Who will be the next Secretary of Labor for Obama?

Yesterday, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis made the rather surprising (and somewhat late) announcement that she was resigning from the Obama administration.  Solis had been the first, and only, Hispanic woman in a top Cabinet post in the Obama administration.  She was also viewed as a friend to labor unions and organized labor.

Who will be the next Secretary of Labor for Obama?

President Obama hailed Solis, as “a tireless champion for working families” during “the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.” In a statement Wednesday, the president said that “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.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Solis “brought urgently needed change to the Department of Labor, putting the U.S. government firmly on the side of working families.”

From the AFL-CIO blog:

Under Secretary Solis, the Labor Department became a place of safety and support for workers. 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. We hope that her successor will continue to be a powerful voice both within the Obama administration and across the country for all of America’s workers.

President Obama will need to add another new person to his cabinet to lead the Labor department.   Speculation amongst wags and pundits has already started, including the suggestion from Twitter that the next DOL head will be Trumka himself.

Here are a few names that you may hear in the coming days as possible nominees for the next Secretary of Labor.

  1. Andy Stern  is the former head of the SEIU and Change to Win, and has been a trusted advisor to Obama for many years.
  2. Mary Kay Maxwell was previously rumored to be a serious candidate for Secretary of Labor for the Obama administration before the selection of Solis. She would have been the first openly lesbian cabinet secretary.  Naming her might help to defray recent criticism about the lack of diversity in new Cabinet appointments.
  3. Wilma Liebman is another possibility. Liebman is best known for serving as a Member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). She was designated Chair of the Board by President Obama on January 20, 2009, becoming only the second woman to lead the NLRB.
  4. Craig Becker is not a likely candidate, but would create histrionics throughout Washington if he were to be nominated.

Regardless of who President Obama ultimately selects the head of DOL, it is an absolute certainty that they will have a background that is rooted in the labor movement, and will be tasked  with managing the same issues and concerns that confronted Ms. Solis.

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Michael Vandervort

Mike Vandervort is Human resources strategist. HR consultant, writer and speaker. His specialties include Social Media, Employee Relations, HR, & Labor Relations. Connect with Michael.

Reader Interactions


  1. Craig Lowry says

    The Country would benefit having a proven leader like Tom Perez who is the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. Tom is not only a great guy but also a consumer advocate and civil rights lawyer, who served as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) . I observed first hand is ability to tacle major issues and effectively manage them to satisfactory outcomes for all stakeholders.


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