Maryland Labor Secretary Moderates Labor Department Panel at National Association of Latino Elected Officials Annual Conference


Sanchez touts Maryland’s best-in-the-nation workforce, highlights importance of skills training

SAN ANTONIO, TX. (June 25, 2011) – Earlier today, Maryland Labor Secretary Alexander M. Sanchez moderated a panel discussion with officials from the U.S. Department of Labor at the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. The panel provided an overview of the services and initiatives administered by the federal Labor Department and offered a perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing state labor departments and commissions.

“I am honored to join many of the country’s most influential Latino policy makers at this year’s annual NALEO conference. The U.S. Department of Labor leads by example and does exceptional work to provide a safety net for working families and protections for consumers,” Secretary Sanchez said. “The Maryland Department of Labor has followed that example and worked tirelessly during this national economic downturn to improve worker training and strengthen Maryland’s educated, skilled and mobile workforce.”

The panel included four representatives from various agencies within the U.S. Department of Labor: Elmy Bermejo, Director of US-DOL Intergovernmental Affairs; Dusti Gurul, Regional Representative for Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis; Juan Coria, San Antonio District Director, Wage and Hour Division; and Jeff Funke, Director, Occupational Health and Safety Act, San Antonio Area Office.

During his introductory remarks, Sanchez touted Maryland’s highly-educated workforce and highlighted the important investments Governor Martin O’Malley has made in skills training. Sanchez also acknowledged Maryland’s diversity and the O’Malley-Brown administration’s belief in the dignity of every Marylander.

Earlier this year, Maryland passed SB 167 (The Maryland DREAM Act) providing in-state tuition to Maryland high school graduates regardless of the immigration status of their parents. Last month, The Maryland Welcome Back Initiative, funded by the Maryland Department of Labor (DLLR) and administered by the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs, was awarded the Migrant Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy E Pluribus Unum Prize for its successful work to encourage the adoption of effective integration practices. The Welcome Back Initiative provides orientation, educational resources, access to language training and support that helps foreign-trained health professionals more easily navigate the licensing process to allow them to restart careers in the U.S. health industry. The Initiative supports various ‘Welcome Back Centers’ which leverage the training, experience and language skills of underemployed migrant professionals, helping them transition from low-skill jobs to high-demand professions in the health care industry.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization that facilitates the full participation of Latinos in the American political process, from citizenship to public service. The NALEO Educational Fund is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization. First established in 1981, NALEO carries out its mission through programs that integrate Latinos fully into American political society, provides professional development opportunities and technical assistance to the nation’s more than 6,000 Latino elected and appointed officials, and monitors and conducts advocacy on issues important to the Latino community and citizens’ political participation.

The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation protects and empowers Marylanders by safeguarding workers, protecting consumers, providing a safety net and cultivating a thriving workforce that can meet the demands of Maryland’s dynamic economy. Follow DLLR on Twitter (@MD_DLLR) and Facebook.