Member courage honored by AFT

OSEA’s Work Shouldn’t Hurt campaign earned a national award from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) at the recent Paraprofessionals and School-Related Personnel convention in Detroit.

The Workers Memorial Day award recognizes AFT locals and affiliates such as OSEA for outstanding work to make life better for their members. OSEA’s Work Shouldn’t Hurt efforts encompassed many tasks — encouraging and empowering members to speak with candor about frequency and severity of injuries they suffer, communicating the root causes and ideas to address the problem, accompanied by innovative legislative and rulemaking proposals that have gained traction with state government.

OSEA Vice President Ma’Lena Wirth, second from left, accepted the Workers Memorial Day award. Pictured are, from left, AFT Secretary-Treasurer Loretta Johnson, PSRP Chair Ruby Newbold and AFT Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker.

“You had these different elements that were really trying to make a difference in people’s lives,” AFT PSRP Director Tom Moran said. “It was in part raising awareness, doing a survey to get a good picture of the issue, and then using that along with stories you’ve collected in an effort to get legislation passed.”

Moran said other AFT affiliates could take a page out of OSEA’s book “not just to raise awareness, but to turn that into a move to get legislation to actually fix the problem.”

OSEA President Tim Stoelb said our members’ courage to tell their stories was essential to initiating and maintaining the campaign.

“The central tenet to unionism is the willingness to stand together and demand what is right, especially when it’s not easy,” Stoelb said. “Uniting for better wages and working conditions honors those who came before us and has a lasting impact for the next generation.”

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