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Pa. Labor & Industry nominee: Wolf's big sop to Big Labor

| Saturday, July 29, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Jerry Oleksiak
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Jerry Oleksiak

It's hard to conceive of Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf handing Big Labor a bigger sop than his nomination of the Pennsylvania State Education Association's president as the next head of the state Department of Labor & Industry — which the state Senate must reject.

That's because it's just as hard to conceive of Jerry Oleksiak, 64, going from advocacy as head of Pennsylvania's largest teachers union to impartiality regarding organized-labor issues — or doing what's best for taxpayers and the public as a whole — as Labor & Industry secretary. Not with PSEA's contract demands routinely plundering taxpayers' wallets and, as the Commonwealth Foundation notes, the PSEA “spending nearly $42 million on political activity since 2007,” including more than $1 million given to Mr. Wolf since 2013.

Worse yet, Mr. Oleksiak embodies one of Pennsylvania's most repugnant teachers-union practices. Mr. Wolf touted “his 32 years in the classroom” but didn't mention what Commonwealth does: Since 2007, he “hasn't shown up for his job as a special education teacher in the Upper Merion Area School District. Instead, he's been a ghost teacher” doing full-time PSEA work “while calling himself a teacher, accruing seniority, and amassing public pension credit.”

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO congratulating Oleksiak on his nomination is another indication that he's the wrong pick for Labor & Industry secretary. The Senate must ensure that Wolf does not succeed in handing this union fox the keys to that department's henhouse.

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