Today’s New York Times is reporting that President-Elect Barack Obama will nominate California Representative Hilda Solis as his administration’s Secretary of Labor, the cabinet-level position that oversees the Department of Labor.
John Sweeney, head of the AFL-CIO (a coalition of labor unions) praised the appointment of Solis to the position. And not without good reason: Solis has been a champion of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which labor unions have made their #1 legislative priority for 2009. The EFCA would , among other things, require employers to recognize a union as the exclusive bargaining agent for its employees based solely on a "card check" process rather than a secret ballot election. If passed, it is expected to drastically increase union organizing and unionization rates.
Of course, if the unions are happy about the Solis pick, you can bet some employers are not. As reported in the Times, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a pro-employer group, expressed "disappointment" over the selection of a labor secretary that supports EFCA, but promised to work with Solis.
The selection of Solis should not come as a surprise: President-Elect Obama has voiced his support for EFCA and other pro-employee legislation, and was expected to select a like-minded labor secretary. This selection does not, however, mean that EFCA will pass without a fight. Don’t be surprised if the Republicans use their filibuster power either to delay its passage or to win some pro-employer concessions before allowing it to pass.