Getting to Work: My First Week at the Department of Labor
This was my first week on the job as secretary of labor. Since I was sworn in by Vice President Harris on Tuesday, I’ve been humbled by the warm welcome I’ve received and inspired by this department and community’s commitment to supporting America's workers. Here are a few highlights from my first week as your secretary:
Calling attention to the gender wage gap — and committing to addressing it head-on
My first full day as secretary landed on Equal Pay Day, a symbol of the number of extra days, on average, women have to work to catch up to what men were paid the year before. I joined our Women’s Bureau in calling attention to all the factors contributing to the gender and racial wage gap. As secretary, I am committed to ensuring women — especially women of color — get connected to pathways to good jobs as our nation rebuilds. You can learn more about the department’s efforts at www.dol.gov/EqualPay.
Meeting my 15,000+ new coworkers
I also enjoyed hosting a virtual town hall to meet my new coworkers around the country. I am thrilled to join this group of dedicated public employees in furthering the department’s mission and look forward to the day when I can safely meet and learn from them in person.
Connecting with families and frontline workers in childcare
I had the opportunity to speak with Marcia St. Hilaire-Finn, founder of Bright Start Early Care and Preschool in northwest Washington, D.C. The concerns she shared about the pandemic’s effects on her small business and slow recovery were all too familiar. As were the frustrations voiced by parents picking up their kids about how the crisis has undermined their own financial security and health and well-being.
I was pleased to share with them how the American Rescue Plan is providing workers, businesses and working parents with immediate relief. We have lots of work to do, but help is here.
Thanking those providing critical unemployment support services
I ended my week by meeting with the American Job Center staff at the Department of Employment Services in northeast Washington, D.C. These dedicated frontline workers have spent the past year helping people get the critical unemployment benefits they need during the pandemic. And they shared just how difficult that has been — both for their customers and as customer service representatives.
Though they’ve been under unprecedented strain over the last year, I assured them that I, along with the Biden-Harris administration, am committed to improving our unemployment system. The American Rescue Plan is the first step, and the department has already provided guidance to states on how to implement the plan’s new unemployment insurance provisions. You can learn more about this and other ways the American Rescue Plan provides direct relief to workers and businesses at www.dol.gov/AmericanRescuePlan.
I look forward to listening, collaborating and building partnerships across the country as I help further the critical mission of the Department of Labor — and to sharing updates along the way.