Good morning and thank you Jacqueline Berrien for the introduction.
I want to thank everyone for joining us today.
I am so proud of what our Administration is doing!... and all of my colleagues who have come together to work on behalf of working families.
It's always an honor to work with the Middle Class Task Force, led by our wonderful Vice President Joe Biden.
President Barack Obama called us all together to create an Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force because he believes that a strong nation is made up of strong families.
The new Department of Labor is ensuring pay equity is a high priority!
Over the past year, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has investigated and resolved a number of cases involving compensation discrimination.
For example, we have won cases for women finance managers who were paid less than their male counterparts and for women software developers as well.
And currently, our Solicitor is litigating a case of systemic discrimination for women pharmaceutical sales reps- as I have said in other contexts -- the Department of Labor is back in the enforcement business.
We are finding cases and winning results!
But we cannot do it alone and I am confident that by collaborating with our colleagues at the EEOC and the Department of Justice, we can ensure workers facing pay discrimination have the most strategic approaches deployed in their defense.
At OFCCP, we are also updating our protocols, training our staff in how to identify patterns of pay discrimination and we will hire an additional 200 -- mostly frontline enforcement staff.
To address this challenge, data is critical
The "EO" Survey was adopted at the end of the Clinton Administration and was rescinded in the Bush Administration.
Legislation is required for it to be reinstated and The Paycheck Fairness Act calls for new data collection.
We are taking steps now!
OFCCP will seek input from advocates and businesses on how the prior EO survey can be improved to gather better data and to limit the burden of data collection on employers.
The Department of Labor will also work closely with the EEOC and reinvigorate our own programs for Public Education -- so employers know their responsibilities and employees know their rights.
OFCCP will launch new outreach and education efforts targeted to workers so they can understand their rights under the law and how OFCCP can help them.
The Women's Bureau will create publications on the earnings gap, and resources for workers including an Equal Pay Checklist, while revamping our widely used Equal Pay Employer Self-Audit tool.
And our Women's Bureau will host an Equal Pay Research Summit that will bring together advocates, union and business leaders, civil rights leaders and government officials so we can learn from all of you.
As Melody said earlier -- these are core working family issues -- more money in women's paychecks means less stress on the family budget... it means another tank of gas or the school shoes a youngster needs.
One of the other ways the Obama Administration has focused on working families is to address long overdue issues of Work-Family Balance... let me take a minute today to highlight some more good news from the Department of Labor.
It has been a decade since the last Family Medical Leave Act surveys were conducted and conditions have changed.
So first, I am proud to announce that our Wage and Hour Department will conduct a new FMLA survey in 2011.
We welcome your input to make it a stronger research instrument to inform policy, enforcement and regulations and to reflect the full reality of 21st century families.
But we all know there are family leave needs beyond FMLA (which is why we have a great state paid leave project in our 2011 budget) -- and data needs beyond what the FMLA survey can tell us.
So I am also announcing today that in the 2011 Women's Bureau budget we plan to sponsor a supplement to the BLS American Time Use Survey, which will focus on gathering much more data on a wide diversity of workers' access to and use of leave.
We are also working to clarify how existing laws can and should apply to 21st century families.
Just last month I announced the Department of Labor's Administrative Interpretation of the FMLA.
It clarifies that anyone who parents a child has the right to FMLA protected leave -- whether that is an LGBT family or an extended family -- a "Tia or Aunt" who steps in to care for a child because a parent is on military leave.
Today I want to further clarify that this applies to situations where we need to care for our elders as well as for the children in our families.
We have new Wage and Hour fact sheets available that clarify for workers and employers alike that a person who was the "child" of someone who stood in loco parentis to them has the same rights to FMLA leave to care for that parent as does a child of a biological or adoptive parent.
So YES, an employee may take leave to care for his grandmother with a serious health condition, if she parented him.
And YES a daughter of a same-sex partnership may take leave to care for her non-adoptive or non-biological parent.
These policies that address the diversity of our 21st century workplace and 21st century families are all consistent with my vision of "good and safe jobs for everyone."
Finally before I turn things over to my good friend Valerie Jarrett, let me just wrap up by saying I am very excited that the Women's Bureau, in collaboration with the White House Council on Women and Girls, will host a "National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility".
We will hold forums in Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, with employers, advocates, unions, government officials, and other stakeholders to focus on flexibility policies in key sectors of the economy.
And now it's my pleasure to introduce Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and the Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls.