Meet Obama’s Cabinet: 7 Things to Know About Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis

hilda_solis-usa-vice-chair

Her bio :  “Solis, first elected in 2000, had set her priorities in Congress as expanding access to affordable healthcare, protecting the environment and improving the lives of working families. She is the first Latina to serve on the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce, serves as co-vice chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and was a former co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues…In California, she served in the State Assembly from 1992 to 1994 and was elected to the State Senate in 1994…She also served in the Carter White House Office of Hispanic Affairs and was later appointed as a management analyst with the Office of Management and Budget in the Civil Rights Division. ”  (Human Resource Executive Online)

She is loyal to her working class roots:  “Solis grew up on tales of workplace struggles from her Mexican immigrant father, a Teamsters union steward. Her mother, born in Nicaragua, worked on an assembly line.  That upbringing shaped Solis, 51, into a tenacious advocate for workers’ rights…As a Democratic congresswoman from California since 2001 and during eight years in the state’s legislature before that, Solis wrote measures to help migrant workers, combat domestic violence and limit use of pesticides…The third child of seven and the first in her family to attend college, Solis has been the only member of Congress of Central American descent. She represents a heavily Hispanic district that includes portions of eastern Los Angeles County and East L.A. (AP)

She supports the Employee Free Choice Act:  “The new labor secretary will be in the middle of the battle over legislation, called the Employee Free Choice Act, aimed at making it easier for workers to unionize. The proposal would require employers to automatically recognize a union once a majority of workers sign up to join one. Current rules require a federally supervised election process.  The measure is organized labor’s top priority and faces strong opposition from businesses and Republicans, as well as some Democrats.  Critics say the law would deny employees a secret ballot election and make them vulnerable to union scare tactics. Supporters say company managers are the ones using intimidation to stop employees from organizing.  Solis, whose father was a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and mother a member of the United Rubber Workers, is an advocate of the so-called card check bill.” (Bloomberg)

She supports green collar jobs:  “Rep. Solis’ signature legislative achievement was the 2007 ‘Green Jobs Act.’  That bill, signed into law as part of the broader 2007 energy act, provides federal money for ‘green collar’ job training, ‘such as energy efficiency retrofit and service, green building construction, and solar panel installation.’ Rep. Solis figures green-job training could create as many as 3 million new jobs in the next decade. Other studies touted by the Obama administration talk of up to 5 million green-collar jobs.” (WSJ.com)

She upped minimum wage in CA:  “In 1996, when she was a back-bencher (and the first Latina) in the California State Senate, Hilda Solis did something that no other political figure I known of had done before, or has done since: She took money out of her own political account to fund a social justice campaign. Under California law, the state minimum wage is set by the gubernatorially-appointed Industrial Welfare Commission, and California’s governors for the preceding 14 years, Republicans George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson, hadn’t exactly appointed members inclined to raise that wage. So Solis dipped into her own campaign treasury and came up with the money to fund the signature-gatherers to put a minimum wage hike initiative on the California ballot. The signature gatherers gathered the signatures, the measure was placed on the ballot, it passed handily in the next election, and California’s low-wage janitors and gardeners and fry and taco cooks, and millions like them, got a significant raise.”  (The American Prospect)

She has worked to end violence against women:  Solis “led a U.S. congressional delegation to El Paso-Juárez five years ago to look into complaints about the abductions and murders of hundreds of women in Juárez and Chihuahua City.  Back then, Solis, D-Calif., told the El Paso Times, ‘If we can cure the ills of countries in the Middle East, then why can’t we do the same on our own borders? This is an international human-rights issue.’  The group toured the area and received briefings from the FBI, Mexican officials, victims’ families and others.  Solis also spearheaded a House resolution condemning the murders and urging U.S. involvement to solve them. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., introduced the same resolution the House adopted in the Senate. The Senate adopted the resolution unanimously on May 3, 2006, when Obama was a junior senator representing Illinois.”  (El Paso Times)

She stopped the expansion of landfills:  “Back home in Los Angeles in the 1980s, she was soon elected to the Board of Trustees of a local community college. It was here, in the battle to stop the expansion of a local landfill, that she first became active on the issue of environmental justice for the residents of minority communities, and she’s been a leader on the issue ever since.  As Hilda once said, ‘If you flew over my State Senate district, you’d think it was a war zone – the enormous garbage dumps — the largest landfill west of the Mississippi River — acre after acre of gigantic rock mining pits — rocket-fuel additives polluting the ground-water.’…She dedicated herself to ending that injustice. She didn’t hesitate to take on the entire Los Angeles County Sanitation District — and all 80 local mayors who made it so powerful.”  (Sen. Ted Kennedy via The Huffington Post)

Posted by: Mariela

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