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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WB News Release: [02/18/2011]
Contact Name: Tiffany March or Deanne Amaden
Phone Number: (202) 693-4664 or (415) 625-2630
Release Number: 11-0223-NAT

US Department of Labor hosts National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility conference in Pasadena, Calif., focused on hourly-wage employees

PASADENA, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Labor's Women's Bureau yesterday hosted a conference on best flexibility practices for hourly-wage employees at the Pasadena Convention Center, drawing about 400 attendees. "Challenges and Solutions for Hourly Workers" is part of the Women's Bureau's National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility, a series of events building on the goals of the March 2010 White House Flexibility Forum.

"Flexible workplace polices are good for employees, and they are also good for a company's bottom line," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The Labor Department is committed to helping all Americans balance their work and home responsibilities, and to exploring solutions to challenges faced by both employers and employees. Today's dialogue is a step forward in matching workplace policies with realities of the 21st century workforce."

Secretary Solis delivered the keynote and introduced First Lady Michelle Obama's video message on "changing workplaces." Women's Bureau Director Sara Manzano-Diaz gave welcoming remarks. KTLA-TV reporter and anchor Elizabeth Espinosa moderated the panel discussion, which included Joan Williams, founder and director, University of California-Hastings' Center for Worklife Law; Jennifer Piallat, owner, Zazie Restaurant; Rosalind Hudnell, chief diversity officer and global director of education and external relations, Intel; Barbara Grimm, senior vice president, labor management partnership, Kaiser Permanente; and Marianne Giordano, president, Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 30. Closing remarks were provided by Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

As reported by the president's Council of Economic Advisers, changes in American society have increased the need for flexibility in the workplace, including a larger number of women entering the labor force, the prevalence of families in which all adults work, increasing elder care responsibilities and the rising importance of continuing education. Hourly workers face the same work-life issues as those faced by professional employees, but not having access to flexible policies can have more devastating effects on their employment status.

"Flexibility is not just a women's issue, it is a family issue," said Manzano-Diaz. "Women now serve as the primary or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American households. When employees are able to balance the needs of both work and home, it not only impacts productivity but strengthens families and communities."

The Women's Bureau, established by Congress in 1920, is the only federal agency designated to represent the needs of working women. Today, the bureau's goal is to empower all working women to achieve economic security by preparing them for well-paying jobs, ensuring fair compensation, promoting workplace flexibility and helping homeless women veterans reintegrate into the workforce.