PI Original Josh Kalven Thursday December 18th, 2008, 1:58pm

Obama To Tap Rep. Solis For Labor Secretary (UPDATED)

Just out from the AP:

A labor official says Rep. Hilda Solis of California will be nominated as labor secretary by President-elect Barack Obama. The
Democratic congresswoman was just elected to her fifth term
representing heavily Hispanic portions of eastern Los ...

Just out from the AP:

A labor official says Rep. Hilda Solis of California will be nominated as labor secretary by President-elect Barack Obama. The Democratic congresswoman was just elected to her fifth term representing heavily Hispanic portions of eastern Los Angeles County and east L.A.

Solis is a solid progressive and a stalwart friend of the unions.  Here's a clip of her speaking in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act on the House floor in 2007:

UPDATE: Some reactions from progressive bloggers -- and labor leaders -- below.

The American Prospect's Dana Goldstein:

I've met Hilda Solis, and I can say that she's very smart and committed to an issue dear to my own heart: the intersection of feminism and labor rights. She has highlighted the way women of color are disproportionately affected by the wage gap between men and women, writing, "Latinas earn on average 57 cents to every dollar that a man earns. African-American women earn just 68 cents to every dollar that a man earns." That is compared to 77 cents on the male dollar for all women.

Open Left's Matt Stoller:

I'm impressed with this pick.  Solis is an organizer within Congress, and has the smarts to build political coalitions among different constituency groups, including the netroots.  I could see Labor becoming a department that has to build its own power, since Obama's not exactly going to welcome that perspective to a seat at the table unless Solis forces her way in.  ... This is a very good pick.  Solis might turn out to be an excellent ally. 

Ezra Klein:

Harold Meyerson just ran into my office doing everything but clicking his heels in the air. The same sentiment has been echoed by every Labor supporter and union worker I know. I'd add one point: Solis is Hispanic. That's not tokenism. For the Secretary of Labor, it's relevant. The movement's most rapid growth is among immigrant workers, but for many years, immigration was the prime fissure separating newer unions, which focus on service workers and other low-wage industries, and older unions, which considered immigrant labor a threat. In recent years, the unions have painfully and courageously united around a vision that prizes immigrants as part of their coalition, and they were a major partner in the pro-immigrant rallies that swept through the nation in 2006. Solis helps cement that alliance, and that self-conception, which is good new for those of us who care about both growth and justice in Labor.

UPDATE II: SEIU blogger Matt Browner-Hamlin has only good things to say about Obama's choice:

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.  [...]

While working hard for American families in-session, Rep. Solis has made her progressive views on labor and workers' rights a centerpiece of her campaigns to represent California's 32nd District. Her campaign website included a detailed agenda for how Rep. Solis has fought and will continue to fight for America's workers. 

Full disclosure: SEIU's Illinois State Council sponsors this website.

More from Change To Win chair Anna Burger:

She would make the Labor Department an agency that once again protects and promotes the well-being of America's working men and women. President-elect Obama promised to make government work for working Americans and the appointment of Hilda Solis would make that promise real.

Solis has a life-long record as an advocate and activist for the cause and concerns of working Americans. She has fought to provide working families with a safe workplace, a healthy environment, a decent standard of living, affordable health care and equal opportunity. 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.

TPM Election Central has reactions from more labor leaders, including SEIU President Andy Stern.

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