For the eight long years of the Bush administration the government’s Mine, Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) was run by representatives of the people who own the mines. On a full time basis a man named Joe Main, as the Mine Workers’ health and safety chief, had to deal with a regulatory agency that didn’t care about the men and women he had to protect.

That has all changed now.

Joe Main got word this week from President Obama that he is the president’s pick for the job of director of the federal government’s Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The labor movement is both happy and relieved about his appointment because during the Bush years, under the auspices of a company-dominated MSHA, there were several fatal mine disasters.

Main is expected to be confirmed by the Senate.

He became an advocate for safety in the mines soon after he started working in them in 1967 in his role as a union safety committeeman.

He was promoted to the union’s safety division in 1976 and then rose to become the union’s Occupational Safety and Health Administrator, a post he held from 1982-2004.

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