Obama Selects Rep. Hilda Solis As Secretary of Labor
On December 19, 2008, President-Elect Barack Obama named Rep. Hilda Solis as Secretary of Labor. Speaking at a press conference that named her and others to open cabinet positions, Solis vowed to strengthen unions and enforce existing laws and regulations, particularly with respect to wage and hour, overtime, and pay discrimination. In November Solis was elected to her fifth term in Congress representing California’s 32nd Congressional District, which includes portions of the Los Angeles area, including East Los Angeles. Prior to her election to Congress, Solis served in the California State Assembly from 1992 to 1994. Solis made history by becoming the first Latina elected to the California State Senate in 1994, where she chaired the powerful Senate Industrial Relations Committee. Solis would be the third Latino member of Obama’s Cabinet, which has generated high praise from the Hispanic community. She is the child of immigrant parents and her upbringing shaped her as a strong advocate for workers’ rights. Her father was a Mexican immigrant who later became a Teamsters union steward. Her mother was born in Nicaragua and worked on an assembly line in the U.S. While a state legislator and Congresswoman, Solis wrote measures to help migrant workers, combat domestic violence, and limit pesticides. Solis graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California. She worked in the Carter White House Office of Hispanic Affairs and was later appointed as a management analyst with the Office of Management and Budget in the Civil Rights Division.