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Labor Secretary Pledges Aggressive Defense of Workers’ Rights

Wall Street Journal (09/10/13) Melanie Trottman

U.S. Department of Labor secretary Tom Perez yesterday vowed to vigorously defend employees’ rights in a speech at the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations’ quadrennial conference. Perez said DOL will defend collective-bargaining rights, enforce wage laws, and move to improve workplace safety. He also said he will go after companies that unlawfully misclassify workers as contractors instead of as employees. This practice constitutes “workplace fraud,” he said, because misclassified workers are deprived of benefits such as unemployment insurance.

Perez also reiterated his support for an increase in the federal minimum wage, arguing against “the naysayers who claim a higher minimum wage stifles job growth.” The speech also offered a peek into how Perez intends to balance unions’ demands with companies’ concerns that some initiatives may stifle job creation.