M SUSAN [INAUDIBLE] FROM THE OFFICE OF DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT POLICY.
MY QUESTION COMMENT IS TARGETED DISABILITIES AND THE HIRING AT DOL, THERE'S ONLY ABOUT A 1 PERCENT HIRING OF PEOPLE WITH TARGETED DISABILITIES AT DOL AND MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT IT HAS GONE DOWN IN THE LAST 10 YEARS AND I WAS JUST HOPING THAT YOU COULD ENCOURAGE THE HIRING MANAGERS THROUGHOUT DOL TO STRONGLY CONSIDER CANDIDATES WITH DISABILITIES WHEN THEY ARE HIRING AND SCHEDULING CANDIDATES BECAUSE WE REALLY NEED TO PROMOTE MORE EQUITABLE HIRING SITUATION.
>> WELL, THAT'S A REALLY GOOD QUESTION AND AS YOU KNOW, WE HAVE A STRONG COMMITMENT TO MAKING OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE FOR THE DISABLED COMMUNITY AND ESPECIALLY HERE IN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
THAT'S A WHOLE NEW INITIATIVE THAT WE'RE UNDERTAKING WITH THE OFFICE, WITH OPM AND WITH ODEP AND I KNOW KATHY MARTINEZ SERVES US VERY WELL HAS BEEN ONE BIG ADVOCATE FOR THAT AND I CERTAINLY REALIZE THAT BUT I WANT TO ASK, I WANT TO ASK SETH HARRIS IF HE'LL PLEASE COMMENT ON THAT AS WELL.
>> LET ME SAY THANK YOU FOR THE QUESTION, SECRETARY SOLIS HAS MADE CLEAR TO US THAT THE PRIORITY THAT YOU IDENTIFIED AS A PRIORITY FOR THIS LEADERSHIP TEAM EMPLOYING A DIVERSE WORKFORCE, HIRING A DIVERSE WORKFORCE AND EMPLOYING A LARGER PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AND ODEP IS TAKING A CRITICAL ROLE IN THIS AND LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENED RECENTLY TO ACCOMPLISH THAT RESOLVE AND LET ME SAY THERE'S A GOOD BIT MORE TO COME.
ODEP, WORKING WITH OPM.
ARE SPONSORING A HIRING EXPO ON APRIL 26th, TARGETED TO SCHEDULE A ELIGIBILITY INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES TO TRY AND INCREASE THE REPRESENTATION OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES FROM THE FEDERAL WORKFORCE AS A WHOLE AS WELL AS IN THE LABOR DEPARTMENT.
WE HELD A TRAINING SESSION ALONG WITH OPM FOR FEDERAL HIRING MANAGERS FOCUSED ON HIRING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AND 600, CATHY CORRECT HE IF I'M WRONG, 625 FEDERAL HIRING MANAGERS, INCLUDING MOST OF THEM HERE AT THE LABOR DEPARTMENT PARTICIPATED IN THAT TRAINING SO THAT'S JUST ONE PIECE OF WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO.
WE'RE‑‑LET ME JUST SAY I GET A MONTHLY REPORT, THE SECRETARY GETS REGULAR REPORTS ON HOW WE'RE DOING WITH RESPECT TO HIRING OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, AFRICAN AMERICANS, LATINOS OTHER GROUPS INSIDE DOL, PART OF THE DOL FAMILY.
WE'RE QUITE TIGHTLY FOCUSED ON THIS AND COMMITTED TO IMPROVING THE NUMBERS AT THE DEPARTMENT AND GOVERNMENT WIDE.
>> THANK YOU.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> GOOD AFTERNOON.
MY NAME IS MARCIA WITH THE BUREAU OF INTERNATIONAL LABOR AFFAIRS AND I HAVE A COMMENT AND A SUGGESTION.
THE COMMENT IS TO THANK YOU FOR YOUR LEADERSHIP AND EFFORTS IN IMPROVING COMMUNICATIONS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.
INTERNALLY.
I THINK THAT THE EFFORTS THAT YOU HAVE UNDERTAKEN HAVE BEEN GREAT.
THE ELEVATOR POSTERS, I LOVE THEM.
I LOOK FORWARD TO COMING TO WORK EVERY MORNING, EVERY MONDAY AND EVERY MONDAY MORNING.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> AND FINDING OUT SOMETHING NEW, ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT WHETHER IT IS THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS UNDER THE ARRA, OR THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE SOLICITORS OFFICE OR JUST THINGS LIKE THAT SO I'M VERY PLEASED TO SEE THAT.
I ALSO LOVE, LOVE, THE NEW LABORNET AND THE MAGAZINE.
THAT'S CARL.
CARL.
[CHEERING]
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> AND I THINK THAT YOU KNOW THESE ARE REALLY SMALL THINGS BUT THEY GO A LONG WAY IN I THINK IMPROVING MORALE AND KIND OF SHOWING THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR EMPLOYEE THAT YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT WHAT WE DO HERE EVERY DAY.
THE SUGGESTIONS, I THINK IN YOUR OPENING REMARKS YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU WANTED TO MAKE THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR MORE ACCESSIBLE AND MORE WELCOMING TO THE PUBLIC AND I THINK THIS IS TRUE.
IF I CAN MAKE A SUGGESTION ABOUT THE HALL OF FAME IN THE NORTH PLAZA, I WAS TAKING A WALK THROUGH THERE.
I HAVE TO GO TO THE DAY CARE AND VISIT MY KIDS AND I WALK THROUGH THERE AND ALMOST ON A DAILY BASIS AND I MUST SAY THAT IT REQUIRES A LITTLE BIT OF UPGRADING AND PERHAPS‑‑[LAUGHTER]
‑‑JOINING THE 21st CENTURY.
AND ALSO I WILL SUGGEST THAT THERE'S A LACK OF WOMEN AND MINORITIES AND PEOPLE OF COLOR IN THERE.
AND I CAN ONLY SAY THAT I‑‑THERE ARE‑‑THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE WORTHY SERVING TO BE INCLUDED IN THERE THAT WOMEN AND PEOPLE OF COLOR HAVE CONTRIBUTED SIGNIFICANTLY TO MAKING THE AMERICAN WORKFORCE AND THE AMERICAN WORKPLACE A BETTER PLACE FOR ALL OF US, THANK YOU.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> YOU MUST HAVE BEEN READING MY MIND BECAUSE WHEN I WALKED INTO THIS BUILDING LAST YEAR, AND I WAS GETTING THE GRAND TOUR FROM CARL, TO SEE WHERE ALL THE HIDDEN JEWELS WERE AND WE WALKED PAST THAT DISPLAY AND I THOUGHT, OH MY GOD, THIS IS FROM THE 1950S AND WE NEED TO REALLY DO AND WERE HIGHLIGHT NEW FOLKS SO I AGREE WITH YOU I KNOW PART OF IS JUSTIFYING THE FUNDING. HEARING THE IDEAS AND THAT MIGHT BE SOMETHING WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR IDEAS ABOUT THAT.
IF YOU CAN GO TO OTHER DEPARTMENTS I'VE SEEN MORE ACTIVE DISPLAYS THAT ARE VERY, VERY, AND MAKE IT RESEARCH AND WHO THESE INDIVIDUALS WE SET ASIDE SO I AGREE WITH YOU AND THANK YOU FOR THAT COMMENT.
HOW MANY OF YOU HERE HAVE GONE ON TO SEE OUR NEW FRANCES MAGAZINE?
>> THOSE HANDS THAT WENT UP, DO YOU LIKE IT OR NOT?
IT'S I THINK REALLY TAILORED FOR FOLKS HERE IN OUR BUILDING BUT IT GIVES A GOOD OBSERVATION AND SENSITIVITY AS TO PROMOTING PEOPLE'S IDEAS HERE WHICH I LIKE.
I CRACK UP WHEN I SEE SOME OF THE RECIPES THAT ARE PUT ON AND SOME OF THE OTHER THINGS BUT I LOVE TO SEE THE VISUALS.
I'M A VISUAL PERSON SO I RELATE TO THAT AND CERTAINLY WANT TO HEAR MORE IDEAS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE OF FURTHER WAYS ABOUT REACHING TO YOU ALL AND HOW WE CAN DO THAT BETTER.
WITH RESPECT TO THE POSTERS, YOU'LL NOTICE THAT THEY'RE NOT MISSING AS MUCH AS THEY WERE BECAUSE THEY WOULD LAST MAYBE TWO DAYS AND SOMEBODY WOULD TAKE THEM AND MAYBE THAT'S BECAUSE YOU LIKE THE POSTERS, I'M ASSUMING?
I HOPE.
BUT WE ALSO WANT TO KNOW IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT.
YOU KNOW LET US KNOW.
POSTERS IS JUST ONE WAY OF HIGHLIGHTING AN ITEM OR A TOPIC OR MAYBE WE'RE CELEBRATING FOR EXAMPLE, THIS MONTH IS WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH SO WE'RE ISSUING A POSTER IN ABOUT A WEEK BUT WE WANT TO CELEBRATE AS MUCH AS WE CAN ALL THOSE OCCASIONS THAT CUT ACROSS EVERYBODY'S FAMILY TIES AND OCCASIONS, HOLIDAYS OR SPECIAL THINGS OF SIGNIFICANCE.
SO WE THINK THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT.
IT'S MORE OF AN APPRECIATION FOR US AND OUR FAMILY, I THINK.
SO I THINK THAT'S SOMETHING WE WANT TO CONTINUE TO DO.
WE HAVE TWO‑‑WE CAN TAKE TWO MORE QUESTIONS.
OKAY.
>> HI, I'M DAVE RICHARDSON FROM THE CPI, BLS, AND I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR THE BLIZZARD AWARD, I WANT TO POST IT IN CPI SO EVERYBODY THAT WORKED THAT DAY CAN FIND THEIR NAMES ON IT.
[LAUGHTER]
I'D LIKE TO FOLLOW ON WITH SOMETHING THAT ELEANOR SAID A BIT.
UNDER THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION THERE WERE A LOT OF NEGATIVE CHANGES IN THE WORK RULES AROUND HERE, NOT JUST THE 10:00 O'CLOCK START TIME BUT ON AND ON AND ON.
THEY ALMOST CONSPIRED TO UNDERMINE MORALE HERE.
AND SO, WHAT LOCAL DID WHEN YOU CAME IN WAS ASK FOR NEGOTIATIONS TO CHANGE IT AND NOT TO CONTRADICT WHAT MR. KERNS SAID BUT THE NEGOTIATIONS ARE NOT COMPLETE, THEY'RE NOT IN PROGRESS, THEY HAVEN'T EVEN STARTED.
SO WHAT HAS HAPPENED IS THAT THEY'RE ARGUING ABOUT THE GROUND RULES FOR THE NEGOTIATIONS, ALL THIS TIME SINCE YOU'VE BEEN HERE WE'VE BEEN ARGUING ABOUT THE GROUND RULES AND HAVEN'T GOTTEN STARTED SO WITH ALL DUE RESPECT MADAM SECRETARY, I BELIEVE YOU'RE BEING BLOCKED BY SUBORDINATES IN THIS SITUATION AND I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU PLAN TO DO ABOUT IT.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> WELL, I KNOW THAT WE HAVE‑‑WE HAVE MUCH WORK TO DO, MICHAEL KERR?
>> SO A NUMBER OF ISSUES RAISED BY THE LOCAL, THEY'RE IMPORTANT ONES, THEY'RE RELATED. WE WOULD LOVE TO GO TO BARGAINING, WE ARE DOWN TO TWO OR THREE ISSUES ON GROUND RULES, SOME OF THEM I CAN'T DO FOR POLICY REASONS, AND LOCAL 12 KNOWS THAT BUT WE WOULD LOVE TO GO TO THE TABLE AND TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS AND QUITE FRANKLY WE HAVE SAID AND WOULD LIKE TO‑‑WE CAN TALK ABOUT MANY OF THESE THINGS WITHOUT ACTUALLY FORMALLY GOING TO BARGAINING SO LET'S START TALKING.
>> OKAY, WE'LL START THAT DIALOGUE, WE'LL MAKE SURE THAT HAPPENS, OKAY, WE HAVE ONE MORE LAST‑‑ONE LAST.
ALL RIGHT.
>> MADAM SECRETARY I'M VIOLET PARKER WITH OASAM, THE OFFICE OF DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT AND I WOULD LIKE TO SAY THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND PARTICIPATION IN OUR DIVERSITY SPECIAL EMPHASIS PROGRAM WE'VE HAD OVER THE YEAR AND IT'S REALLY MEANT A LOT TO THE DEPARTMENT AND THE DIVERSITY COMMUNITY, I MUST SAY ON THAT WE'VE HAD SOME VERY WONDERFUL PROGRAMS AND AS I RECALL WHEN WE HAD THE AFRICAN AMERICAN PROGRAM THIS, IS BUNDLE STATEMENT TO YOU, THAT WAS A GREAT DEAL TO HER TO HAVE YOU PARTICIPATE.
NOW PLEASE IF YOU DON'T MIND, I HAVE A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS, THE FIRST ONE IS TWO FOLD.
ONE IS WHY DO YOU FEEL DIVERSITY IS IMPORTANT IN ANY BUSINESS CASE FOR IT IN AND THE SECOND IS HOW TO GET EMPLOYEES TO ATTEND THESE PROGRAMS?
>> I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO SYMBOLICALLY BUT REALLY EMBRACE THE DIFFERENT TALENTS AND SKILLS OF THE PEOPLE THAT WE WORK FOR, NUMBER ONE, PART OF IT IS ALSO DEALING WITH THE CLIENTS AND THE FOLKS THAT WE WORK FOR AND WHO IT IS THAT'S BEHIND THAT FACE.
DO I UNDERSTAND HIM, AM I JUST, YOU KNOW JUST GOING THROUGH A ROBOTIC OR REMOTE TYPE OF BEHAVIOR, NO, WE WANT, WE WANT PEOPLE, AT LEAST MY VISION OF TRYING TO MAKE THINGS BETTER FOR FOLK SYSTEM TO HAVE A GOOD UNDERSTANDING OR TRY TO‑‑TRY TO PUT YOUR FEET IN THOSE OTHER SHOES TO SEE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE FEELING FOR EXAMPLE THE QUESTIONS ABOUT DISABILITY AND REPRESENTATION, VERY GOOD QUESTIONS, SOMETHING WE HAVE TO WORK ON, THE OTHER MAKING SURE THAT WE PROVIDE GOOD TREATMENT FOR OUR RETURNING YOUNG VETS, MEN AND WOMEN.
AND THE FACT THAT WE SHOULD BE PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE HERE WHO HAVE SOME OF THESE GOOD TALENTS AND SKILLS THAT CAN ACTUALLY HELP EMPOWER PERHAPS THEMSELVES, TO GET ENERGIZED BUT REENERGIZE YOUR COWORKERS MAYBE SHARING IDEAS AS WE SAID, GOING‑‑GOING THROUGHOUT DIFFERENT DIVISIONS, NOT STICKING TO YOUR OWN SILO.
SO COMING OUT AND HELP US INSTEAD OF THESE EVENTS, MAYBE HAVE YOU A CRITICISM THAT YOU DON'T THINK IT'S WORTH IT.
WELL, TELL ME WHY.
AND IF YOU THINK IT IS, FINE, THEN LET ME KNOW AND LET ME KNOW WHAT I'M MISSING THAT MY STAFF IS MISSING THAT WE HAVEN'T HEARD.
BECAUSE I'M ALWAYS OPEN AND AS WE GO INTO THIS YEAR, ALL I CAN TELL YOU IS I FEEL LIKE I'VE BEEN ON A ROLLER COASTER BECAUSE I THINK THAT WE HAVE SO MANY GREAT EVENTS HERE.
I MEAN, I DON'T KNOW THAT ANY OTHER CABINET MEMBER HAS HAD MANY ACTIVITIES AS WE HAVE HAD.
OPENING UP OUR BUILDING, SPONSORING PANEL DISCUSSIONS ON WOMEN AND NONTRADITIONAL FIELDS.
ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS WE PUT OUT THERE, TALKING ABOUT WOMEN IN THE MILITARY, DISABLED VETERANS, TALKING ABOUT ALSO THE HISTORY OF THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY HISTORICALLY.
TALKING ALSO ABOUT THE KINDS OF ISSUES REGARDING LABOR AS A MOVEMENT, HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE AND HAVING FORMER SECRETARIES EVEN COME IN AND TALK TO US ABOUT THAT WHEN IT WAS, WHEN WE TALKED ABOUT A BOOK THAT WAS WRITTEN BY ONE OF THE FORMER SECRETARIES.
THESE ARE THINGS THAT I'M TRYING TO OPEN UP FOR NOT JUST YOU, BUT FOR OTHER PEOPLE WHO MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT OUR HISTORY HERE AT THE DEPARTMENT AND HOPEFULLY YOU'LL HELP INSPIRE MY STAFF AND GIVE US SOME GOOD IDEAS SO EVERYONE CAN SHARE.
I AM HAPPY WHEN I GO‑‑WHEN I WENT TO THE EMPLOYEES, I GUESS IT WAS A CAMPAIGN EFFORT ON THE ROOF TOP, AND PEOPLE WERE GETTING READY TO MAKE COMMITMENTS FOR RAISING MONEY BY DIFFERENT DIVISIONS, AND I WAS VERY HAPPY TO MEET SOME OF YOU, SOME EVEN GOT ME TO PLAY MINIATURE GOLF AND I WAS SUCCESSFUL.
[LAUGHTER]
AND I ALSO HAD A CHANCE TO TALK WITH A LOT OF YOU.
I GET THE STRANGEST REMARKS SOMETIMES, YOU KNOW, SECRETARY WHERE'S YOUR DETAIL, EUROPE BY YOURSELF, YOU ACTUALLY GO IN AND N AN ELEVATOR BY YOURSELF?
YOU GO TO THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT CENTER HERE?
YOU ACTUALLY GO TO THE ATM MACHINE AND PULL MONEY OUT JUST LIKE YOU?
BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE TIME TO GO TO THE BANK.
WHO HAS TIME?
BUT YOU KNOW WHAT, IT'S ALL HERE.
IT'S ALL HERE.
AND I'M JUST HAPPY THAT EVERYBODY HAS BEEN SO SUPPORTIVE OF WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO HERE AND WE'RE A TEAM.
SO THIS IS DOL IN SPANISH.
WE SAY FAMILIA.
SO YOU'RE MY FAMILY.
YOU KNOW I SPEND MOST OF MY TIME HERE.
MY POOR HUSBAND IS OUT IN LOS ANGELES RIGHT NOW BUT HE WATCHES, HE GOES TO THE  INTERNET AND HE GOOGLES AND HE KNOWS WHAT WE'RE DOING.
AND HE'S PROBABLY THE ONE THAT ALWAYS REMINDS ME, YOU'RE THERE FOR THE PEOPLE, YOU'RE THERE FOR THE THINGS THAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING TO MAKE SOMEBODY'S ELSE'S LIFE BETTER SO THEY FIND A GOOD JOB, GET GOOD TRAINING AND WE HELP BUSINESSES PROSPER SO WE HAVE SLOTS AVAILABLE FOR THOSE DISLOCATED WORKERS GET GOOD JOBS BUT I GET REMINDED OF THAT ALL THE TIME.
I WANT TO SAY THANK YOU.
I KNOW WE'RE GOING TO SWITCH OUT BUT I HAVE A POSTER RIGHT?
I WANT TO SHARE THE POSTER.
EVERYONE HAS ONE AT THEIR SEAT.  AND THIS IS THE BLIZZARD AWARD, NOT THE BEST TITLE I WOULD USE, THE BLIZZARD AWARD OF 2010 AND I BELIEVE WE HAVE WELL OVER 200 EMPLOYEES THAT ARE LISTED HERE THAT CAME IN DURING THE SEVERE STORM THAT WE HAD HERE IN  WASHINGTON AND I THAN WAS A PROBLEM FOR MANY OF US BECAUSE YOU COULDN'T GET AROUND TOWN BUT THOSE OF YOU THAT DID THE UNTHINKABLE, CAME HERE AND YOU KEPT US FUNCTIONING SO I WANT TO PERSONALLY SAY THANK AND YOU UNVEIL AND REVEAL THIS NICE LITTLE SNOW CAPITOL DEPARTMENT OF LABOR BLIZZARD AWARD 2010 DEPARTMENT OF LABOR FOR THOSE THAT CAME IN DURING THE BLIZZARD.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> I THINK WITH THAT, OUR TIME IS UP.
THEY'RE TELLING ME I HAVE TO CUT IT OFF.
I WOULD LOVE TO DO THIS AGAIN IF YOU FEEL THIS IS SOMETHING WORTH WHILE. WE CAN PLAN ON MORE DISCUSSION AND NOT JUST WITH ME BUT WITH MY ASSISTANT SECRETARIES.
OKAY?
YEAH.
WE’RE GOING TO MAKE IT WORK.
THANK YOU.
THANK YOU.
[ APPLAUSE ]