Senate panel approves Solis as labor secretary

(AFL-CIO Blog) One week after postponing a confirmation vote on Hilda Soli as secretary of labor, the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today approved on a voice vote President’s Obama’s choice to lead the Labor Department and sent the nomination to the full Senate for confirmation. That vote could come tomorrow.

The Solis nomination was announced in December, and her confirmation hearing took place Jan. 9. But Big Business groups and a number of Republican senators have loudly, and at times almost hysterically, complained about Solis’ long record of support for working families and unions.

Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has called Solis “a tireless champion for working families.”

After eight years of the Bush administration’s Department of Labor under Elaine Chao—trashing workers’ rights, weakening workplace safety rules, ignoring wage and hour violations and siding with Big Business at about every juncture—the idea of a labor secretary siding with workers must be terrifying to some.

Most of the criticism centers on Solis’ support of the Employee Free Choice Act, which she has co-sponsored in the House. Republican senators have even suggested that if confirmed, Solis should be barred from advocating for the restoration of workers’ rights to form a union and bargain for a better life, as the bill provides.

Says AFL-CIO President John Sweeney:

'Senate Republicans can’t just oppose a secretary of labor because she supports working Americans and favors curbing excessive corporate power.'