Gov. Tom Wolf Friday announced he will nominate Jerry Oleksiak, a special education teacher and the president of the 180,000 member Pennsylvania State Education Association, to serve as Secretary of Labor and Industry.
“Throughout his 32 years in the classroom and as a voice for hundreds of thousands of workers across Pennsylvania, Jerry has been dedicated to improving education and training, and the support of family-sustaining jobs,” Gov. Wolf said. “I am confident that Jerry can lead the Department of Labor and Industry to build on our improving business climate to encourage companies to locate and expand in Pennsylvania and to provide apprenticeships and other job training programs so workers have the skills to succeed in the 21st century economy."
In his three decades in the classroom, primarily in the Upper Merion Area School District, Oleksiak dedicated his career to educating students with special needs. As a local and region PSEA leader, he worked to ensure that the educators he represented were paid fairly.
And, as a PSEA state officer for ten years, he led efforts to fund Pennsylvania schools, reform standardized testing, and advocate for working people in all walks of life.
“I thank the governor for the opportunity to join his administration,” Oleksiak said. “I have always fought for working families and I see this as a great opportunity to help create good-paying, family-sustaining jobs across our state.
"No matter where you live or what you do for a living, Governor Wolf and I want to make sure that all Pennsylvanians have jobs that can open doors for a better future for their families," Oleksiak said. "That makes sense for our state's economy, the businesses that create jobs, and the men and women who make our state work."
Throughout his career, Oleksiak has collaborated with employers, employees, and community groups in order to create partnerships that benefit all stakeholders.
He used that experience to lead the 180,000 member PSEA, the largest professional association in Pennsylvania. Before becoming president in 2015, he served as PSEA vice president, treasurer, and as a member of the board of directors.
Oleksiak received his Master’s degree in Education as well as a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a teaching certificate in social studies from Saint Joseph’s University.
Secretary Kathy Manderino is leaving the Department of Labor and Industry to join the PA Gaming Control Board.