The Stand

PTE 17’s McGee retires; Nelson named Executive Director

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The following is from PTE Local 17:

SEATTLE (Feb. 28, 2017) — After 28 years at Professional & Technical Employees (PTE) Local 17, Joe McGee is retiring from his position of Executive Director — a title he’s held for the last 23 years.

As the son of a union organizer, McGee was born into the labor movement and spent his entire career fighting for workers’ rights starting at OPEIU 36 years ago. At Local 17, the organization has seen tremendous growth during McGee’s tenure, including gaining thousands of members in Washington, and expanding into Oregon with the addition of City of Portland professional employees.

“For me, this has been a dream job,” said McGee. “The work I’ve spent my life doing has been totally in sync with my philosophies and beliefs about economic and social justice. In fact, this job and I have been so in tune that it often hasn’t seemed like work. I’ve loved it and thrived on it. I have been privileged to work and succeed in a movement I care deeply about and to do that work with some of the finest and most honorable and dedicated people I have ever known.”

From combating external threats to public employees, to finding internal opportunities for strategic planning and growth, McGee has successfully faced many challenges. And for the last five years, he has been working with Deputy Executive Director Behnaz Nelson to ensure that a smooth succession took place as his impending retirement approached.

Nelson, who has been at PTE Local 17 for over a decade, was unanimously selected by a committee of Local 17 members in June 2016 to succeed McGee upon his retirement. During that process, she provided a creative vision for staffing and growth opportunities, and demonstrated a keen ability to anticipate and strategically address the challenges that Local 17 may face in the future.

“We are all lucky to have someone of Behnaz’s caliber who enthusiastically embraces her new job with the intent of working to make this great union even better,” said McGee.

Local 17 President Lois Watt also had positive things to say about Nelson: “I am confident that we will continue to be one of the leading labor organizations in the Pacific Northwest for many years to come under the leadership of Behnaz Nelson.”

While McGee’s retirement date is March 31, 2017, Nelson officially became Executive Director on Feb. 6, 2017. McGee continues to assist her in a consultative role. The union’s Executive Board also honored McGee with the lifetime title of Executive Director Emeritus.

PTE Local 17 members are a group of diverse, public sector, professional and technical employees in Washington and Oregon. Their jobs range from engineers and information technology experts, to environmental and health specialists.

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