Stoelb wins highest honor from AFT-PSRP

OSEA President Tim Stoelb’s lifetime of public service was recognized last week with the Albert Shanker Pioneer Award, the highest honor bestowed by the American Federation of Teachers’ Paraprofessional and School-Related Personnel (AFT PSRP).

He was honored at AFT’s PSRP Conference in Detroit last week. Ruby Newbold, a vice president of AFT, traced Stoelb’s history of service back to his 21-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a chief petty officer.

“Many of us would be proud to point to one career of service,” Newbold said. “Our Pioneer has had two successful careers of service and has served his union, community and country for his entire adult life.” 

The Pioneer Award recipient is someone who has demonstrated leadership in the union, workplace and community; fought to win recognition for the important work of classified employees; and developed and implemented innovative programs to address PSRP issues and concerns.

“He has been lifting others up in their work, in our union and in every aspect of a life centered on others,” Newbold said.

Stoelb was unable to attend the award ceremony due to a family emergency, but later offered comments on the Pioneer Award.

“I’m very surprised and honored to receive this incredible recognition. I’ve always tried to represent the spirit and can-do attitude of OSEA members in every corner of this state. Our ranks are filled with hard-working and caring people who rarely receive the recognition they deserve, and so I’d like to dedicate this award to every single one of you.”

His union service began in the Umpqua Valley, where he is still employed as a computer technician at Roseburg School District. He stepped up as a building employee representative in Roseburg Chapter 21, then treasurer and ultimately chapter president. He went on to become Zone V director. He was elected OSEA president in 2012 and has since been reelected twice.

OSEA’s Work Shouldn’t Hurt campaign was a major reason for Stoelb’s selection, Newbold said.

“This campaign strategically connected member involvement, organizing, political action and state legislation to shine a light on this issue and make schools and colleges a safe place to work for OSEA members,” Newbold said. “It has become a model for other AFT affiliates dealing with this important issue.”

The man for whom the award is named, Albert Shanker, was president of AFT for more than 20 years before his death in 1997. A former New York City schoolteacher who was key in merging several smaller education unions into the powerful United Federation of Teachers, he’s been called “the greatest union organizer in the latter half of the 20th century.” 

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