Gov. Tom Wolf announced his intention to nominate in December current Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Deputy Secretary for Safety and Labor-Management Relations Jennifer Berrier to serve as department secretary.
“Jennifer Berrier’s 15 years of experience and service with L&I provide her with a strong background that will allow her to move smoothly into the role of secretary during this crucial time,” said Wolf. “Her broad knowledge of L&I and her record of effective leadership gives me confidence in her ability to oversee an agency that provides critical services to millions of Pennsylvanians and will play a vital role as we rebuild our economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In her current role, Berrier oversees four bureaus that help vulnerable workers, certify the safety of buildings and other building components, ensure that individuals with disabilities who are unable to work receive Social Security benefits, and facilitate resolutions in labor mediations and arbitrations. Previously, she served as the Director for the Bureau of Occupational & Industrial Safety and prosecuted labor and employment law cases as legal counsel to the department. Berrier is a graduate of York College and earned her Juris Doctor from Widener University.
Berrier will assume the role of Acting Secretary when L&I Secretary W. Gerard “Jerry” Oleksiak retires on Friday, Dec. 4. Oleksiak has led L&I for over three years since Sept. 5, 2017.
“I have been deeply honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve as L&I secretary, and I will be forever grateful to Governor Wolf for affording me the chance to lead this agency,” said Oleksiak. “I am proud of the talent, resilience, commitment and hard work L&I staff have demonstrated since my arrival and am confident they will continue to respond effectively to serve the crucial needs of fellow Pennsylvanians under Jennifer’s leadership.”
“Jerry Oleksiak has been a tireless advocate for Pennsylvania workers everywhere. He fought for an increase to the minimum wage and oversaw the implementation of a new overtime rule that expanded overtime eligibility to 143,000 people and strengthened overtime protections for up to 251,000 more,” said Wolf. “His resolute and steady leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic was crucial to L&I paying out more than $30 billion in unemployment benefits to eligible Pennsylvanians since the beginning of mitigation efforts. His legacy of improving working conditions and supporting innovative workforce solutions will benefit Pennsylvania workers and Pennsylvania’s economy for many years to come.”