1:21 PM Eastern - Monday, March 16, 2009

New Sheriff in Town: Labor Secretary Solis Takes Oath of Office

On Friday morning, former California Rep. Hilda Solis was sworn in as Secretary of Labor by Vice President Joe Biden at the U.S. Dept. of Labor headquarters. The confirmation of Hilda Solis as labor secretary is a momentous occasion that SEIU and organized labor had been anticipating--and fighting for--since Barack Obama first nominated her in mid-December for the position.

Before the oath was administered, Biden spoke high praise for Solis' drive and leadership skills as a champion for the middle class:

"Things like fairness in the workplace and workplace safety are not just idle phrases that are to be debated in Hilda's mind; they're real...She knows that a job is more than about a paycheck...A job is about dignity. A job is about respect. Hilda understands that."

Biden describes Solis as a "woman of integrity" who respectfully demands to be heard--and has a long track record of standing up for workers' rights to prove it.

"When she was in the state legislature, when it came to domestic violence, to health care, to education, she was heard. When she held hearings on sweatshops, she was heard. When she fought to protect low-income and minority communities from landfill and pollution and environmental hazards, she was heard. And in Congress, when she stood up to level the playing field for workers who wanted to organize, she was heard.

"When it comes to standing up for expanding this economy for all people, no one is going to be a stronger voice than the new Secretary of Labor. Hilda Solis will fight. And today, we can all be proud this daughter of union members is now America's most forceful advocate for working men and women in this country."

After the swearing-in, Solis reiterated her goal to ensure workers receive fair treatment, a safe and healthy workplace and receive a wage they deserve. "To those who have for too long abused workers, put them in harm's way, denied them fair pay, let me be clear, there is a new sheriff in town," she said.

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