Tricia Smith, who served as OSEA’s government relations specialist for 20 years, has been a stalwart defender of working class people her entire professional life. As she enters retirement, the organizations and causes she has championed are showing their gratitude.
“Tricia has always been a tirelessly fierce and dedicated advocate for our members,” OSEA Executive Director Rick Shidaker said upon Smith’s retirement this spring. “Every day — whether representing us at the state Capitol or in coalition and committee meetings or issue-specific workgroups — she was focused on advancing the interests and needs of OSEA and our members.”
Northwest Workers’ Justice Project (NWJP), an organization Smith helped found in 2002, also showed its appreciation for her work by presenting her with its 2016 Tribune of Worker Justice award on June 3. NWJP supports the efforts of low-wage workers to protect their dignity and improve wages and working conditions.
Smith’s supervisor for 20 years, OSEA Director of Government Relations Ed Edwards, introduced her during the award ceremony. Edwards told the audience he had known Smith before she started work at OSEA, when he was its sole lobbyist and she was a state senator. He related a story in which legislation that was especially damaging to OSEA was winding its way through the Oregon Legislature, but was halted by an impassioned speech from Smith.
“She saved our union,” Edwards said. He added that, when Smith lost her reelection, he didn’t hesitate to hire her. He called it one of the best decisions he has made.
Upon receiving the award, Smith said she was overwhelmed by the love in the room, but felt undeserving of the praise.
“This award really should go to all of you and not me,” she said.