I had the luxury of skipping the cabinet meeting to attend my daughter's graduation. So many people don't have the luxury of taking an hour away from the workplace to attend indispensable family commitments. We have to change that dynamic.
If you're going to be a big tent party as we are, and you're going to help elect democrats who have generated support in their communities... the will of those voters is the will that we must respect.
And as we work together, we will build a better America! As we work together, we will bring the middle class to thrive again! As we work together, we will make sure that everybody has the ladder of opportunity to climb!
Historians have often censored civil rights activists' commitment to economic issues and misrepresented the labor and civil rights movements as two separate, sometimes adversarial efforts. But civil rights and workers' rights are two sides of the same coin.
Dr. King's last campaign was a labor struggle. Many people are aware that King was assassinated in Memphis in the spring of 1968. Less well-known is what drew him there: solidarity with city sanitation workers, who, without the benefit of union representation, were rising up to protest humiliating pay and deplorable working conditions.
What I hear from employers day in and day out is, 'I need to make sure I have that skilled workforce to compete.' And so we've been able to help so many people punch their ticket to the middle class by transforming our workforce development system for advanced manufacturing jobs and other critical jobs that exist right now.
When I taught a civil rights class at the University of Maryland Law School, I would do an exercise with my students. I'd write 'civil rights' on the board and ask them to tell me what immediately came to mind.
I share the skepticism that my friends have about NAFTA. It was woefully weak in protecting workers and on the enforcement side. The question is can we meaningfully build a trade regime that has as its North Star protecting American workers and American jobs through meaningful enforcement? I think we can.
I met a woman working 30 hours a week, trying to make ends meet, three children. And she slept the night before I met her in her car because she's homeless. We can do better. We can build a nation of shared prosperity.
Apprenticeships are a particularly effective way to create career pathways with upward mobility and strong earning potential. Because apprentices receive a paycheck, it's a great option for those with families to support, including many veterans.
Union members not only earn higher median wages; they are more likely to have paid sick leave, short-term disability, and employer-provided child care. Giving people a voice at work - the ability to organize and negotiate for their fair share of the value they helped create - is absolutely essential to a growing, vibrant middle class.
What we're doing here in America is we're making women choose between the family they love and the job that they need. No other nation on the planet is making these choices. In other countries, they've put politics aside and looked at the facts. When women succeed, the world succeeds. We're losing sight of that here in the USA.
I am proud of our diversity, and when you attack the federal workforce, you are having significant impact on women - many of whom are single moms working to support their family - and you're having a significant impact on communities of color.
We need to enact comprehensive immigration reform, to bring people out of the shadows and empower them to more fully and freely participate in their communities and the economy. And we need to invest in our nation's deteriorating infrastructure - investments that would create jobs and benefit all sectors of the economy.
In terms of intellectual property, so many of the job creators I know are start-ups. In the IP setting, we can meaningfully improve on the status quo, and in so doing, we can help small businesses, large businesses, and those in between.
You shouldn't have to win the boss lottery in order to have a little bit of flexibility at work. Raising and supporting a family isn't just a financial obligation. What's important isn't just being able to put food on the dinner table - we want you to be at the dinner table, too.
Post-military service can be a period of anxiety and uncertainty. So many men and women return and ask themselves: what now? The Labor Department is here to help answer that question with an array of programs designed to clear pathways into the middle class.
King had come to Memphis to lend his moral authority to the struggle of striking municipal sanitation workers who were overwhelmingly African-American. They earned poverty wages, endured degrading working conditions, and faced brutal beatings when they tried to organize.
I've heard the argument that unemployment benefits somehow act as a disincentive to the long-term unemployed when it comes to looking for work, but the opposite is true. Unemployment Insurance serves as a powerful incentive for people to keep searching for jobs, rather than drop out of the labor force altogether.
We can't understand what we've accomplished on civil rights without telling the story of Bayard Rustin. And now, we must write the next chapter in the American civil rights story by drawing strength and inspiration from his moral courage.
From the new hate crimes law to the repeal of DOMA and 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' to the emerging popular support for marriage equality, we are making progress at breakneck speed. As someone who has dedicated most of my career to civil rights law, I am deeply moved by this sea change and proud to have done my part.