Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced today she is resigning as the nation’s 25th Labor Secretary. In a letter to her Labor Department colleagues, Secretary Solis said she had time to reflect over the holidays about her achievements and has decided to “begin a new future,” in her words.
“Leaving the department is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, because I have taken our mission to heart,” said Solis. ”As the daughter of parents who worked in factories, paid their union dues and achieved their goal of a middle class life, and as the first Latina to head a major federal agency, it has been an incredible honor to serve,” she added. ”Growing up in a large Mexican-American family in La Puente, California, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to serve in a president’s Cabinet, let alone in the service of such an incredible leader,” stated Solis.
The Secretary listed what she considered to be her Department’s and the Administration’s accomplishments, saying “millions of Americans are back to work” following what she described as President Obama‘s bold action.
Solis also said she was proud of her department’s work on behalf of working families, saying 1.7 million people have completed federally funded job training programs and more than a million received industry-recognized credentials. Solis also touted Labor Department investments in community colleges, as well as using over $67 billion dollars to allocate unemployment insurance benefits, worker protection and job training. The Labor Secretary also said her office conducted a record number of investigations that collected the most back wages in the Department’s history.
President Obama released a statement, saying Solis had been a “tireless champion” for working families. “Over the last four years, Secretary Solis has been a critical member of my economic team as we have worked to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and strengthen the economy for the middle class,” said the President.
“It’s a loss to the country,” says labor economist and Georgetown University professor Adriana Kugler, who recently ended her post as Chief Economist to Solis at the Labor Department., “I have heard from many in the Department in the last few hours who have told me she was one of the most – if not the most – inspiring Labor Secretaries in the history of the Department. She had a true commitment to American workers,” says Kugler.
Texas Democratic Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement today that Secretary Solis “has been a strong advocate for the Hispanic community and for all American workers.”
The news about Solis comes at a time when the Obama administration’s new appointments are largely white, and male. ”Solis’ resignation leaves a greater void when it comes to diversity in the Administration,” says University of Maryland political scientist Stella Rouse.