Description: On November 15, 2017, the U.S. Senate confirmed, on a party-line vote, President Trump’s nominee David Zatezalo as the Department of Labor’s Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety. In this position, Zatezalo, who was previously a coal industry executive, will now head up the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Fair Economy Impact: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is charged with preventing deaths, illnesses, and injuries from mining operations and with promoting safe and healthy workplaces for U.S. miners. Zatezalo is the former chief executive of Rhino Resources, a coal mining company that has been repeatedly cited for safety violations by MSHA. Worker fatalities in mines are on the rise in 2017, so it is more important than ever for MSHA to enforce safety rules to ensure miners lives are not lost on the job. But Trump’s appointment of Zatezalo is another example of Trump putting a fox in charge of the hen house – it remains to be seen whether Zatezalo will side with companies that want to cut corners with their workers’ safety and well-being, or with the very mine workers whose lives depend on him.