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Return To Sender: The Wrong Nominee For Worker-Safety Agency

The Trump administration’s nominee to lead the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the wrong track record for the job.

OSHA has been leaderless since January, when the Obama administration’s former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor, Dr. David Michaels, stepped down.

Trump’s pick, Scott Mugno, is the vice president of safety, sustainability and vehicle maintenance for FedEx Ground. He serves as chairman of the anti-worker U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s OSHA Subcommittee.

The next head of OSHA will be tasked with ensuring the health and safety of America’s workers and protecting whistleblowers from retaliation under more than 20 federal statutes covering the environment, transportation, consumer and investor protections. The stakes are high for workers, consumers and businesses alike.

According to Business Insurance, during his remarks at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce discussion in 2006, Mugno exclaimed, “we’ve got to look harder at the employee” and address factors such as obesity that take place off the job. He then called to “free OSHA from its own statutory and regulatory handcuffs.”

More recently, as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce’s OSHA Subcommittee, the FedEx official already had a vision for his potential role. The Subcommittee’s May 2017 agenda closed with “Developing recommendations for new OSHA Assistant Secretary beyond just undoing various Obama administration actions and regulations.”

Mugno’s stance on laws and regulations do not mesh with leading an agency tasked with writing rules to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for employees. Instead of “looking” at the employee, Mugno must be listening to employees.

In a woefully underfunded and understaffed agency, whistleblowers serve as the lifeline to enforcement of the laws and regulations that OSHA is tasked with overseeing.

If Mugno proceeds to a confirmation hearing, the U.S. Senate has a duty to scrutinize his record and commitment to OSHA’s mandate – including implementation and expansion of rules such as reducing exposure to contaminants like silica and beryllium; support for the Whistleblower Protection Program; and advancing its pillars of training, outreach, education and assistance.

Workers deserve a leader who will put their needs before big business and not fold under industry pressure.

Mugno has not met that standard.

(Photo: Tomas Del Coro/Flickr)