By CARL GREEN
Springfield, IL – The Illinois AFL-CIO has endorsed Nikki Budzinski for Congress in the new 13th District, to represent most of the Metro-East area and much of central Illinois.
Budzinski, a Peoria native who now lives in Springfield, is a veteran Democratic Party and union staff worker. The district takes in a long sliver of central Illinois, including major cities such as Springfield, Champaign-Urbana and Decatur, in addition to Edwardsville, Alton, East St. Louis and Belleville in the Metro-East.
The AFL-CIO Executive Board voted Dec. 9 to support Budzinski.
“She has devoted her professional life to fighting for working families and the middle class. Her grandfather was a union painter and her grandmother was a public school teacher,” said Tim Drea, president of the Illinois AL-CIO.
“Budzinski promises to put working families first in Congress through a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, a federal tax credit for families with children and stronger health care, prescription drug and job training programs,” he added.
The AFL-CIO noted that Budzinski previously interned for former U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt, former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon and also for Planned Parenthood. Her positions have included:
- International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) political representative.
- United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) associate director for legislative and UFCW senior adviser on Labor issues.
- Labor liaison for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration and lead negotiator on the state’s $15 minimum wage legislation
- Chief of Staff for President Joe Biden’s budget office.
Said Drea: “She has lined up an impressive list of endorsements for the 13th District seat in short order, from unions representing electrical and communications workers, transit workers and fire fighters to Sen. Dick Durbin and a number of Illinois federal and state elected officials.”
OTHER LABOR ENDORSEMENTS
Budzinski also has been endorsed by:
- Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).
- Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois.
- Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 8.
- Communications Workers of America (CWA).
- Heat and Frost Insulators.
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Locals 51, 146, 193, 309, 601 and 649.
- Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT).
- Sheet Metal Air Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART).
- UFCW Local 881.
- United Steelworkers (USW).
Labor supporters attending the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor Christmas party Dec. 16 in East Alton were delighted to hear that the AFL-CIO had given her its backing.
Pam Monetti, a representative for American Income Life and the Democratic Party Chair of Macoupin County, said she spoke with Budzinski the night before the holiday party.
“What I think is great about her is her Labor ties and her experience working with the Biden administration,” Monetti said. “She’s been out there, she’s well-spoken, and now she’s reaching out to everybody. With Rodney Davis out of there, I think we’ll be able to get that seat.”
Monetti, a member of the Office Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 277, said her union will be holding a fundraiser for Budzinski next month in Macoupin County.
‘SHE KNOWS THE STRUGGLES’
Jonathon Forbes, a Labor-supporting attorney with the Gori Law Firm in Edwardsville, was equally enthusiastic.
“What I like about Nikki Budzinski, more than anything else, is the fact that with a lot of people today, if you mention the word ‘link’ they think you mean a golf course, but she understands real people. She understands real poverty.
“Personally, I’m tired of politicians who say they’re liberal or conservative or whatever and live in these nice areas and have no idea what working families and the poor are going through. To her, poor isn’t a dirty, four-letter word, and she knows the struggles poor people are having in this country right now. That’s why I like Nikki Budzinski.”