There was a ceremony at the US Department of Labor yesterday marking the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, a landmark law that requires employers to allow workers to take unpaid leave for medical and family reasons, with a guarantee that their job will be there when they return.
The ceremony began with a speech by my brother Seth, who is the Acting Secretary Of Labor. There’s not enough bandwidth on this site for me to tell you how proud I am of Seth, who, as Deputy Secretary under Hilda Solis, has essentially been the Chief Operating Officer of a cabinet department with 17,000 employees. When Solis stepped down from the top spot after President Obama’s second inaugural, Seth moved into the big office on an acting basis until a new Secretary can be vetted, appointed, and confirmed (of course, I think Obama should give it to him permanently!). He also worked as a top adviser to Labor Secretaries Robert Reich and Alexis Herman during the Clinton presidency.
Seth talked up the FMLA’s success and taking a shot at the critics who said it would kill jobs — a claim as false as the same whines we hear today. Other speakers at the FMLA anniversary event included former President Bill Clinton (who made the FMLA the first bill he signed into law in 1993) and former Senator Chris Dodd (who fought for the law in Congress over seven years).
When Clinton came to the microphone, he had this to say about my brother:
Seth worked for me in the Labor Department for seven years, for Alexis [Herman] and Bob Reich. I was thrilled when he became Deputy Secretary Of Labor, but if I had known he could give a speech like that, I would have urged the President not to appoint him, and instead to force him to run for office, because that was a terrific job.