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Hoorays for Hilda: Secretary Designate Solis Embraced by Labor, Progressives

Hilda SolisIt’s official, President Elect Barack Obama has tapped Hilda Solis to be his Secretary of Labor. And, unlike the “on the one hand, on the other hand” reaction progressives have had to so many Obama appointments, Solis is someone most embrace with both arms.

UNITE HERE President Bruce Raynor:

UNITE HERE is thrilled to have a proven advocate for working Americans named our new Secretary of Labor. With this appointment and a firm commitment to a stimulus package that helps working people including the Employee Free Choice Act, the President-elect is affirming his commitment to bring working families the kind of change they voted for. Representative Solis understands that unions are the key rebuilding and expanding the American middle class and restoring our economy. Rep. Solis has championed workers right to organize for family sustaining jobs. 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 President Andy Stern:

As someone who has pounded the pavement knocking on doors for Hilda Solis in her first upset campaign in California, I can tell you firsthand that this woman is about opening doors for millions of Americans who get up and go to work each day.

From the streets of Los Angeles where she marched with the janitors who were fighting for jobs with dignity that can support a family through SEIU’s Justice for Janitors campaigns, to the halls of Congress where she has been an outspoken supporter of healthcare rights for all, a livable minimum wage, and workers’ right to come together for a voice on the job, Hilda Solis has never backed down from the good fight to make the American Dream available to all.

The daughter of two immigrant workers and union members and a board member of American Rights at Work, she will be a Secretary of Labor working men and women can finally count on to stand up and fight for them. For Representative Solis, the American Dream is not an abstraction. Her parents met in a citizenship class. She understands personally the challenges workers face in a global economy and the need for a bold new agenda that expands healthcare for everyone and gives American workers a greater choice and a greater voice. For Representative Solis, serving as Secretary of Labor will not just be a job, but the culmination of a lifetime of action serving as a voice for people who work.

Harold Myerson (writing for Tapped):

What does Rep. Hilda Solis, Barack Obama’s selection for secretary of labor, bring to the job? Only a record of passionate commitment to working people, a high level of political smarts, and some genuine displays of raw guts that could make her a star of American liberalism.

. . . .

In the House, Solis has continued to champion labor causes, immigrants’ rights, women’s health and environmental protections. She also worked closely with Rahm Emanuel in recruiting Democratic House candidates from the Southwest and Latino-dominated districts, so she brings to her new job a strong relationship with Obama’s incoming chief-of-staff. Now, she’s in the key position to promote the Employee Free Choice Act, which seems likely to be the most contentious issue on Obama’s agenda. But Solis has never been deterred by controversy.

Van Jones:

[T]he green jobs movement is jumping for joy not only because she’s brown. It’s because she’s green. Through Solis, Obama makes clear his commitment to creating green jobs to lift the nation out of its current economic crisis.

Update: Some guy named Barack just chimed in (from his presser):

If jobs and incomes are our yardsticks, then the success of the American worker is key to the success of the American economy. For the past eight years, the Department of Labor has not lived up to its role either as an advocate for hardworking families or as an arbiter of fairness in relations between labor and management. That will change when Hilda Solis is Secretary of Labor. Under her leadership, I am confident that the Department of Labor will once again stand up for working families.

Hilda has always been an advocate for everyday people. When she received an award several years ago, she said, "Fighting for what is just is not always popular, but it is necessary." And that is exactly what she has done throughout her career, blazing new trails every step of the way. Whether it’s creating green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced or expanding access to affordable health care or raising the minimum wage in California, Hilda has been a champion of our middle class. And I know that Hilda will show the same kind of leadership as Secretary of Labor that she showed in California and on the Education and Labor Committee by protecting workers’ rights – from organizing to collective bargaining, from keeping our workplaces safe to making our unions strong.

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Gregg Levine

Gregg Levine