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Solis Formally Sworn in as Labor Secretary

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With high praise for her tenacity and skills as a leader, Vice President Joe Biden administered a ceremonial oath of office to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis on Friday.

Speaking to a crowded room of Department of Labor employees and guests, Biden told the assembled group that they now had a Secretary of Labor who understands their work.

"She knows that a job is more than about a paycheck," he said. "A job is about dignity. A job is about respect. Hilda understands that."

He added, "I don't think anybody in this room has any doubt, Hilda Solis will be heard."

Biden, tracing Solis' career from state representative to the U.S. House, said that when Solis took a stand on an issue, her colleagues could not help but take notice.

"Hilda Solis will demand to be heard," he said. "Ladies and gentlemen, why do I repeat that? We have not heard much from this department."

Biden also portrayed Solis as a fighter who nonetheless knows how to get things done.

She is "a politician who hasn't shied away from challenging the old boy network," he said. "She's proven time and again, when it comes to standing up for those who are in the workplace every day, for their health and safety, for their fair treatment … she has always been there to fight for them."

Solis said that she was "honored and humbled" by her selection to head the DOL.

"But most importantly, I'm energized," she said. "Today I'm more eager than ever to serve the American people and to lead the department."

Solis, who noted that her father was a union official, also thanked the representatives of labor unions who attended the ceremony.

"You are a very, very important part of what I will be doing in the next few years," she said.

Solis also thanked the department staff who were in the hall or watching her remarks broadcast in other offices.

"I appreciate the work that you do. I value the work that you do. And most of all, I respect the work that you do," she said.

As Labor Secretary, Solis said she would be committed to advancing job training programs and implementing President Barack Obama's vision of creating millions of green collar jobs in environmental fields and would work to support returning veterans as they transition into the private workforce.

"The Labor Department must ensure that American workers are paid what they deserve, are treated fairly [and] have safe and healthy workplaces," she said. "We will accomplish this through tough enforcement, cooperation and balance."

She added, "Let me be clear, there is a new sheriff in town."

The department will focus its efforts on strengthening "America's greatest resource, its human resources," Solis said.

"I'm excited to be a part of this historic team," she said. "Let's get to work."

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