Edmond M. (Eddie) Boggs, the controversial Virginia commissioner of labor and industry, announced yesterday he will retire April 30 after 28 years on the job.
In a letter to Gov. Mills E. Godwin, Boggs, 68, said he is retiring because of personal and family obligations and because he has passed the usual retirement age.
Labor leaders have accussed Boggs, a member of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, of sabotaging efforts to bring the state's job safety program up to U.S. standards.
Boggs staunchly defends his actions, which he maintains were undercut by federal bureaucrats.
Boggs also irritated some state legislators who contend that he had become ineffective.
The recent Kepone pollution incident in which 60 chemical workers in Hopewell, Va., were sickened by the toxic pesticide cast renewed attention on both Boggs and his 150-man department.
Many legislators partly blamed Boggs and the department for failing to discover the dangers of Kepone and protect the workers from its danger until after the Kepone manufacturing plant was closed by state health officials.
Boggs conceded to legislators last year that he cared little about cooperating with inspectors from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, who have stronger inspection rights than members of his own department.
In an interview he also indicated he strongly dislikes OSHA's policy of mandatory job safety citations.
Boggs was a construction worker, salesman, bottling company plant manager and union representative before he was appointed to the state job by Gov. William Tuck in 1949. He served under seven governors.
Godwin appointed Assistant Commissioner Robert F. Beard Jr. to be acting commissioner after Boggs retires.