WASHINGTON - Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who repeatedly declared herself "the new sheriff in town" on behalf of workers the last four years, resigned her position on Jan. 9, after talks with her family over the holiday break about her future.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka praised Solis for standing up for workers' and for coming down hard on corporate violators, especially in the job safety and health field. "Hilda Solis brought urgently needed change to the Department of Labor, putting the U.S. government firmly on the side of working families," he said.
"Under Secretary Solis, the department became a place of safety and support for workers. Secretary Solis' Department of Labor talks tough and acts tough on enforcement, workplace safety, wage and hour violations and so many other vital services.
"Secretary Solis never lost sight of her own working-class roots, and she always put the values of working families at the center of everything she did. We hope her successor will continue to be a powerful voice both within the Obama administration and across the country for all workers," Trumka concluded.
There is no immediate word yet on whom President Obama would nominate to succeed Solis, 55, a former congresswoman from Los Angeles. Solis said she would return to Los Angeles, but did not disclose her future plans.
There has been speculation that union leaders around the country would like to see Leo Gerard, president of the Steelworkers, move into that slot. There was an article last November in the National Journal, a weekly magazine that covers the executive branch that reported on such speculation. The article said Gerard was the favorite of union leaders should Solis decide to step down.
A second possibility being discussed unofficially is veteran Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the runner-up for the Labor Secretary's post when Solis got it four years ago. DeLauro is the top Democrat on the House appropriations subcommittee that helps dispense funding for the Department of Labor and other agencies.
In her resignation message, Solis thanked the department's workers. She added that together they helped implement the Obama administration's recovery measures from the Great Recession and stepped up job retraining and labor law enforcement in safety, health and wage and hour areas.
"We also played an important and active role in crafting regulatory actions to implement key aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Our work will help make President Obama's vision of a health care system that works for America a reality for millions of people," she said.