01/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Solis' History of Fighting for Workers

I've been bouncing in my ergonomic desk chair over Obama's pick for Secretary of Labor. No big surprise that the sentiment was shared by other folks around this union and others.

It's not just because she sponsors the House version of a bill to revive workers' right to organize -- any progressive supports that. What's so special about Rep. Solis is how much she has been on the ground, helping working people for decades. Often with UNITE HERE.

I've seen Rep. Solis speak and I'm familiar with her successful policy work but some of my colleagues have worked with her for decades. She has a deep and personal connection with working Americans that stems from decades working to help workers get their rights.

Here's an email that UNITE HERE Prez. Bruce Raynor just sent to President-elect Obama in support of our next Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis. It has some history you might not know:

Dear President Obama,

I would like to applaud your choice of Representative Hilda Solis to be our next Secretary of labor. In these trying economic times working Americans need someone who will stand with them and help build an economy that works for working people. Rep. Solis comes from a union family and has been a leader in congress promoting the Employee Free Choice Act as a means of expanding and rebuilding the American middle class.

At Unite Here events Congresswoman Solis is known as an honorary shop steward--a symbol of the respect she has earned throughout our decades-long working relationship. She has walked numerous picket-lines with us in Southern California. In return, our members have worked in every single Solis campaign. And, when she ran for the U.S. Congress, we were the first union to endorse her.

Congresswoman Solis was a key ally for Unite Here when, in 1995, we discovered immigrant workers living as slaves in an El Monte, California garment sweatshop. She helped us raise money to bail detained workers out of ICE while she also pushed for aggressive prosecution of sweatshop operators. Furthermore, Congresswoman Solis's help in passing the anti-sweatshop Assembly Bill 633 fundamentally altered the garment industry in California and bettered the lives thousands of low-wage workers.

In 1999, Congresswoman Solis further showed her dedication to working people when she contributed $50,000 of her own campaign money in order to pass the California Minimum Wage Increase Initiative--Proposition 210.

Her unique depth of understanding of workers issues comes from lived experience-- it will serve our national well to listen to it.

On behalf of the workers in the apparel, textile, hotel, food service, gaming, and laundry industries, we thank you.