Perez’s potential impact on OSHA

March 20, 2013

A new secretary of labor has been nominated, but he comes with his share of controversy.

Thomas Perez has spent the past three years as President Barack Obama’s head civil rights attorney in the Department of Justice. Democrats and left-leaning organizations support the president’s pick. But Republican lawmakers have suggested they might block the nomination based on accusations of politically motivated decisions in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, which Perez headed.

Although it’s unclear exactly how long his nomination may play out, most of OSHA’s current work should continue unimpeded, as agency administrator David Michaels is sticking around for another term.

Perez’s background suggests that if he’s confirmed, his focus as secretary of labor would be on “vulnerable workers” – migrant workers, low-wage workers, etc. This has been an area OSHA began addressing more vigorously under former Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, so it will be interesting to see what role Perez may play in directing OSHA’s continued efforts regarding this matter.

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