Charleston Gazette calls for modernizing whistleblower protections

In an editorial yesterday, the Charleston Gazette of West Virginia called on Congress to pass a law to modernize the legal protections for workplace health and safety whistleblowers. "Whistleblowers protect the health and safety of working Americans by exposing unsafe conditions," the editorial begins. It then recounts how the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that the Department of Labor’s whistleblower protection program could do a better job of protecting whistleblowers. One could also add the DOL’s Inspector General’s report. Recalling the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, and the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the editorial suggests, "If whistleblowers had been protected, those tragedies might have been prevented." It then quotes Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., as saying, "I will continue to work with my colleagues and the Secretary of Labor to modernize anti-retaliation protections as part of the Robert C. Byrd Miners Safety and Health Act." I remember attending a hearing on the Protecting America’s Workers Act (PAWA) that would modernize Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act).  If including PAWA in the Robert C. Byrd Miners Safety and Health Act will get it passed, I can be all for that. Rep. Miller introduced H.R.5663, the Robert C. Byrd Miners Safety and Health Act, last July. The House Judiciary Committee reported it out on July 29, 2010. As reported out, Section 701 of the bill contains a gold-standard of whistleblower protection to replace Section 11(c) of the old OSH Act.  Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia has introduced a companion bill, S. 3671.  It is still waiting for action by the Senate committee. "Passing stronger whistleblower protections would be a tribute to West Virginia’s late senator," the Charleston Gazette says.  I agree.

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