By Aaron Trippler
If you haven’t heard by now, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis has resigned. This wasn’t really a surprise—perhaps only the timing. Insiders stated a month or so ago that they’d heard that Secretary Solis wanted to stay perhaps one more year and then go back to California and perhaps run for the Los Angeles City Council. That raised the interesting question of whether or not the president would want someone to serve only one year in the second term, forcing him to appoint someone new for the remaining three years. Some say this may have forced the president to tell Solis he would prefer she leave now if she was going to leave down the road anyhow.
It's not clear who the White House will look at to replace Solis, but one possibility is Maria Echaveste, the former deputy chief of staff for former President Clinton. The appointment of AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker could also be considered as a nod to organized labor. Word is that the president is taking some heat for not appointing more women in the second term, so these names make sense.
What does this mean for occupational safety and health? It’s hard to tell at this point in time. Dr. David Michaels has publicly indicated his desire to stay on at OSHA. While this is probably a given, there is always the chance that a new Secretary of Labor will want to put their own appointment in the position at OSHA. My guess is that Dr. Michaels will be asked to stay on. If someone like Arlene Holt Baker is chosen, I think you would see OSHA given much more direction to increase enforcement efforts. Other than that, I don’t expect many things to change; besides, it may take several months before a new Secretary of Labor is confirmed.