Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Oleksiak Talks PA’s Workforce Initiatives

DG5A7745Kicking off the final day of the 43rd PA AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention, Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak addressed the delegates about the future of Pennsylvania Labor. As the first Secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry elected from the Labor Movement, Oleksiak emphasized the criticality and importance the Labor movement plays for both businesses and workers’ lives.

Oleksiak, a special education teacher by trade, spent 32 years teaching special education, with 10 of those years as a leader in the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), where he served as President from 2015-2017. The Secretary garnered the enthusiasm and support of the convention with a call for a living wage for all of our workers across the State, something Pennsylvania has fallen behind on for 9 years to counterparts, such as Ohio, where the State government has raised the minimum wage to a more equitable rate.

Oleksiak concluded on updating on a critical piece of Pennsylvania Labor legislation: PA SMART. PA SMART is a program that aims to prepare the Pennsylvania workforce for the ever-changing economy by injecting $40 million into STEM education programs, $3 million for advanced technical training, and $7 for apprenticeship program growth. PA SMART is still in the budgetary battles in Harrisburg but will have a great boost for the future of Labor training and education programs. Secretary Oleksiak concluded his remarks with praise for the Labor movement and the hard work all delegates have put forth into the movement.