Safety and Health Law in the Obama Administration - Coal Age

    31 August 2009

    While many Americans are expressing concerns over the economy and job losses, objecting to the costs and impacts of “cap and trade” and health care taxes, President Obama is filling key positions at the Department of Labor with vocal advocates of increased regulation and enforcement. In the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the president’s Department of Labor appointees will be put to the test of saving and creating jobs, while striving to achieve their long held regulatory goals.

    Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, a former labor advocate and Congresswoman from California, quickly announced that there is “a new cop in town.” Secretary Solis and the White House followed that announcement with the appointment of Joe Main, a career United Mine Workers official, to be the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Dr. David Michaels, a career academic, health regulation activist and Clinton Environmental Protection Agency appointee, was nominated to be Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Dr. Greg Wagner, the former head of the respiratory division of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in West Virginia, will reportedly be named Main’s deputy assistant secretaryat MSHA. Jordan Barab, appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of OSHA, was a key player on the Democratic Congressional staff on OSHA and MSHA legislation and regulation during his tenure on the House Education and Labor Committee staff. There is little doubt that the Democratic majority will confirm them. The philosophy and mission of President Obama’s DoL is quickly being defined by the public record of the appointees.

    Reprinted with permission from Coal Age.