Thanks to his dogged insistence on prosecuting 9/11 conspirators in civilian courts and his refusal to prosecute the Philadelphia New Black Panther case, Attorney General Eric Holder has long appeared to us as President Barack Obama’s worst cabinet appointment. But based on her wholly inappropriate remarks at a recent Democratic National Committee gathering, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis is running a close second.
There is nothing wrong with Solis speaking at the DNC, of course, as she is a former Democratic congresswoman from a California district. The problem is that her DNC remarks made clear that Solis labors under the assumption that she represents only the steadily dwindling sliver of the American workforce that is still unionized. As a result, Solis is leaving the other 90 percent of American workers high and dry.
Here’s the key passage from Solis’ remarks at the DNC on public employee protests in Wisconsin and Ohio that point to her fractured understanding of who she represents: “The fight is on. We work together. We help those embattled states right now where public employees are under assault.” She called members of the protesting public employee unions “our brothers and sisters” and pledged to help them against Republican governors Scott Walker and John Kasich. With those remarks, Solis effectively put the federal government in the de facto position of aiding protestors opposing governors doing what they were elected to do less than five months ago.
The Labor Department’s mission statement says it is supposed “to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States.” There is nothing in the statement about taking the union side in collective bargaining conflicts, much less about deploying her department’s 17,000-plus civil servants for or against either side in any labor-management compensation dispute, much less one between a sovereign state and its workers.
When she was in Congress, Solis was an aggressive advocate of Big Labor’s No. 1 legislative priority, the horribly misnamed Employee Free Choice Act, aka “Card Check.” That’s the union proposal to abolish secret ballots in employee workplace representation elections. With their membership numbers plummeting everywhere except in government, union leaders are desperate to make employee votes public so they can decide who gets additional “persuasion.”
It should also be noted that while Solis was in Congress, she was the keynote speaker at the 2005 Democratic Socialists of America national conference on “Socialism for the 21st Century.” Frankly, it sounds like Solis would be more at home in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.