Buffalo native to return March 8
Congressman Brian Higgins joined VOICE-Buffalo and the Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope (NOAH) in announcing plans for U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to visit Buffalo this March.
"The secretary understands this community and can provide a very unique perspective on techniques for greater collaboration on critical issues of workforce opportunity and development," Higgins said.
The Rev. JoAnne Scott, president of NOAH, said, "The secretary's visit is an important step in further enabling our community to meet the needs of low-income families and people of color through developing workforce strategies that will help lift people out of poverty."
VOICE-Buffalo is a faith-based interracial coalition of 55 congregations, community-based organizations and labor unions committed to positive social change through civic engagement. NOAH is a faith-based interracial coalition of 15 congregations and community organizations also committed to social change through civic involvement. Collectively, the two organizations formed a faith-based social justice federation of 70 members known as Gamaliel WNY, and have been working collaboratively on the invitation to Perez. Higgins recently met with the leadership of VOICE and NOAH, and reached out to encourage the secretary to accept the groups' invitation.
"Secretary Perez coming to Buffalo on Mach 8 shows great promise for this region, and is a huge accomplishment in our efforts to establish new strategies in the area of workforce development, " said the Rev. James Giles, president of VOICE-Buffalo.
Perez was born and raised in Buffalo to parents who immigrated to America from the Dominican Republic seeking a better life. His parents raised five children in Western New York, where his father worked as a physician at Buffalo's VA Hospital. Perez attended Canisius High School before earning degrees at Brown and Harvard universities.
Prior to his 2013 nomination to serve as U.S. secretary of labor, Perez worked as assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice civil rights division.
As labor secretary, Perez's stated priorities include: ensuring a fair day's pay for a fair day's work; connecting ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs through skills programs like registered apprenticeship and on-the-job training; promoting gender equality in the workplace; ensuring people with disabilities and veterans have access to equal employment opportunity; and insisting on a safe and level playing field for all American workers.