On Thursday it was announced that President-elect Barack Obama had selected California Congresswoman Hilda Solis to the position of Labor Secretary. Solis became the first Latina elected to the California Senate in the mid-1990s. Labor leaders across the state applauded Obama’s pick.
California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:
“With the selection of Hilda Solis as our nation’s next Labor Secretary, President-elect Obama gets a warrior for working families who brings a unique blend of experience and passionate advocacy on workers’ issues.
“Working people in California know what a champion they’re getting in Rep. Solis. From her time fighting for a higher minimum wage in the California state legislature to her support for expanded access to health care and fair trade in the U.S. Congress, Solis has shown time and again that she’s committed to protecting the interests of working families. Throughout her career in Congress, she’s voted in favor of working families 97 percent of the time, including 100 percent last year.
“With Solis at the helm, we’re absolutely confident that the Department of Labor will return to its primary mission of looking out for the health and welfare of America’s workers. The California Labor Federation looks forward to working with and supporting Rep. Solis in her new role.”
Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of California Nurses Association/ National Nurses Organizing Committee
The announced appointment of California Congresswoman Hilda Solis opens the door to a desperately needed change of course at the Department of Labor.
Over the past eight years, the Labor Department has been subverted from what should be its primary mission of promoting the health, safety, and well being of working Americans.
No area of government has better symbolized the failed policies of the Bush administration in its tilt toward corporate interests and hostility to workers, from oversight of health and safety laws to employment standards. As our economic survival as a nation continues to deteriorate, a wholesale change in the priorities and activities of the DOL could not be more needed or timely.
This past July, for example, the Government Accounting Office issued a report indicting the DOL for its dismal failure to investigate complaints by low wage workers about “wage-theft” in refusal to pay large number of workers for overtime and other pay standards.
Additionally, there have been rampant reports in the New York Times and other media about rampant problems with workplace safety regulations.
The inevitable conclusion is that during the Bush years, the Department has been far more concerned with rolling back protections than enforcing them. The consequences for worker and consumer safety have been devastating.
Under the current administration, the DOL has also been sanguine about employer abuses while pushing draconian oversight of unions. Carrying out the agenda of anti-union committees does not serve the interests of American workers.
With rising unemployment, escalating problems with workplace safety, growing income inequality, we desperately need a new Department of Labor that is a champion of working people, not their adversary. We are hopeful that today’s appointment is the crucial first step in that process.
UHW President Sal Rosselli:
“President-elect Obama’s nomination of Representative Hilda Solis as the next United States Secretary of Labor is tremendous news for healthcare workers in California and working families across the country.
Throughout her career Rep. Solis has been a forceful and tireless advocate, joining in grassroots battles for economic justice, and standing with workers on the picket line as well as on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Rep. Solis has been one of the leading supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act and she understands the importance of working people having a free choice in their workplace and a strong voice and real democracy in their unions.
In Southern California, Rep. Solis has shone a light on issues facing working people in the San Gabriel Valley, an often overlooked part of Los Angeles County where many families are struggling to get by. She has stood alongside healthcare workers as they fought to form unions in their hospitals, frequently in the face of harassment and intimidation from their employers. As a state legislator and in Congress, she has been among the very most reliable allies of workers in California and across the nation.
Rep. Solis is a warrior for working families and her nomination as Secretary of Labor gives hope to thousands of caregivers in hospitals, nursing homes and consumers’ homes across California who struggle every day to protect their patients and improve their communities.”