WASHINGTON (AP) — Labor Secretary Tom Perez sought Monday to re-energize President Barack Obama's stalled push for raising the minimum wage from $7.50 to $10.10 an hour and for making paid leave for mothers of newborns more widely available.
Speaking at the National Press Club, Perez also suggested that U.S. workers generally have failed to benefit from the nation's economic recovery.
"Nobody wins unless everybody wins," he said.
He also said he does not think voter fraud is that big a problem.
"As we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, I do not believe the enduring voting issue...is in-person voter fraud," he said, referring to the March 7, 1965 "Bloody Sunday" voting rights march in Selma, Alabama, when many activists were clubbed and received severe beatings.
"I don't believe that because I did those cases when I was over there (at the Justice Department) and that is a phantom problem," Perez said.
Perez previously led the Justice Department's civil rights division and is a top contender to replace Eric Holder as attorney general. Obama has said he does not plan to announce his choice for attorney general before the November elections.
Holder was asked "What should be the Justice Department's top priorities?"
After laughter subsided, Perez said, "My particular focus is on the job of being the head of the Department of Labor."
"I'm still doing my day job," he added.
"I can tell you the Department of Labor's priorities should be putting people back to work, continuing the pace of growth and making sure we have shared prosperity," he said.
Perez said that the United States should join the rest of the industrialized world and offer paid leave for mothers.
"Why are we making people choose between the job they need and the family they love?" Perez asked.
He emphasized workplace issues that are key Democratic themes in the upcoming midterm election, calling what he called a "stairway to shared prosperity."
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