Posts Tagged: Hilda Solis

Wage theft: the check is not in the mail

Crain’s Chicago Business has a comprehensive investigation of wage theft — employers who don’t pay their workers overtime or simply don’t pay them at all. (more…)

Hilda Solis, you’re our only hope

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis

An official with California’s state controller’s office is advising state workers to seek US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis’ help to foil a threat to cut state workers’ salaries all the way down to the federal minimum wage.

The threat comes from the administration of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is warning over 300,000 state workers that the vast majority of their pay may be temporarily withheld until a deal is signed closing the state’s $19 billion deficit. (more…)

PSA: Carl Fillichio on “The Best Gig You Can Have”

Part of Understanding Government’s new Public Service Announcement series featuring federal employees and profiles of what they do

By Norman Kelley

You would expect a certain amount of spin from an interview with a Labor Department public affairs official about his work. However, Carl Fillichio truly likes what he does, so his aim is true.

Preferring to call his recent installment at the U. S. Dept. of Labor a “second go at the rodeo,” Carl Fillichio, Senior Adviser to the Secretary of Labor for Public Affairs and Communications, is ebullient about his work and the mission of getting the department’s message out.

“The way I look at communications, it’s not just issuing press releases, or doing press conferences or doing a newsletter, it is events and speaking engagements, and all sorts of opportunities to get our message out. I have my finger in all that type of stuff.”

Previously a Clinton appointee who served under Labor secretaries Robert Reich and Alexis Hermann, Fillichio engages in the full panoply of media for the department. “It’s the best gig you can have, public service.” (more…)

Honesty about Jobs

Over the weekend, aside from the health care bill, the big topic was jobs: is the stimulus working, will it bring more jobs, and how will unemployment numbers affect the fate of the Obama administration?  The Washington Post‘s Alec MacGillis writes that “the White House thinks the stimulus is working, and it doesn’t want you on its payroll,” New Deal examples of direct employment by the federal government notwithstanding.  And Peter Goodman of the New York Times reports these words from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis about unemployment:

I don’t think it’s a matter of things going wrong . . . we’re making a tremendous turning point here.

I’ve heard of cheerleading for your administration, but since there is no way to predict when the jobs picture will actually improve, wouldn’t it make more sense for the secretary of labor to say something along the lines of “there are a lot of people hurting out there and we’re doing our best to boost job creation”?  Engagement with the problem and the people looking for work would be better than this kind of boosterism, which in the end only increases doubt and suspicion. -NH


The New York Times’ Peter Goodman looks at a new report from big league economists Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen that the U.S. and the world put too much emphasis on Gross Domestic Product to measure the economy. (French President Nicholas Sarkozy actually commissioned the report and says he wants to implement the findings.) Stiglitz and Sen conclude that governments should not focus on what the economy produces, but the well-being of people in terms of their income and also access to health care, clean air and education.

Goodman writes that the economists don’t propose alternative measurements to GDP. But superior, alternative measurements already exist: the unemployment rate, the structural unemployment rate, the poverty rate, median-income, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. And so forth — what is needed is not a neat, new way to measure the economy but policymakers who question when the economic establishment puts all their eggs in the GDP basket. When Ben Bernanke declares that “the recession is likely over” other officials in the Obama administration, like Labor Sec. Hilda Solis, should ask “the recession is likely over for whom?” It would also help if media like the NYT didn’t casually conflate GDP growth with economic progress.


The Wall Street Journal’s Melanie Trottman tells us that the Obama administration is trying to give the moribund Dept. of Labor some backbone. Labor Sec. Hilda Solis is making 670 hires to probe labor law violations, including 150 people for the Wage and Hour Division, which did a stunningly bad job preventing basic worker abuses in the Bush administration.

One change is that Obama and Solis are making political appointments with an actual labor background.  For example, Patricia Smith, the nominee for Labor Dept. counsel, is the current New York State Labor Department commissioner. The Bush administration would appoint anti-labor business figures to run the department (Why couldn’t these people got jobs at the Commerce Dept.?). Obama appears to believe in trying to once again actually enforce labor laws.-MB


Barack Obama has nominated David Michaels, a public health professor at George Washington and assistant secretary Energy Dept. in the Clinton administration Energy Dept., to head the Labor Dept’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration. According to Ames Alexander of the Charlotte Observer, Michaels has the strong endorsement of a coalition of unions and George Miller, the liberal chairman of the House Labor committee, for his work on protecting people from nuclear radiation while with the Clinton White House.

Michaels sounds very generally to be in the same mold of Labor Sec. Hilda Solis — a pro-labor figure interested in restoring workplace rights.OSHA was definitely ineffectual and possibly corrupt in the Bush administration, awarding a  cozy contract for a chemical company executive to serve as a consultant. The Michaels nomination suggests Obama is interested in putting some teeth back into OSHA. That the nomination comes more than six months into his presidency, though, might indicate he’s not that interested.-MB