Friday, July 19, 2024

Solis Meets with Union Workers in Miami

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis made her first public speech at an open meeting with labor unions on Monday at a church in Overtown, an inner-city community in Miami.  Solis told the crowd “there’s a new sheriff in town” as union members made pleas for jobs, health care, education and better protection for workers.

With a background as a California politician with a working class background and immigrant parents, Solis has been welcomed by American labor unions that complain workers’ rights were violated and worker protection laws were ignored during the Bush administration.

“My goal and my dream in this country is to have my own home,” said painter, Natanael Aburto, a 28-year-old immigrant from Nicaragua who supports a wife and two children. “But I’m afraid that tomorrow I might not have a job.”

This is an all too common phrase heard in Miami, a city where employment boomed during the peak of the U.S. housing frenzy but now is among the hardest hit in the economic downturn. Florida unemployment has doubled in the last two years, reaching around 8 percent and affecting many Hispanics.

The Labor Secretary made no new pledges on job creation during the forum, which was organized by the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labor federation representing unions with 11 million members. She reiterated the Obama administration’s vow to pump money into healthcare and “green” jobs, and said she intended to enforce labor laws ignored in recent years.

Solis told the union members she would fully implement the Employee Free Choice Act if it becomes law. The union-backed measure would allow workers to organize a union by signing authorization cards instead of holding a formal vote.

Asked after the forum what kind of message she was sending to big business by making her first public appearance at a union meeting, Solis said she was not going to “go after” companies but vowed to work in partnership with them to help workers get good-paying jobs.

“If you take care of an employee, that employee will produce. Productivity by our workforce, especially union members, has increased,” she said. “But we don’t see the same value in terms of their wages going up. So there has to be some morality placed there.”

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said unions have high hopes for the new secretary of labor.

“I say the same thing about the secretary as I have said about Barack Obama. I trust Barack Obama,” he said. “I believe what he told us during the campaign are promises that he’s going to stick to, whether it’s healthcare, financial security, employee free choice, education. The list is long.”


Miami Herald


  1. Mohebat Ahdiyyih says

    I enjoyed reading the Latinovations “La Plaza” Newsletter for the
    Week of February 24- March 3, 2009. The story about Hilda Solis as the first Hispanic woman to serve in Obama’s Cabinet as the Labor Secretary was particularly interesting but the rest of the news was also very informative.