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Biden nominates Christopher Williamson to head MSHA

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Washington — President Joe Biden has nominated Christopher Williamson to lead the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

If confirmed, Williamson, senior counsel to National Labor Relations Board Chair Lauren McFerran, would take over for acting administrator Jeannette Galanis. Former coal industry executive David Zatezalo was the agency’s most recent Senate-confirmed leader, serving from November 2017 until this past January.

According to a Nov. 12 White House press release, Williamson, a native of West Virginia, worked at MSHA during the Obama administration, advising the assistant secretary on agency policy, operations and communications. He also served as labor counsel to former Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) and as a legislative assistant to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“As labor counsel, he advised Chairman Harkin and committee members on labor, occupational and mine safety and health, and black lung benefits and other workers’ compensation issues,” the release states.

 

Before that, Williamson was an attorney-advisor for Administrative Law Judge Jacqueline Bulluck at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. He earned his law degree from West Virginia University.

Williamson likely will appear before the Senate HELP Committee for a confirmation hearing. At press time, no date had been set.

In a statement released Nov. 12, United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts urges the Senate to confirm Williamson’s nomination as soon as possible.

“Chris Williamson is the most knowledgeable expert on mine safety and health in Washington today,” Roberts said. “His in-depth understanding of what it takes to keep miners safer and healthier at work is unmatched, and I expect that the Mine Safety and Health Administration will be a stronger advocate for miners under his watch.

“Chris comes from a mining background in West Virginia. Making sure that miners come home safely to their families each and every day is part of his very being.”

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