Friday, December 19, 2008

Good news and bad news for Labor

Good News: Hilda Solis as secretary of Labor. TomP:

A labor official says Rep. Hilda Solis of California will be nominated as labor secretary by President-elect Barack Obama.


She looks like a good choice.

Time and time again, Hilda has stated that the strength of the national economy is directly linked to the ability of America's workers to organize. For this reason, Hilda proudly cast a "yay" vote in favor of H.R. 800, the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that restores the right of workers to form a union.

On Trade:

Supporting Fair Trade, Not Free Trade

Hilda only supports responsible U.S. trade policies that are fair to working families within the U.S. and abroad. She avidly opposes all trade agreements that do not include strong labor, environmental, and human rights protections.

Her track record in the House of Representatives reflects her strong support for Fair Trade policies. She was a leading opponent of the United States - Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) because it would contribute to the rapid job loss within the United States and further the decline of working and environmental conditions in the Amercas. In addition, she staunchly opposes granting President Bush "fast track" trade negotiating authority, an authority that would effectively silence Fair Trade proponents in Congress.

Hilda Solis for Congress

Voted NO on promoting free trade with Peru. (Nov 2007)

Voted YES on assisting workers who lose jobs due to globalization. (Oct 2007)

Voted NO on implementing CAFTA, Central America Free Trade. (Jul 2005)

Voted NO on implementing US-Australia Free Trade Agreement. (Jul 2004)

Voted NO on implementing US-Singapore free trade agreement. (Jul 2003)

Voted NO on implementing free trade agreement with Chile. (Jul 2003)

No MFN for China; condition trade on human rights. (Nov 1999)

With a record like that on trade, she would have made a great Trade Representative. Too bad the guy he picked kind of sucks:
Many trade specialists figure that Mr. Obama, who views himself as an internationalist, will find a way to back trade liberalization.

By naming Mr. Kirk, Mr. Obama nodded to the free-trade wing of the Democratic Party, which is small but has important ties to business. As Dallas's first African-American mayor, between 1995 and 2001, Mr. Kirk promoted Dallas on trips overseas and extolled the benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In 2001, for instance, he championed plans to build a "Nafta Freeway" between the U.S. and Mexico to speed cross-border shipments. At the time, he called such a road a "true river of trade between our communities."

That's not good, but mostly expected based on Obama's previous positions on trade.

Solis will be good for rebuilding the department that Bush destroyed, which will be as difficult of a job as anyone will get on the 21st. I wish her appointment had come sooner, and I'd be lying if I didn't think it was representative of where labor sits on his list of priorities. Even that great friend of organized labor Bill Clinton included the Sec. of Labor as a part of his economic team (although in fairness, labor was soon dropped out of that group, and of relevance all together with the push for NAFTA).

So all in all, mixed feelings. A president who is willing to go hard whipping votes for the wall street bailout, but is largely absent as the auto loan deals collapse is probably not going to go to the mat votes for the Employee Free Choice Act. If I had to make a guess now, I'd say he lets them bring it up, lets it fail, and claims he did all he could but they didn't have the votes. I'm not saying his support of the bill is disingenuous, but it doesn't seem anywhere near the top of his priorities, so the idea that he'd use political capital on it is highly unlikely.

But then again, he may have talked a good game for a few weeks during the primary, but he has always been right of center on trade, and while he talked about passing the employee free choice act, it's not like he made concrete statements of when he'd pass it (like Clinton, Edwards and some others did during the primary). On those grounds it's hard to get too upset when someone doesn't deliver things they never promised to do. (Trade might be the exception here, but he backtracked so quickly I don't think people really believed it)

As always, prove me wrong, Barack. I just keep getting the sense that Labor not prepared for the shaft they are about to receive.

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