Conference 2016 Closes with Honors

Animated Sketch of a man and unicornOSEA’s annual Conference banquet included kudos for longtime activists, swearing in elected union officials and heartfelt tributes to 2016 Employee of the Year Cheryl Radinovich.

Radinovich, an office manager at Burns High School and a member of Harney County Chapter 75, was described as the “go-to person if anyone has a need, questions or just wants advice” by Public Relations Committee Chair Melissa Siegel.

“She helps students and staff with compassion and partiality, always giving 110 percent of herself,” Siegel added. “But she never seeks praise — she does it because she is needed.”

“I’m sure you all work at least as hard as I do and deserve it more than I do,” Radinovich said in characteristically humble and brief remarks.

The Employee of the Year is selected in a blind judging process by past OSEA state presidents. Radinovich is the third Employee of the Year to come from our Harney County chapter.

One of those Employees of the Year, Zone VI Director Monica McCanna, praised Radinovich as a quiet leader who nevertheless speaks with authority and strength.

“She knows how to use her voice for the good of the students, for the good of the staff and for the good of our community,” McCanna said.

Two veteran government relations activists received the Member Advocate Award. Kathy Forbes was recognized for her extensive union service. Forbes represents Zone I on the OSEA Board of Directors and works in Tillamook Chapter 28.

Ed Edwards, OSEA’s director of government relations, credited Forbes as one of the faces of OSEA’s Work Shouldn’t Hurt campaign, and for her activism at the local, state and national levels.

Forbes was shocked by the honor.

“We’ve been talking about (assaults against school employees) for a very, very long time,” Forbes said. “I am blessed to finally feel like I’ve been heard and to know that the people I work with across the state are going through the same things I’m going through.”

Shortly after helping present the award to Forbes, Judy Kulluson of Roseburg Chapter 21 was surprised with her own Member Advocate Award.

Edwards described Kulluson as a persistent champion of workers’ rights.

“We really need to speak up for what we know at our schools,” Kulluson said. “Please try to influence other people in your buildings to step up. It’s really important.”

The President’s Award was presented to Janice Graves of Dallas Chapter 34. Graves was lauded for her longtime service as an OSEA leader. She has served as chapter president since 2004 and has been its government relations chair, grievance committee chair, negotiations team chair and a building employee representative.

She has maintained a chapter density level ranging from 97 percent to 99 percent and helped in-source food service jobs in her district. Formerly, the school system used a for-profit contractor.

“You guys are dear to my heart, you are my family and you are why I’m here,” Graves said.

Just before the conclusion of the banquet, Junior Past President Bonnie Luisi paid tribute to outgoing Retired

Oregon School Employees (ROSE) President Everice Moro — the lead plaintiff in Moro vs. State of Oregon, the lawsuit that ensured Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) retirees received every penny they were entitled to under their contract.

A local media outlet published a cartoon sardonically depicting Moro hugging a unicorn. Moro said she took the jab as an honor.