Barack Obama has nominated California Democratic Rep. Hilda Solis as his labor secretary. Solis, the daughter of two Hispanic immigrants, has been in Congress since 2000. She has never served on the House Education and Labor Committee. She currently serves on the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
Solis received her degrees from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and the University of Southern California and worked for two federal agencies in Washington, D.C. She was elected to the California State Assembly in 1992 and to the California State Senate in 1994. She was the first Hispanic woman to serve in the State Senate, and was re-elected there in 1998. She became known for her work toward environmental justice and was the recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000.
Solis is well-liked by labor. Service Employee International Union ("SEIU") President Andy Stern hailed the nomination of Solis:
"As someone who has pounded the pavement knocking on doors for Hilda Solis in her first upset campaign in California, I can tell you firsthand that this woman is about opening doors for millions of Americans who get up and go to work each day.
From the streets of Los Angeles where she marched with the janitors who were fighting for jobs with dignity that can support a family through SEIU's Justice for Janitors campaigns, to the halls of Congress where she has been an outspoken supporter of healthcare rights for all, a livable minimum wage, and workers' right to come together for a voice on the job, Hilda Solis has never backed down from the good fight to make the American Dream available to all."
You can find Congresswoman Solis' Homepage here. It has links to her statements and bills that she is attached to.
The Associated Press quoted Randy Johnson, vice president for labor issues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with regard to what the response of business groups would be to her nomination: "There’s a new sheriff in town, but they’ll still have to deal with the business community, and they know it. We would hope she will continue to support programs that help educate employers about voluntary compliance with the law rather than pursue heavy-handed enforcement.”