Obama has selected U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., for his labor secretary. Solis is the daughter of immigrants from Mexico and Nicaragua. Her father was a union shop steward, and her mother was an assembly line worker.
Solis has a resume a mile long concerning the rights of workers, women, and the environment. Of special significance to folks in New Mexico may be the fact that on her Web site she highlights the murders of women in Ciudad Juarez. Juarez is home to a maquiladora industry that has led to a huge migration of young women into the city from all over Mexico, seeking work. Apparently, Solis is the author of a House Resolution condemning the murders of women in that city.
Solis is also a champion of environmental justice, winning passage at the state level of an environmental justice bill designed to end the disproportionate impact of polluting industries on minority and low-income communities. That effort garnered her a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award.
Solis was also one of the authors of a groundbreaking 2007 “green jobs” measure in the House which authorized $125 million for a work force training program.
“We can think of no better person to help President-elect Obama implement his plans for an economic recovery fueled by the creation of millions of new green jobs,” said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club to the Associated Press. “Hilda Solis also understands that green jobs must also be good jobs and has worked to make sure that the clean energy economy is one that lifts up all workers.”
And what about labor?
Apparently, labor groups are quite pleased. Solis has been a champion of the Employee Free Choice Act, and her appointment is drawing rave reviews from labor organizations:
Unite to Win: “…is thrilled to have a proven advocate for working Americans named our new Secretary of Labor. … With a strong Secretary of Labor we will finally be able to address the crisis in labor law enforcement that has plagued our country for the past 8 years and build and create an economy that rewards work.”
SEIU: “The announcement of Representative Hilda Solis as President-elect Obama’s Secretary of Labor is great news for America’s workers. Solis comes from a union family and has never forgotten her roots in her public service career. Her appointment is a win for the prospects of the Employee Free Choice Act and the economic future for the people of this country who get up and go to work every day.”
Mary Beth Maxwell of American Rights at Work: “What a great choice! Rep. Solis brings the expertise and leadership required to a department in desperate need of reform and will champion common sense policies like the Employee Free Choice Act to restore balance and create an economy that works for everyone.”
Change to Win: “Congresswoman Solis does not just vote on behalf of workers, she is their unwavering and tireless voice. She has one of the strongest pro-worker voting records in Congress and is a sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act.
“She has never forgotten where she comes from, and how she got to where she is today.”
And according to CNN, John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO said: “”We’re confident that she will return to the Labor Department one of its core missions — to defend workers’ basic rights in our nation’s workplaces.”