Today in Phoenix, Tom Perez will share his vision of a DNC for every Democrat at the first of four DNC Future Forums. Tom is a proven leader who has spent his life standing up for progressive values, taking on tough fights and winning, and making real change happen at the local, statewide, and national levels.
Phoenix is a fitting location to launch the first forum about the future of the Democratic Party. The state was a bright spot on November 8, when Arizonans organized and won, maintaining Democratic seats in competitive districts, raising the minimum wage and expanding paid leave through a ballot initiative. And changing demographics make Arizona poised to turn blue in the years ahead.
And Tom is no stranger to tackling tough issues in Phoenix and across the country. He went toe-to-toe with former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio over his discriminatory law, SB1070. Tom fought him all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won.
During the forum, Tom will highlight his experience as a proven fighter with a record of turning around complex organizations. From serving on the Montgomery County Council to growing one of the Mid-Atlantic’s largest immigrant services nonprofits to rebuilding the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice and leading the U.S. Department of Labor, Tom has time and again applied progressive values to rebuild organizations from the ground up. And that’s exactly what Tom will do to make the DNC an all-day, every day, year-round organization that supports state parties, expands the party’s big tent, and grows the Democratic Party from the grassroots up.
Tom’s record shows he has never hesitated to take on a fight – and he will continue to fight for progressive causes and Americans in every zip code as DNC chair.
- In 2002, Tom ran for a seat on the Montgomery County Council and won, becoming the first Latino elected to the Council and later served as its President.
- Tom led an initiative to let Montgomery County residents buy cheaper prescription drugs.
- Years before the housing crisis, Tom introduced and passed a bill to combat predatory lending and housing discrimination, a bill the Bush administration opposed.
- Over intense opposition, Tom supported a law banning discrimination against transgender people in Montgomery County.
- Tom stood up for working families in Montgomery County and fought for affordable housing.
- And Tom worked to improve literacy and immigration programs in Montgomery County.
Maryland Labor Secretary
- As Maryland’s Labor Secretary, Tom fought wage theft by focusing on worker misclassification.
- Tom hired more health and safety inspectors to keep Maryland workers out of hazardous workplace conditions.
- Tom fought the immigrant “brain waste,” helping consolidate adult education and workforce development under Maryland’s Department of Labor to support programs focused on improving the language skills of immigrant professionals.
- And Tom co-chaired Maryland’s Homeownership Preservation Task Force in 2007, calling for tougher mortgage laws, more outreach and emergency funds for families having a hard time keeping their homes.
CASA de Maryland
- As Board President of Casa de Maryland, Tom grew the group, expanding it to an immigration advocacy organization.
- Tom helped Casa improve the lives of immigrants by establishing services for day laborers and vocational training at community colleges.
- As a career attorney in the Justice Department, Tom prosecuted a gang of white supremacists in Texas who went on a shooting spree, trying to start a race war.
- Later, Tom worked with Senator Kennedy as a special counsel and developed laws which ultimately expanded hate crime protections to include the LGBT community and violence against women.
- And Tom worked with Senator Kennedy to pass the Church Arson Prevention Act making destroying religious property because of race, color or ethnicity easier to prosecute as a federal crime.
- While running the Office of Civil Rights at Health and Human Services, Tom worked to end racial and ethnic disparities in health care, including pursuing a case against a hospital segregating their maternity ward by race.
- Tom took over a Civil Rights Division that had been “decimated” by the Bush administration and turned it around.
- While Tom led the Civil Rights Division, it set a record for opening investigations into sheriff and police department conduct.
- Under Tom’s leadership, the Civil Rights Division successfully prosecuted the first cases under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
- And Tom’s first congressional testimony after becoming Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights was supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which outlawed discrimination in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
- The Civil Rights Division under Tom protected students from bullying and harassment based on their race, gender, and sexual orientation. And Tom stood up to make sure LGBT youth know It Gets Better.
- And Tom challenged Arizona’s discriminatory immigration law, SB 1070, all the way to the Supreme Court. He did the same with Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, HB 56.
- Tom worked to end human trafficking as part of the Worker Exploitation Task Force when he was an attorney at the Justice Department and set records of enforcement when he was leading the Civil Rights Division.
- Tom challenged discriminatory voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina, laws which unjustly targeted minority voters.
- Tom went after the big banks for racial discrimination and foreclosing on active-duty service members and got the largest fair-lending housing settlements ever.
- And Tom stood up for medical professionals and their patients by increasing enforcement of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
- When Tom was nominated for Labor Secretary, he had to overcome a 4-month, republican-led Senate filibuster and was confirmed without a single republican vote.
- At Labor, Tom leads a complex organization with over 17,000 employees, a multi-billion dollar budget and a presence in every state and three territories.
- Tom expanded the overtime rule, guaranteeing workers earning less than $47,476 had the right to be paid for their additional work.
- He aggressively combated worker misclassification, the unfair practice of classifying employees as independent contractors to cut costs and deprive them of wages and benefits. In 2016 alone, Labor collected $266 million in back pay owed to workers.
- After two weeks of negotiations, Tom helped resolve the Verizon strike with an agreement that included protections for Verizon’s retail workers, a victory for hardworking employees often left out from benefits.
- Tom led on leave and expanded paid sick leave so workers don’t have to choose between the jobs they need and the families they love.
- He helped West Coast port workers and their employer reach an agreement in 2015 after months of protracted negotiations.
- Tom set a target goal for federal contractors’ work forces have at least 7 percent of their employees be people with disabilities and 8 percent be veterans.
- Under his leadership, Labor expanded apprenticeships, creating more than 125,000 since 2014 to help Americans gain the skills and training they need to land good-paying jobs.
- And Tom made sure Americans with disabilities are integrated into communities with the access they need.
- Tom issued a new rule to protect workers across industries like construction and manufacturing from being exposed to dangerous levels of harmful silica dust, known to cause disease and cancer.
- He raised the minimum wage and extended overtime protections for home health care workers, impacting nearly 2 million workers.
- And Tom stood up for workers, issuing a rule requiring companies to disclose how much they spend combating union organizing efforts.
- Tom played a key role in ensuring companies with federal contracts pay their contract workers a minimum wage and provide paid sick leave.
- With Tom’s leadership, the Labor Department issued a conflict of interest rule forcing retirement advisors to put their clients’ best interest ahead of their own, potentially saving Americans billions of dollars per year.