Monday, December 9, 2013
WASHINGTON – A former member of Gov. John Baldacci’s inner circle has landed a high-ranking job in Washington with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Laura Fortman, who headed the Maine Department of Labor for seven years during the Baldacci administration, will begin later this month as deputy administrator in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
Fortman’s current employer, the Frances Perkins Center in Newcastle, announced the change this week.
The Wage and Hour Division is responsible for enforcing the federal laws regulating minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor and seasonal/migrant workers, among other things.
Fortman has served as executive director of the Frances Perkins Center since 2011. The center’s namesake was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s labor secretary and the first woman to hold a Cabinet position. Although a Massachusetts native, Perkins had deep family roots in midcoast Maine and she is buried in the family cemetery in Newcastle.
It’s worth noting that Perkins was personally responsible for the establishment of several of the federal policies handled by the Wage and Hour Division. She helped shepherd through legislation that established a minimum wage and set a standard work week, for example. She is also credited with helping establish Social Security and federal protections for workers who want to organize a union.
The building in DC where Fortman will be working is named for Perkins.
Christopher Breiseth, chair of the board of directors of the Frances Perkins Center in Maine, said it was fitting that Fortman was leaving the center to take the job in Washington.
“We will be continuing to secure the legacy of Frances Perkins together,” Breiseth said in a statement.
Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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