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Name: Main, Joe
Current Position: Previous Assistant Secretary

A career union official and mine safety expert, Joseph A. (Joe) Main’s selection as Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health in the Department of Labor represents a dramatic turnaround for the leadership of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which favored the coal and other mining industries during the Bush administration, even after several high-profile mine disasters killed dozens of workers. Main was confirmed by the Senate on October 21, 2009.

Born in Waynesburg, PA, Main graduated from the National Mine Health and Safety Academy as part of his five-decade career in the mining industry. He began working in coal mines in 1967, and it wasn’t long before he became a union safety committeeman and served in various local union positions for the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).
In 1974, Main accepted a position as Special Assistant to the International President of the UMWA. Two years later he joined the union’s safety division, serving as a safety inspector, administrative assistant, and deputy director.
In 1982 he was appointed administrator of UMWA’s Health and Safety Department, where he would remain for the next 22 years and manage the international health and safety program and its staff.
After retiring from the UMWA, Main began working as a mine safety consultant. His recent work has focused on international mine safety, research and analysis projects on preventing mining accidents, and development of training programs and facilities to prepare miners and emergency responders for mine emergencies. 
Labor leaders were delighted by Main’s nomination to takeover the Mine Safety and Health Administration. “I don’t think Obama could have chosen anyone better for the job,” Tony Oppegard, a Lexington, KY, lawyer and mine-safety advocate, told McClatchy Newspapers. “Joe has done more for mine safety in the U.S. than anyone in the past 25 to 30 years.”
Oppegard added that Main’s nomination signaled a change of direction in terms of mine safety in this country. “It’s a 180 degree shift from the policies of the Bush administration and its favoring of coal industry executives.”
Not surprisingly, coal industry executives were not happy when they heard the news about Main. “It’s going to be frustrating having somebody with an agenda that is pro-union,” said Bill Caylor, president of the Kentucky Coal Association. “We’re not looking forward to it.”
Mine Safety Advocates Praise Obama's Choice to Lead Agency (by Halimah Abdullah, McClatchy Newspapers)
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