Labor leaders laud departing Labor Secretary
By Mark Gruenberg 13 January 2013
|WASHINGTON - Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who repeatedly declared herself “the new sheriff in town” on behalf of workers the last four years, resigned her position on Jan. 9, after talks with her family over the holiday break about her future.
|AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other union leaders praised Solis for standing up for workers and coming down hard on corporate violators, especially in job safety and health. “Hilda Solis brought urgently needed change to the Department of Labor, putting the U.S. government firmly on the side of working families,” Trumka said.
“Under Secretary Solis, the department became a place of safety and support for workers. Secretary Solis’ Department of Labor talks tough and acts tough on enforcement, workplace safety, wage and hour violations and so many other vital services.
“Secretary Solis never lost sight of her own working-class roots, and she always put the values of working families at the center of everything she did. We hope her successor will continue to be a powerful voice both within the Obama administration and across the country for all workers,” Trumka concluded.
There was no immediate word on whom Democratic President Barack Obama would nominate to succeed Solis, 55, a former congresswoman from Los Angeles. Solis said she would return to Los Angeles, but did not disclose her future plans.
One news report said Solis would seek election to the powerful Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. L.A. County is the most populous in the U.S. And the job of Mayor of Los Angeles – the nation’s second-largest city – will be open. Incumbent Antonio Villaraigosa, 60, is term-limited and must step down this year.
In a speculative article around last November’s election, National Journal, an authoritative weekly magazine covering the executive branch, said Steelworkers President Leo Gerard was union leaders’ favorite for the job should Solis leave.
Another story on Solis said veteran Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., was runner-up for the post when Solis got it four years ago. DeLauro is top Democrat on the House appropriations subcommittee that helps dole out money for DOL and related agencies.
The name of Patricia Smith, the Labor Department’s Solicitor – its top lawyer – and a former New York State Labor Commissioner, surfaced in yet another story. And a columnist for the Right Wing Washington Examiner said Obama “cut to the chase” and nominate Trumka. The pundit snidely said Solis always did the AFL-CIO’s bidding.
In her resignation message, Solis thanked the department’s workers. She added that together they helped implement the Obama administration’s recovery measures from the Great Recession and stepped up job retraining and labor law enforcement in safety, health and wage and hour areas.
“We also played an important and active role in crafting regulatory actions to implement key aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Our work will help make President Obama’s vision of a health care system that works for America a reality for millions of people,” she said.
Other leaders praising Solis’ service and saying they would miss her included Teamsters President James Hoffa, Communications Workers President Larry Cohen, AFSCME President Lee Saunders and Service Employees President Mary Kay Henry.
Mark Gruenberg writes for Press Associates, Inc., news service. Used by permission.