Rely on Occupational Safety & Health ReporterSM for full news coverage and documentation of federal and state workplace safety and health programs, standards, legislation,...
By Stephen Lee
Nov. 3 — With less than a week before the presidential election, a consensus is forming that, should Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton win on Nov. 8, the AFL-CIO’s Peg Seminario will be the frontrunner to lead the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Both management and labor representatives contacted by Bloomberg BNA said a nomination of Seminario, arguably the nation’s most influential worker safety advocate, would send a clear sign to the labor community that the Clinton administration is taking their concerns seriously. Seminario is currently the safety and health director of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.
“If there’s a Democratic Senate, you’d have to think Peg would be a logical choice of a Democratic administration,” Dave Heidorn, manager of government affairs and policy at the American Society of Safety Engineers, told Bloomberg BNA. “The job would be a capstone on a distinguished career fighting for labor’s interest in safe workplaces.”
An OSHA chief of staff under President George W. Bush agreed, telling Bloomberg BNA that Seminario would be “the logical and credible first choice” for Clinton.
Seminario would almost certainly bring with her a muscular approach to enforcement and rulemaking, a prospect that excites labor advocates like Kathy Kirkland, executive director of the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics.
“I think at this point we probably need more of a rabble-rouser,” Kirkland told Bloomberg BNA. "[Current OSHA head] David Michaels set the stage, so now there’s all these rulemakings ready to go, but need to be pushed. And Peg might be the face of the people who could really push it.”
Seminario was eliminated from consideration in 2009, after being tapped as President Barack Obama’s first choice to lead the agency because she was deemed to have spent more than 20 percent of her time on work that qualified as lobbying.
But few sources consider that incident to be disqualifying now, unless Clinton decides to impose her own strictures on lobbying.
“The AFL-CIO is working hard to elect Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States,” Seminario told Bloomberg BNA when asked about her interest in the job. “We will focus on the transition and appointments in the next administration after the election.”
No clear frontrunner to lead OSHA has emerged in the event of Republican nominee Donald Trump winning the presidency. Given Trump’s oft-stated antipathy to regulation, however, the job would presumably be a low-profile, low-influence post.
Not everyone is convinced, however, that Seminario could be confirmed, even by a Democratic Senate.
Baruch Fellner, a management attorney with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, said he considers Seminario—as a standard-bearer for organized labor—to be too unpalatable for Senate Republicans in any confirmation fight.
“Clinton doesn’t need to nominate Peg in order to mollify the unions,” Fellner told Bloomberg BNA. “There are enough other people out there who have her expertise and share her views, and would be considerably more successful before the Senate.”
If Seminario isn’t Clinton’s nominee, Jordan Barab, OSHA’s current second in command, could be another pick to lead the agency, according to Heidorn.
“He and [OSHA chief] David Michaels have patiently waited out the political wars to accomplish a great deal from the worker perspective at OSHA in a relatively short time,” ASSE’s Heidorn said. “I can’t imagine that’s gone unnoticed.”
Alternatively, AOEC’s Kirkland surmised that Barab as deputy could play the role of helping Seminario navigate the federal bureaucracy, something she’s never done.
But Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, dismissed the guessing game as premature.
“I don’t think we know the name of the nominee at this point,” Freedman told Bloomberg BNA. “In previous administrations, the eventual Assistant Secretary was not someone who was being talked about before the election—both for Democrats and Republicans—so speculating at this point is likely a futile exercise.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Lee in Washington, D.C. at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)