Illinois building trades leaders urged to get behind Democratic bills, support Nikki Budzinski for Congress

Illinois Correspondent

Collinsville, IL – Union leaders and members need to stay on top of the infrastructure legislation that has been passed in Washington and Springfield because they will bring in trillions of dollars for good union jobs, says Totsie Bailey, executive secretary-treasurer of the Southwest Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council.

The council’s December meeting was supposed to be a holiday party with a visit from Democratic Congressional candidate Nikki Budzinski, but she was called to Chicago to be interviewed for an AFL-CIO executive board endorsement.

“She looks like she’s going to be our candidate for Congress,” said Bailey, adding that she now plans to visit the council in January. Budzinski, a veteran Democratic Party staffer, is running in the new 13th Congressional District, which has a Democratic majority and no incumbent Republicans.

So Bailey took the opportunity to address the assembled union leaders.

“When Trump was in office, he did the $1.9 trillion tax cut for the rich,” he said. “We didn’t get squat out of that, but they just got richer. Biden’s $2 trillion for infrastructure, we’re going to get a lot of work out of this, but it could all go away real quick, too, if we don’t keep the House and the Senate in the next elections.”

Bailey noted that all 50 Senate Democrats voted for the infrastructure bill, but only19 Republicans.

“It just kills me that a union member would vote Republican for whatever reason, it just doesn’t make sense,” Bailey said. “It’s their pocketbook they need to be voting for!”

Bill Houlihan, a longtime aide to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and member of the Democratic State Central Committee said Budzinski is a strong candidate with a strong Democratic and union background, including having served as president of the college Democrats at University of Illinois, political director for UFCW and later the fire fighters, Labor liaison for the Pritzker administration  and lead negotiator on the $15 minimum wage legislation that’s pushing up Illinois wages.

“She’s an outstanding candidate and will really be a plus in Washington,” he said, noting her endorsement from the Illinois AFL-CIO and numerous union locals, including:

  • 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).
  • United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 881.
  • United Steelworkers (USW).

Houlihan, who well-known in the Metro-East, recently retired after working almost 30 years for Durbin and is running for re-election to the state committee in the new 13th Congressional District, which takes in the Metro-East, Springfield, Champaign-Urbana and Decatur to create a Democratic majority district.

“People who know me know I work hard, I’m a team player, I believe in the Labor Movement, and I know what the Labor Movement has meant to the Democratic Party and the Houlihan family,” he said.

Houlihan said he plans to work to promote the Illinois Workers’ Rights Amendment, which would outlaw so-called “right-to-work” in the state and is on the 2022 ballot.


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