President-elect Barack Obama announced today that he will nominate Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) to be his Secretary of Labor. Solis has a solid record of advocacy for workers and unions. She has fought for the protection of minimum wage laws and for workplace health and safety. She has creatively combined her interests in the working class and the environment to produce legislation that promotes the creation of “green” jobs. She appears to have precisely the sort of experience and commitment to undue the damage of the Bush Labor Department and set the nation on a more productive and compassionate course. But wait, there’s more…
Solis also serves on the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, which gives her a firm background in matters of the media. In that regard she has been a vocal proponent of increasing diversity in the media and for creating more opportunities for women and minorities.
Solis endorsed the Free Press study that exposed how consolidation in the radio industry narrowed the range of expression on the air and in the management suites. She also challenged the FCC and its Bush appointed chairman, Kevin Martin, to look into media ownership issues. She worked with Media Matters on a project that identified how right-wing broadcasters like Lou Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck were propagating racist myths about immigration.
In short, were it not for her exemplary credentials in the field of Labor, Solis would have made a great FCC commissioner. But even as Labor Secretary there are areas that overlap with the media, and Solis has already proven herself to be a leader in that regard. And it certainly won’t hurt to have her voice in Cabinet meetings when the subject of the media comes up.