As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, January 30, 2009

Support For Labor? Prove It.

This morning at the White House, President Obama not only named his Task Force on the Middle Class headed up by Joe Biden, but signed three executive orders protecting labor rights.

So I'm going to be signing three executive orders designed to ensure that federal contracts serve taxpayers efficiently and effectively. One of these orders is going to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to reimburse federal contractors who spend money trying to influence the formation of unions. We will also require that federal contractors inform their employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Federal labor laws encourage collective bargaining, and employees should know their rights to avoid disruption of federal contracts.

And I'm issuing an order so that qualified employees will be able to keep their jobs even when a contract changes hands. We shouldn't deprive the government of these workers who have so much experience in making government work.

Labor leaders were invited to the signing ceremony today, and approved of the executive orders.

Our economy has always depended on working families. In our current economic crisis, their recovery is our country’s recovery. Now is the time to ensure that every worker has a living wage, affordable health care, a secure retirement, and a safe workplace.

The Executive Orders President Obama signed today are important first steps. This administration recognizes the federal government's responsibility, as the nation's largest purchaser of goods and services, to set model employment standards for private sector workers – and for the federal workforce.

All good stuff. But one thing struck me. Later on in the event, Joe Biden talked about "restoring labor's place in the Department of Labor." Seems to me that would begin by getting your Labor Secretary confirmed instead of having the GOP block her confirmation.

President Obama's choice to head the Labor Department is trying to overcome resistance to her nomination from Republican senators, who contend she dodged important questions during her confirmation hearing.

Rep. Hilda L. Solis, a Democrat from El Monte, is one of several prominent Cabinet nominees still awaiting confirmation more than a week after the president took office [...]

Solis' nomination has been in limbo since Jan. 9, when she failed to impress Republican senators during a confirmation hearing before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass).

The committee has taken no action on her appointment and has none scheduled. In Solis' camp, frustration is mounting.

It looks like Mike Enzi, the ranking member on the committee, is driving this. They keep citing her "evasive answers" in hearings but that's a load of bull. Solis' record is crystal clear. Obama's people have no sense of urgency around this, which is weird. Major decisions are being made on the economy right now and the Labor Secretary is not in place. Seems to me that would be a good way to display support for organized labor.

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