Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’ decision not to serve in the second Obama Cabinet as labor secretary is a huge loss. It’s a loss not just for the labor movement and working people; it’s also a loss for Latinos and for progressives.
And it’s a loss for the entire United States.
Solis was the first Latina to head a Cabinet-level agency. She was one of five female Cabinet secretaries, and one of two Latinos, in the Obama administration. After Interior Secretary Ken Salazar leaves, this means there would be no Latino representation in the Cabinet.
It would make all that hype we saw last year about the importance of the Latino vote seem like a hazy fantasy.
Despite having strong backing from unions, which heavily supported President Obama in both his campaigns, Solis may have been too progressive for his administration. For example, when Solis wanted to set safety regulations to protect minors under age 16 who are working on farms — and these are overwhelmingly Latino immigrants or the children of immigrants — the administration balked.
Solis may be returning to California, where she was raised as the daughter of Nicaraguan and Mexican immigrants. She served in the U.S. Congress for eight years representing the Los Angeles area. Rumor has it she may run for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. That would be a win for Los Angeles. But her departure from the Cabinet spells trouble for workers.
We need a labor secretary who is not afraid to stand up against Democrats bending to corporate interests or Republicans displaying their hatred of unions. We had one with Hilda Solis. She leaves some big tacones (high heels) to fill.
Maegan Ortiz is a writer for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues.