Hilda Solis: Obama’s Labor Secretary (VIDEO)
Democratic Rep. Hilda Solis of California will be Barack Obama’s pick for labor secretary as the president-elect fills the last open positions in his Cabinet, a labor official told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Solis, who is the daughter of Mexican and Nicaraguan immigrants, has been the only member of Congress of Central American descent. She just won a fifth term representing heavily Hispanic portions of eastern Los Angeles County and east LA.
Obama planned to announce Solis’ selection on Friday along with his selection of Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois for transportation secretary. The official spoke on conditions of anonymity because an announcement has not been made yet. A call to Solis’s office was not immediately returned.
Solis, in 1994, was the first Latina elected to the California Senate, where she led the battle to increase the state’s minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.75 an hour in 1996.
In Congress, she wrote a measure that authorized $125 million for work force training programs in areas such as energy efficiency retrofitting and “green building” construction.
Andy Stern, president of the 1.9-million member Service Employees International Union, the 51-year-old praised Solis for her deep roots in the union movement. He recalled marching with her in Los Angeles — well before she was elected to Congress — to seek higher wages and benefits for janitors.
“We were with her fighting for the rights of people who work from the beginning and we’re so proud that she’s been chosen to be the labor secretary,” Stern said.
Solis is viewed by environmental groups as one of the foremost proponents of green jobs and environmental justice. The Sierra Club and Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson have more on her record, and Johnson posts this video of Solis speaking “about her commitment to solving global warming through a clean energy economy for all”: