Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday nominated the head of the Pennsylvania State Education Association to be the next state Secretary of Labor and Industry.
The nomination of Jerry Oleksiak, a teacher from Eastern Pennsylvania who leads the PSEA’s 180,000 members, is subject to state Senate approval.
If approved, the president of the state’s largest professional organization will leave PSEA on Sept. 2 to replace Sec. Kathy Manderino. Wolf has appointed Manderino , a Mon Valley native and former state lawmaker, to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
The governor said Oleksiak’s career in the classroom and with the PSEA made him well-suited for the cabinet post.
“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,” 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.”
Oleksiak spent three decades in an classroom, primarily dedicated to educating special-needs students, before assuming leadership of the public education organization known for across the state for its political clout.
PSEA Vice President Dolores McCracken called Oleksiak an outstanding leader.
“Everything Jerry has done in his life has been centered around helping kids, protecting working people and fighting to make sure that everyone — regardless of where they live, what they do or what they look like — has a fair shake in life,” she said. “That’s why Jerry is so well-suited to serve as secretary of Labor and Industry.”
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 St. Joseph’s University.
Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.