The nomination of Thomas Perez, 51, assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights, has been rumored for a while and the White House has leaked the Washington Post that it is a go:
Perez has strong labor support and served as Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) labor secretary from 2007 until 2009, when he was tapped for the Justice Department position. Perez, a longtime Takoma Park resident, also served on the Montgomery County Council and was the first Latino elected to the council. He has been the key official under Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. handling civil rights cases, the centerpiece of what Holder hopes will be his legacy.Reached by telephone Saturday, Perez said: “I can’t really discuss it, I apologize.”
Perez has been on of the main figures behind the administration’s aggressive attack on voter ID laws.
He would replace current Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who was so committed to Big Labor that shortly after becoming secretary she told the AFL-CIO: “I am proud and humbled to be your humble servant as labor secretary.”
Perez is also a major union booster, according to the Post:
O’Malley appointed him Maryland’s secretary of labor, licensing and regulation. In that role, Perez pushed to protect employees from being incorrectly classified as independent contractors, a categorization that kept them from receiving unemployment insurance and workers compensation.
Fred D. Mason Jr., president of the Maryland and District of Columbia AFL-CIO, on Saturday called that Perez’s most important accomplishment in Annapolis.
“As a union leader, I certainly believe that labor rights and workers’ rights are also civil rights, and Tom has an appreciation for that,” said Mason, who represents about 350,000 workers.
[Douglas] Duncan, the former [Montgomery County] executive, called Perez “a fierce advocate of labor.” He was also extremely loyal to O’Malley, Duncan said, recalling that Perez surprised some of his liberal allies by supporting the governor’s proposal to legalize slot-machine gambling in Maryland.
The Post story also includes this biographical nugget:
Perez was 12 when his father died of a heart attack, and a friend’s father stepped in as a surrogate. The man was a Teamster who’d lost his job, and the union helped support him.
Perez never forgot.