Hilda Solis, the daughter of a Teamster shop steward, will soon step down as Secretary of the U.S. Labor Department.
Labor secretaries get little press compared to Cabinet posts such as Defense or State. So Solis's accomplishments may be overlooked.
Not by us.
During her 4 years in office, 1.7 million American workers completed federal job-training programs.
Last year alone, the Labor Department's wage-and-hour division recovered a record $280 million in back pay for 300,000 workers.
And she advocated aggressively for worker safety. On her watch, BP was fined a record $87 million for its role in a 2005 refinery explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 170 others.
Solis faced harsh opposition from members of Congress who fought the Employee Free Choice Act, tightened child labor laws and nearly any significant employer regulation. She stood up to pressure to harass labor unions with more disclosure requirements. Instead, she pushed for rules to require employers to reveal what they pay to union busting consultants. And she spoke out against attacks on collective bargaining rights in the states.
Dave Jamieson at the Huffington Post explained some of the difficulties Solis encountered:
Solis' efforts on workplace safety, perhaps more than anything else, revealed the challenges of her job. Her department introduced a handful of pro-worker regulations that were strongly challenged by business groups and GOP members of Congress, creating enough pressure to delay the rules at the White House or even scuttle the reforms. That includes a controversial tightening of child labor laws in agriculture that Solis, the first Latina to head a federal agency, had championed on behalf of child and migrant workers.
Teamsters General President thanked her for her efforts to help working men and women achieve fairness and dignity on the job.
As Secretary of Labor she has worked diligently to create a department that protects workers and ensures that we have the strongest workforce in the world.
She will be missed.