I just learned that Hilda Solis has submitted her resignation letter to the president. She has been a tireless champion for low-wage and immigrant workers. We thank her for her work, dedication and passion. She will be deeply missed by faith and worker advocates around the country.
Now we need the President to appoint another worker rights champion to follow in her footsteps –and quickly. There is so much work to be done and the Department of Labor needs someone with Secretary Solis’ passion and vision. We need a fighter and a prophet. We need someone who will push forward regulations designed to bring the nation’s labor laws into the current century, like the caregivers regulation that provides minimum wage and overtime coverage to professional home care workers. IWJ would also like to see the paystub transparency regulation moved forward quickly. This would require every employer to provide a paystub explaining clearly (yes, clearly) how workers are paid. This would help workers who are routinely cheated by their employers who pay in cash, offer direct deposit with no accounting for hours or take unusual (and illegal) deductions without explanations.
We need a Secretary who will fight for resources for enforcement. In the current budget-cutting frenzy, there is bound to be efforts to cut enforcement. With only one enforcement staff person for every 135,000 workers, we can’t afford any cuts.
We need a Secretary who will push for job creation. Job training is good, but it isn’t enough. We need investment in job creation. Despite the declining unemployment figures, for which we are grateful, there are still millions of workers without jobs and millions more who’ve given up looking for jobs. We can do better as a nation and the Secretary must lead us in finding ways to invest in and create new jobs.
We need a Secretary who will champion immigration reform. Every worker in the country is affected when 11 million workers do not have the protection of citizenship. Employers know they can exploit workers without documents, and too many unethical employers do so, driving down wages and standards for all workers in the nation.
And, we need a Secretary who will keep the concerns of working men and women on the front of the public dialogue. There are many advocates of corporate interests in the Cabinet and Congress. Not nearly as many advocates for workers. We need a Secretary who recognizes the power of and is not afraid to use the bully pulpit.
Today, we give thanks for all Secretary Hilda Solis has done. Tomorrow, we pray for a new leader who will champion the nation’s workers.
What characteristics are you looking for in the new Secretary of Labor? What policy should the new Secretary of Labor push? Who should fill the position? What advances made by Sec. Solis are you most thankful?