Obama Aide: No Middle Class Without Unions

Labor Secretary Solis says union jobs are needed.

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Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said that she benefited from having her parents work in labor unions and believes that Big Labor has helped to increase the number of Americans in the middle class.

[Check out how the AFL-CIO could threaten Obama's re-election.]

"Level the playing field, that's what unions did in my opinion. And they continue to strive to...level the playing field for everyone, for every group, and to me that's part of our American make up," she said.

Solis is one of the most pro-labor union secretaries ever to run Labor, helping President Obama overcome some differences with the movement as unemployment has increased and he's failed to satisfy unions with more stimulus spending. [Read: Seven Ways Obama Can Gain Credibility on Jobs.]

Talking with reporters last week, Solis was asked about the impact of unions losing half their membership since 1983, according to federal figures. She said that the drop in membership has had a direct impact on Americans in the middle class.

"There has been an erosion of people that have been able to stay in the middle class. The way I see it, you need to help to keep people in the middle class," said Solis.

  • Read about the 10 cities that have the most union members.
  • Read: Obama job plan--more of the same.
  • See Obama's inner circle.