A Leftist in Labor
By: John Perazzo
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Faced with the greatest economic downturn in decades, Barack Obama opted to put a far-Left ideologue in charge of labor-employer relations by nominating Hilda Solis as his choice for Labor Secretary. Leftists swooned at the nomination. Solis has received significant support from such far-leftists as The Nation magazine, Mother Jones, AlterNet, and the openly Socialist publication In These Times (which called her a “great choice for Labor”).
Just how left-wing is her record? Consider this: In June 1996 Solis dispatched an individual named Antonio Aguilar to represent her and to serve as a presenter at a major Communist Party USA event. Likewise in June 2008, she sent a caseworker from her East Los Angeles office, Elana Henry, to represent her at a workers’ rights forum organized by the Socialist International, which bills itself as “the worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist, and labor parties.”
Unfortunately, these are not two isolated incidents. Rep. Solis has spent her career advocating on behalf on radical causes. A Congresswoman since 2001, Solis is a member of the Progressive Caucus, the socialist wing of the Democrat Party in the House of Representatives. The Caucus was founded by the self-identified Socialist and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders—himself a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, which describes itself as “the principal U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International.” The Progressive Caucus laments that “the concentration of wealth is a problem because it distorts our democracy, destabilizes the economy and erodes our social and cultural fabric,” a crisis for which it advocates “a package of legislative initiatives that will close America’s economic divide and address both income and wealth disparities.”
In other words, Hilda Solis wants to spread the wealth around. And her lifelong record bears it out.
Solis’ introduction to the world of politics took place in 1980, when she was an intern in Jimmy Carter’s White House Office of Hispanic Affairs. The following year she worked briefly as an analyst for the Office of Management and Budget, but she soon left that post because of her distaste for the policies of the newly elected President, Ronald Reagan. After spending the next decade working at various jobs in California, in 1992 Solis was elected to the California state legislature. Two years later she won a seat in the state senate, which she would hold until 2000, when she ran successfully for a spot in the U.S. House of Representatives. Her congressional campaign was buoyed by strong support from such leftist stalwarts as EMILY's List, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters. She has been re-elected every two years since.
Solis’ voting record in Congress reads like a veritable ode to the redistribution of wealth, the dismantling American national security, and the granting of blanket amnesty to cheap labor provided by illegal immigrants. Through 2007, Solis had compiled a lifetime two-percent rating from the American Conservative Union and a 100-percent “liberal quotient” rating from Americans for Democratic Action. The prospective Labor secretary has a trifecta of anti-business views, opposing policies that promote job creation on economic, labor, and environmental grounds.
As noted, Solis is an economic redistributionist. Since a Republican (George W. Bush) controlled the White House during her entire tenure in the House of Representatives, she worked out her principles by opposing stimulative tax cuts. It is not surprising that a “progressive” like Solis voted against President Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, against repealing the Death Tax in 2005, and against $69.96 billion in tax cuts and credits in 2006. As Labor Secretary, she can continue to push an anti-business agenda in the midst of a deep recession.
Solis is also a promoter of the Green agenda, opposing measures that would allow businesses (or consumers) access to affordable natural resources, like gasoline. She has consistently voted against drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore drilling. Not content to limit exploration of new oil reserves, she has opted to slow down the rate at which we process the fossil fuels we uncover. In the House, she voted against the construction of new oil refineries in the United States, although no new refineries have been built since 1976 and, as Hurricane Katrina proved, many are located in an area vulnerable to natural disasters. For these and similar votes, the League of Conservation Voters dubbed Solis an “outstanding advocate for the enforcement of environmental laws, preservation of open space, and environmental justice.” The Sierra Club has even created the “Hilda L. Solis Environmental Youth Leadership Award,” calling her “an inspiration and…a national champion for environmental justice and environmental health.”
Solis has managed to reconcile an environmentalist agenda with an unbridled advocacy for labor unions. She is a fierce advocate of unionization in the private sector, where membership has dwindled from 38 percent of America’s total workforce in 1948 to just 7.5 percent today. Notwithstanding that decline, Solis understands that private-sector unions represent potentially fertile gardens wherein the deep roots of government meddling may take hold. Toward that end, she supports the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would authorize a federal arbitrator to render a final and binding resolution for any union negotiations that are not settled quickly, meaning that, as journalist Claire Berlinski puts it, “the federal government will gain the power to dictate the terms of a contract and to set wages, benefits, hours, and work rules.” In other words, a seemingly benign measure will vastly increase the government’s dominion over the private sector, the ever-present goal of Progressives.
Moreover, the EFCA would make it easier for organizers to intimidate workers into forming new unions. As things now stand, employees may choose any of three methods for deciding whether or not to become unionized: (a) a secret ballot wherein they privately and anonymously indicate their preference; (b) a signature drive, where they publicly affirm their wishes; or (c) a “card check” system, which unionizes employees if a majority sign their names on union-authorization cards. Clearly, the latter two options are far likelier than the first to expose employees to coercion or intimidation by union leaders or organizers. Under the current system, an employer, if he suspects that union organizers may be pressuring his workers to unionize, can demand a government-supervised secret-ballot vote to settle the matter. The EFCA would eliminate this right.
In her quest to unionize ever-greater numbers of American workers, Solis serves as a board of directors member of American Rights at Work (ARW), an organization that encourages employees to form unions and bargain collectively. ARW’s Executive Director, Mary Beth Maxwell, was formerly the Deputy Field Director for NARAL, which supports a woman’s right to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand any time, for any reason. ARW’s Chairman is former Congressman David Bonior, who was, like Solis, a Progressive Caucus member with a passion for “social and economic justice”—code for “socialism” in the lexicon of the Left. Like other leftist Democrats, Solis is also intent on expanding the size of public-sector, or government, unions. This is because those unions provide immense revenues for Democrat political campaigns. Political journalist Lowell Ponte explains that because “government workers get their money not from a free marketplace but from coerced taxes,” their unions are wholly sympathetic to the economic centralization and redistribution at the heart of the Democratic Party. For their continued growth, indeed for their very existence, government unions must depend on the help of legislators who are committed to swelling the size of the government and its labor force of dues-paying workers. Thus, we see the virtual unanimity with which government unions, whose members comprise fully 37 percent of public-sector employees, support Democrats. One public-sector union to which Solis has forged particularly close ties is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), currently headed by the former New Leftist Andrew Stern. Stern, in turn, has close political ties to billionaire financier George Soros. Solis’ political values and agendas square perfectly with those of Soros and Stern. When President Obama announced his selection of Solis for Labor Secretary, SEIU Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina lauded her as “a champion for the rights of immigrant workers” who is intent on “fixing our broken immigration system” and “guarantee[ing] civil rights and basic fairness for all workers—no matter where they come from.”
Solis has indeed shown blasé indifference to the integrity of America's borders—and the integrity of such things as state drivers licenses. The California congresswoman voted against granting state and local officials the authority to investigate, identify, and arrest illegal immigrants; against the Real ID Act, which proposed to set minimal security requirements for state driver licenses and identification cards; against requiring hospitals to report illegal aliens who receive emergency medical treatment; and against separate, and wildly popular, bills authorizing the construction of a 700-mile, double-layered security fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. The unrestrained flood of illegal immigrants threatens to put Americans—particularly the most marginal and most vulnerable workers, especially minorities—out of work, and the ever-increasing number of illegal immigrants promises to tax our already overburdened public services to the breaking point. Nonetheless, Obama's Labor Secretary-designate sides with foreigners and Open Borders advocates against the American people. Ironically, Open Borders is one policy upon which Big Business and Big Labor agree.
Allowing a wave of illegal immigrants, including thousands of OTMs (Other Than Mexicans), to cross our southern border every year has ramifications beyond throwing Americans out of work and creating a constituency for the big-government programs socialists love. In this age of sleeper cells and homegrown terrorists, the giant in our midst may conceal a national-security threat. Given her House voting record, it appears that Solis little cares. She voted against a bill permitting airline pilots to carry firearms for the purpose defending their cockpits and passengers; against a bill permitting the government to use electronic surveillance to investigate suspected terrorist operatives; against the establishment of military commissions to try enemy combatants captured in the War on Terror (preferring instead to adjudicate such cases in the civilian court system); against a bill permitting the government to monitor suspected terrorists’ foreign electronic communications which were routed through the United States; and in favor of a proposal to expedite the transfer of all prisoners currently being held at the Guantanamo Bay.
As Labor Secretary, the decisions Hilda Solis makes may have wider, deadlier, implications than many consider. But the economic consequences are frightening enough.
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