Although Connecticut’s own Rep. Rosa DeLauro was rumored to be on the short list for a Secretary of Labor post, reports Thursday evening suggest that Rep. Hilda Solis – a Democrat from California – has been tapped for that position.
So, what’s the immediate feedback from labor and business groups? Well, labor groups issued a press release praising the pick and business groups expressed concern. The New York Times sums it up here:
Ms. Solis has championed a bill, called the Employee Free Choice Act, that is the No. 1 priority of organized labor because it would make it far easier to unionize workers. The business community bitterly opposes the bill. She is the only member of Congress on the board of American Rights at Work, a pro-union group pushing for the bill.
“We’re thrilled at the prospect of having Representative Hilda Solis as our nation’s next labor secretary,” said John J. Sweeney, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. “We’re confident that she will return to the Labor Department one of its core missions: to defend workers’ basic rights in our nation’s workplaces. She’s proven to be a passionate leader and advocate for all working families.”
Labor leaders say they are very pleased that Ms. Solis joined them in opposing the Central American Free Trade Agreement as well as the pending trade agreement with Colombia.
By contrast, the reaction of business groups to the choice of Ms. Solis ranged from tactful displeasure to sharp dismay.
“We’re disappointed that she supports the Employee Free Choice Act,” said Randel K. Johnson, the vice president of labor policy at the United States Chamber of Commerce. “We expected Obama to pick someone supported by the A.F.L.-C.I.O. She’s not a pick whose philosophy we didn’t expect. We will disagree with her on some issues and work with her on some.”
The Washington Labor & Employment Wire has some more specifics on Rep. Solis’s positions, including her support for EFCA and "green collar" jobs.
For employers in Connecticut, there’s likely to be a lot of hype about Rep. Solis’ positions supporting labor. But before you leap, ask yourself this — can you name the current Secretary of Labor? Chances are, probably not. (It’s Elaine Chao.)
Why? Because the President has dictated and will dictate what the agenda will be and what his priorities are going to be. Given President-Elect Obama’s desire to seek consensus on a variety of issues, time will tell just what that agenda is going to look like.