During a conference call this week with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis expressed the Obama administration staunch support for union workers who are fighting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget legislation.
"Let's keep fighting," Solis reportedly told CWA president Larry Cohen and thousands of union members listening on the call. (Click here to listen to the audio)
"I'm very excited to hear about the enthusiasm that's going on in Wisconsin and around the country," Solis said. "I am so inspired and proud of all of you, especially those who went down to Wisconsin and also around the country."
Washington Examiner's Byron York reports:
On more than one occasion, Solis referred to herself as part of the pro-union, anti-Walker cause. "I say let's keep fighting," Solis said, "let's stand up for all workers, and let's mobilize and do what we do best, and that is to make sure that the American public understands that union rights are no different from human rights." On another occasion, Solis said, "We are willing to meet those folks at the table," referring to Gov. Walker and the Republican legislative majority in Wisconsin.
At the end of Solis' remarks, Cohen, the CWA president, said, "I think all of us feel like those were historic words, for a member of the cabinet standing with us as clearly as you do, and, as you remind me, speaking for the president."
After a statement early in the Wisconsin standoff that Walker's proposed limits on collective bargaining represented "an assault on unions," President Obama has stayed largely quiet about the Wisconsin standoff, as have most administration officials.
As Labor Secretary, Solis' job is "to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States," according to the Department's website. The mission statement does not mention unions. "The Labor Department should not represent only that part of the workforce that is unionized," Elaine Chao, Labor Secretary under George W. Bush, told the Washington Examiner earlier this week. "It should be responsible for the overall welfare of the entire American workforce."
Last weekend, Solis also spoke at the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) winter meeting in Washington and praised "our brothers and sisters in public employee unions" who are "under assault" in Wisconsin and elsewhere.