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Name: Foulke, Edwin
Current Position: Previous Assistant Secretary
A native of Perkasie, PA, Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health from September 2005 until November 2008. Foulke graduated from North Carolina State University (with honors) in 1974. He earned his law degree from Loyola University in New Orleans in 1978 and a Master of Law degree from Georgetown University Law School in 1993.
From 1990 to 1995, Foulke served on the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, chairing the commission from March 1990 to February 1994. The three-member commission is an independent federal adjudicatory agency that renders decisions involving workplace safety and health citations arising from OSHA inspections.
Foulke served on the Workplace Health and Safety Committee for the Society for Human Resource Management from 2000 to 2004, including a two-year term as the committee’s chair. He was also a member of the Health and Safety Subcommittee for the US Chamber of Commerce.
Prior to taking over OSHA, Foulke was a partner with the law firm of Jackson Lewis, LLP in Greenville, SC, and Washington, DC, a firm that specializes in opposing union organizing, where he chaired the firm’s OSHA practice group. His practice areas included all topics of labor relations, specializing in occupational safety and health issues, workplace violence risk assessment and prevention, and accident and fatality prevention.
In 2000, Foulke contributed $1,000 to President George W. Bush’s presidential campaign as well as $1,000 to the Republican Party. He was formerly Republican Party state chairman in South Carolina and a leading fundraiser for the Republican Party.
Foulke incurred the wrath of labor leaders in 2006 following a speech that was construed as insulting by union officials. The speech was given at the American Society of Safety Engineers, which had conducted a safety-on-the-job poster contest for children. Foulke said he crafted his speech, “Adults Do the Darndest Things,” as an homage to Art Linklater. It included a series of pictures of workers performing dangerous tasks, including individuals covered in hazmat suits while an onlooker is wearing shorts and T-shirt - to which Folke quipped, “I hope he wore sunscreen.”
In a year that saw multiple mining accidents and at an explosion at a BP refinery in Ohio, the labor community interpreted the remarks as a slam at workers, blaming them for stupid mistakes on the job.
After resigning as the head of OSHA, Foulke joined the law firm of Fisher and Phillips in Atlanta.
OSHA Does The Darndest Things (by Cindy Skrzycki, Washington Post)
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