Amid Wisconsin battle, Labor Secy joins union planning call: 'Let's keep fighting' 

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis took part in a Communications Workers of America conference call Wednesday night in which she expressed her strong support for unions fighting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget.  "Let's keep fighting," Solis told CWA president Larry Cohen and thousands of CWA shop stewards listening to the call.

"I'm very excited to hear about the enthusiasm that's going on in Wisconsin and around the country," Solis said.  "I am so inspired and proud of all of you, especially those who went down to Wisconsin and also around the country." (Listen to audio of the call here.)

On more than one occasion, Solis referred to herself as part of the pro-union, anti-Walker cause.  "I say let's keep fighting," Solis said, "let's stand up for all workers, and let's mobilize and do what we do best, and that is to make sure that the American public understands that union rights are no different from human rights."  On another occasion, Solis said, "We are willing to meet those folks at the table," referring to Gov. Walker and the Republican legislative majority in Wisconsin.

At the end of Solis' remarks, Cohen, the CWA president, said, "I think all of us feel like those were historic words, for a member of the cabinet standing with us as clearly as you do, and, as you remind me, speaking for the president."

After a statement early in the Wisconsin standoff that Walker's proposed limits on collective bargaining represented "an assault on unions," President Obama has stayed largely quiet about the Wisconsin standoff, as have most administration officials.

As Labor Secretary, Solis' job is "to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States," according to the Department's website.  The mission statement does not mention unions. "The Labor Department should not represent only that part of the workforce that is unionized," Elaine Chao, Labor Secretary under George W. Bush, told the Washington Examiner earlier this week.  "It should be responsible for the overall welfare of the entire American workforce."

Solis' remarks are more evidence that she has committed the Labor Department firmly against the governor, as well as the Assembly and Senate majorities, in Wisconsin. Last weekend, Solis spoke at the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting in Washington and expressed solidarity with "our brothers and sisters in public employee unions" who are "under assault" in Wisconsin and elsewhere. (h/t: Marathon Pundit)

About The Author

Byron York


Byron York is the Examiner’s chief political correspondent. His column appears Tuesdays and Fridays. He blogs throughout the week at Beltway Confidential.

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