Obama’s pick for the next Secretary of Labor is Hilda Solis. Last week she was questioned by the House of Representatives, but provided very little answers to their questions.
Both of Solis’s parents were heavily committed to the labor movement. Her father was a Teamster organizer and shop steward in Mexico, and once he arrived in the United States, he again organized for the Teamsters. Her mother was a member of the United Rubber Workers while working for Mattel, Inc.
At our events, she is known as an honorary shop steward – a symbol of the respect she has earned throughout our decades-long working relationships. She has walked numerous picket lines with us in Southern California. Our members have worked on every single Solis campaign.
Solis is also a member of the House Progressive Caucus, a group of the most liberal members of the House. According to Wikipedia (since their official website cpc.lee.house.gov is down), this group advocates for, among other things: universal healthcare, the right of all workers to organize into labor union and engage in strike actions and collective bargaining, the abolition of significant portions of the USA PATRIOT Act, the legalization of gay marriage, a complete pullout from the war in Iraq, a crackdown on free trade and corporate welfare, an increase in income tax on the wealthy, tax cuts for the poor, and an increase in social welfare spending by the federal government. There are over 70 members of the House Progressive Caucus. Some of the more known members include: Rosa De Lauro, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Barney Frank, Dennis Kucinich, along with former members Nancy Pelosi and Sherrod Brown. And she currently sits on the board of the extremist labor group American Rights at Work.
Obviously labor unions are thrilled with her appointment and even Senator Kennedy made a rare appearance on Capitol Hill since he began undergoing treatment for brain cancer to open the confirmation hearing.
Despite her obvious pro-labor track record, the Labor Secretary is placed in a position to negotiate with, work with, and oversee the corruption of the various labor groups to whom she owes her allegiance. According to Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), “This is a very important position. It can’t be used to magnify one side over the other or any side over the other. It has to be handled fairly.”
Yet when questioned on the hotly debated issues, Solis said she was not in a position to respond to a question about whether the government should change the labor laws to allow unions to organize workers without secret ballot elections, aka EFCA. She also declined to say whether she or the Obama Administration supports continuation of “Right to Work” laws, which give employees a choice of whether they want to join a union at their workplace.
Instead, Solis believes that the position of Labor Secretary is to create jobs. Her focus, she said, was on creating “green collar” jobs, which could include retrofitting government buildings to meet energy efficiency standards and installing solar panels, among other tasks that would develop America’s alternative energy production. According to Stop the ACLU, “Government is not the proper place to be “creating” jobs, but the incoming Obama administration is going to use this economic downturn as an excuse to take over as much of America’s business as possible in a fashion little different than the outright theft of private sector businesses in Russia or Venezuela.”
Without a doubt, unions are going to push Solis to give them what they want, and the Secretary of Labor position is to work pragmatically between labor and management. Only time will tell if Solis will yield to the unions’ desires to: repeal financial disclosure requirements that increase transparency and enable workers to hold unions accountable; have fewer audits on their books; use pension funds on political goals; and eliminate the workers’ right to a secret ballot election.