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(PITTSBURGH) – The United Steelworkers today lauded the appointment of Nancy Lessin, a longtime activist on behalf of worker health and safety, to a seat on the 12-member federal Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee (WPAC). Lessin was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.
The panel, part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), was established to make recommendations to Labor Department officials on ways to improve OSHA’s administration of whistleblower protections under OSHA and 21 other federal statutes.
“Since 1979, when Nancy Lessin began working in the field of occupational safety and health, she has been assisting and educating workers regarding whistleblower rights, and advocating for strong enforcement of whistleblower statutes,” USW International President Leo W. Gerard wrote in nominating Lessin for the post.
“She will bring unique and valuable insights to this committee, and I can think of no better advocate to stand up for the rights of whistleblowers.”
The WPAC will include four members representing management, four members representing labor, one representing State Occupational Safety and Health Plans, and three experts representing the public. Non-voting members will include representatives from three other Federal Government agencies that have jurisdiction over statutes with whistleblower provisions. The members will serve two-year terms.
“Nobody should ever live in fear because they saw something wrong and spoke out to make it right,” Lessin said. “Meaningful whistleblower protections and strong enforcement of whistleblower provisions are vital to uphold safety in our workplaces, the health of our communities and the protection of the public.”
A former health-care worker, Lessin has worked with the USW-Mazzocchi Center, a joint effort of the USW, the Labor Institute and the Communications Workers of America, for six years. She previously served as a health and safety coordinator with the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, and with the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health.
The USW represents about 850,000 workers in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean in a wide variety of industries, ranging from glassmaking to mining, paper, steel, tire and rubber to the public sector, service and health care industries.
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