Labor secretary resigns 'to begin a new future'
January 9th, 2013
04:22 PM ET
10 years ago

Labor secretary resigns 'to begin a new future'

Washington (CNN) - Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis resigned her post Wednesday, offering no specific reason but that she "enjoyed my first opportunity in years to reflect on the past and my future" over the holidays.

"Leaving the department is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, because I have taken our mission to heart," she wrote in a letter to colleagues obtained by CNN. "As the daughter of parents who worked in factories, paid their union dues and achieved their goal of a middle class life, and as the first Latina to head a major federal agency, it has been an incredible honor to serve."

Solis provided no date when she would step down, but Labor Department officials told CNN her departure is expected around the inauguration, which is later this month.

"Over her long career in public service – as an advocate for environmental justice in California, state legislator, member of Congress and Secretary of Labor – Hilda Solis has been a tireless champion for working families," President Barack Obama wrote in a statement. "Over the last four years, Secretary Solis has been a critical member of my economic team as we have worked to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and strengthen the economy for the middle class.

"Her efforts have helped train workers for the jobs of the future, protect workers' health and safety and put millions of Americans back to work. I am grateful to Secretary Solis for her steadfast commitment and service not only to the Administration, but on behalf of the American people. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors."

Her resignation comes amid other high-profile shifts at the top ranks of Obama's administration, including the upcoming resignations of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

She was one of four first term female cabinet secretaries. Solis' resignation just exasperates a diversity problem for the second term Obama cabinet. All four of the top cabinet jobs in the second term - State, Defense, Justice and Treasury - are expected to be occupied by males. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Wednesday "diversity is important" and said the administration is working to make sure it is diverse.

The administration is looking for a woman to serve as the next Commerce Secretary, two sources familiar with the nomination process told CNN. John Bryson resigned from the post in June, and the acting commerce secretary is Rebecca Blank.

A White House official said Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki are expected to stay in their current posts. The official did not give a timetable on how long the three might stay, but none of them is expected to depart in the near future.

Solis noted her accomplishments at the Labor Department in the letter, writing, "Growing up in a large Mexican-American family in La Puente, California, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to serve in a president's cabinet, let alone in the service of such an incredible leader."

"Because of our work, more people are receiving the wages they are owed," she wrote.

Solis also touted her work in relation to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Obama's health care law.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said after Solis' announcement that she "brought urgently needed change to the Department of Labor, putting the U.S. government firmly on the side of working families.

"Under Secretary Solis, the Labor Department became a place of safety and support for workers," he wrote. "Secretary Solis's Department of Labor talks tough and acts tough on enforcement, workplace safety, wage and hour violations and so many other vital services. Secretary Solis never lost sight of her own working-class roots, and she always put the values of working families at the center of everything she did."

Trumka urged the president to pick a successor who "will continue to be a powerful voice both within the Obama administration and across the country for all of America's workers."

Before joining the Obama administration in 2009, Solis was a congresswoman from California with a particular interest in environmental issues. She was the first Latina in the California State Senate, according to her official biography. She had also worked in the administration of President Jimmy Carter and in the federal Office of Management and Budget's Civil Rights Division.

Filed under: Hilda Solis
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. gavin

    I suspect she resigned because she was frustrated with the government's ineffectiveness in improving the jobs situation and the economy. I would hope the President selects someone with the credentials and experience who is highly qualified for the job rather than another political appointee. There are a number of highly qualified people in business and the labor community that can fill this position.

    January 9, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  2. bergus

    HA, HA, HA!!! even the secretary of labor is on unemployment. that's irony at it's best.

    January 9, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  3. Wallaceboy

    So what were the qualifications that got her the job? Latino, union connection, liberal, from California – woman. Does government ever find the person best qualified through education, training, experience and proven results to do these big jobs? Well look at our President and I guess you get the answer.

    January 9, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  4. Wilben Dahl

    I think we can expect a wholesale exodus from the Obama Camp. Although mid term changes are correctly noted, He does not have a future to offer them. No matter what the economy does in the next four years, Obama will allow the Leberals to continue their adventure. This can spell doom for the regime and the Democrate Party as well. Their future is dim.

    January 9, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  5. Ari for Peace

    Look! So easy, a Cave Man can do it!

    [Read the Facts and Answer the Question.]
    Fact 1: Group A is one side the country
    Fact 2: Group B is the other side of the country
    Fact 3: Group A decides to take all the money
    Fact 4: Group B has no more money

    Group B has no more money to buy Group A's products and services,

    What happens to Group A?
    A. They make more money because it really grows on trees
    B. A subgroup of Group A makes money off another subgroup of Group A
    C. Group A's inflow become blocked followed by sudden economic crash, suicide.
    D. Group A gives Group B some money so Group B can give it right back.

    What's your answer?

    January 9, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  6. Expat American

    Cant blame her for that........I'd rather work for an American.
    Whatever do you mean?
    President Obama was born in Hawaii and Secretary Solis was born in California.

    January 9, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  7. brown

    This chica was way over her head!

    January 10, 2013 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  8. joemurphydpo

    Why is diversity important? The most qualified person for each position should get the job. The times of our country's greatest prosperity were presided over by the least diverse president.

    January 10, 2013 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  9. Joel

    She was a horrible choice in the first place. Goodbye H1B lover.

    January 10, 2013 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Consult the binders of women!

    January 10, 2013 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  11. JB

    So looking solely at women is not sexist? If a candidate is decided best and is a woman then that's great. If not then why pick the woman? I would like to see Holder go, but unfortunately that seems like it's not going to happen. It's not like the other retiring members were that great anyway. Geithner didn't pay all of his taxes, and Panetta told congress to their face that Obama's administration would consider informing them if they decided to commit acts of war against Syria, which is illegal without imminent threat of attack or the approval of congress.

    January 10, 2013 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  12. Kenman

    "Her efforts have helped train workers for the jobs of the future, protect workers' health and safety and put millions of Americans back to work.

    What the what!?

    January 10, 2013 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  13. John

    She really didnt do anything noteworthy anyways. I am only making a 1/3rd of what I made before the economy crashed,I make barely enough money now to barely float my bills from month to month.

    January 10, 2013 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  14. Jerry

    One more Obamalooney "Bender Forward" down. A bunch more to go!

    January 10, 2013 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  15. mark

    Secretary Solis, a heroine and role model for our daughters <3

    January 10, 2013 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  16. Here we go again


    Never saw anything like it. EVERYBODY leaves Obama. Must be a horror to work for.

    Typical dumb Republican comment. It's call second term turnover. Happens with every administration.

    January 10, 2013 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  17. htos1

    Oh god,which state is about to be endowded with a new "governor".

    January 10, 2013 04:24 am at 4:24 am |
  18. Right to work in mD

    Good riddance, anyone who has the overwhelming support of Richard Trumka in a cabinet level post should be worried. This country conitnues to prevail with open shops, why did this statement even need ot be included "As the daughter of parents who worked in factories, paid their union dues and achieved their goal of a middle class life," just goes to show you another union thug who has promoted nothing and actually created a larger separation between safety and the workplace. Reduction in the OSHA VPP program, insistence on fines instead of education, triple indemintiy on wage and hours. Yes definitely focused on Trumkas policies, not the American publics. Please go back to CA and help Feinstein continue to draft her manifesto.

    January 10, 2013 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  19. John

    "...I've enjoyed my first opportunity in years to reflect on the past and my future"

    directly translates to

    " . . .I've been terminated for reasons which if made public would produce scandal"

    January 10, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  20. Jim

    Makes sense, his 2nd term will be run by the WS and Chicago puppet-masters anyway.

    January 10, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
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