07/23/2013 01:46 pm ET Updated Sep 22, 2013

Day One

Today is my first day as the secretary of labor, and I couldn't be more eager to get down to work.

For 100 years, the Labor Department has been central to safeguarding and expanding the American dream for working families. As the first secretary of the department's second century, I will focus every day on creating more opportunity for more people.

That means more opportunity for workers to acquire the skills they need to succeed; more opportunity to earn a fair day's pay for a fair day's work; more opportunity for workers and employers to compete on a level playing field; more opportunity for our veterans to thrive in the civilian economy; more opportunity for people with disabilities to contribute productively to the workforce; more opportunity to retire with dignity and peace of mind; and more opportunity for people to work in a safe environment and with the full protection of our anti-discrimination laws.

The best way to promote and protect opportunity is through collaboration, consensus-building and pragmatic problem-solving. Throughout nearly 30 years in public service, I have approached tough challenges by making room for as many people as possible around the table in search of common ground. That's how I will continue to do business as secretary of labor.

When you tackle problems by listening to all stakeholders, you eliminate the kind of zero-sum false choices that have too often dominated our politics in recent years. I believe we can and we must work together on policy solutions that are both are pro-business and pro-worker. I believe we're making a mistake if we regard job creation and job safety as mutually exclusive or inherently in conflict; they can and they must go hand-in-hand. We must look for the win-win solutions that create more opportunity for everyone.

I know that none of this will be possible without the diligence, experience and expertise of the men and women of the Labor Department -- more than 17,000 strong in Washington, across the country and around the world. The spine of DOL is its dedicated career staff, and I look forward to working with and learning from them.

I am proud to start this job at such a pivotal moment for working people, our economy and the entire nation. I look forward to carrying on the great work of the U.S. Department of Labor, executing a mission that is as important as ever.