Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte
The last time I spoke to Hilda Solis was at the opening of the East Valley Clinic in West Covina. Before that, Solis was standing next to an unfinished Gold Line in Glendora listing the reasons why the foothill extension of the light-rail line was a good deal for the economy and the environment.
No doubt about it, Solis is a whirlwind on environmental issues, transportation and health care. Labor would not come first to my mind. But she did author a minimum wage hike law back in 1996.
Many people I spoke to today were suprised to hear the Associated Press report that Solis was President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee for secretary of labor. In fact, many were just as suprised a few years back when she won the Profiles in Courage Award. Quite an honor.
But Solis is not a stranger to labor issues. One of the biggest litmus tests for her will be the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow employees to form a union with a simple check mark on a card instead of a drawn-out union vote via secret ballots. The House passed the bill in 2007 along party lines by a vote of 241-185 and it received 51 Senate votes but not enough, that would be 60, to stop a filibuster. Is Obama positioning his cabinet and the Congress to pass the new law which will change the way labor unions are formed for the first time in 71 years?
Some say the battle over the EFCA will be the fiercest battle in the Congress and the Obama White House. Will Solis be in the middle of that fray?
By the way, she voted in favor.