CINCINNATI -- U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who is on a shortlist to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate in a decision expected by the end of the week, spoke on Wednesday at a labor luncheon at the NAACP Annual Convention.
“Our diversity is our greatest strength as a nation,” said Perez, who if chosen as Clinton’s vice president could help her reach the important Hispanic voting bloc.
His speech came on the same day the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce announced its support for Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in its first-ever presidential endorsement.
Perez didn’t offer any hint about the possibility of joining Clinton’s ticket. Instead he spoke about the close relationship between labor rights and civil rights.
“Every person is entitled to be treated with dignity,” Perez said. “That is what the labor movement is about. That is what the civil rights movement is about.”
His remarks to several hundred labor and civil rights leaders began an afternoon of labor workshops at Duke Energy Convention Center focusing on black workers on the final day of the NAACP Convention.
On Monday Clinton delivered a rousing speech to the convention, urging the crowd to vote and warning them against her Republican opponent Donald Trump.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, who is also a potential Clinton running mate, also spoke at the convention Monday. Afterward he campaigned with Clinton at the University of Cincinnati.
Clinton is expected to announce her running mate by Saturday. In addition to Perez, others reportedly on the short list are Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
“Nobody who works full-time job in this country should have to live in poverty,” Perez said, to a crowd that clapped loudly throughout his 20-minute speech, and gave him a standing ovation when he left the stage.
Perez criticized Republicans for failing to raise the minimum wage and not expanding overtime protection. He also stressed the importance of enacting a family paid leave law.
“The rising tide has to lift all the boats. It can’t just lift the yachts,” Perez said.
Perez also spoke of the importance of unions, and the headwinds facing the labor movement in the future.
“When labor unions succeed in this country, America succeeds,” Perez said. “And when the labor movement succeeds, the middle class succeeds.”
Although Perez did not mention Trump, many labor and civil rights leaders who spoke before him did not hide their dislike for him.
“A Donald Trump presidency would make life harder for working people,” said Tim Burga, president of the AFL-CIO of Ohio. “This year we will give everything we have to elect Hillary Clinton to the office of president and Ted Strickland to the office of Senate.”