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Alexis Herman

  • American servant
  • Born July 16, 1947

Alexis Margaret Herman (born July 16, 1947) is an American politician who served as the 23rd U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. Herman was the first African-American to hold the position. Prior to serving as Secretary, she was Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Herman grew up in Mobile, Alabama. After college, she worked to improve employment opportunities for black laborers and women. She then joined the administration of Jimmy Carter, working as director of the Labor Department's Women's Bureau.


Education is important because, first of all, people need to know that discrimination still exists. It is still real in the workplace, and we should not take that for granted.




Well, I tell young people to be successful today that, first of all, that what you learn today directly impacts what you earn tomorrow. This is a knowledge-based economy.




If we can't begin to agree on fundamentals, such as the elimination of the most abusive forms of child labor, then we really are not ready to march forward into the future.




Unlike any other time in our history, we have to know that staying in school and getting an education is the most important thing you can do.




Really, the potential for, first of all, any college graduate today is enormously good. These are good times for anyone with a college degree today, particularly African Americans. With a college degree today, you really breach the unemployment rate.




This can not be about a race to the bottom.




But the real growth I must say in terms of the public sector for the Labor Department is really at state and local levels. That's where the real opportunities are today.




The fact of the matter is, this is a very dynamic economy we have, and in this dynamic economy, you have a lot of job gains, but you also have job loss.




The public sector certainly includes the Department of Labor. Those are jobs that are available. They are open and they are good paying jobs. The government as a whole has been actually retrenching under President Clinton's leadership.




It is very important that our young people have constructive early work experiences. But it is equally important that their jobs are safe and complement their education, rather than complete it.




My overall message for labor members is... that we understand that the benefits of trade are clear, but the disruption and the dislocation are painfully concentrated and we can't ignore them.




We have had actually a decline in government service overall, but the growth is in high-tech areas, specialty areas in the Labor Department and other departments.




To me, it is a process, a process that starts with raising awareness, engaging international partners on this issue, and being committed to a different course of action.



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