By CARL GREEN
Wood River, IL – The Machinists International union gave a big push to Ray Lenzi’s bid for Congress last week by endorsing him and contributing $5,000 to his campaign for Illinois’ 12th Congressional District.
Lenzi, of Carbondale, won a closely fought battle in the primary over Joel Funk of St. Clair County and now faces the multiple-term incumbent and Trump ally Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro).
In a presentation at the Machinists’ hall in Wood River, Dave Weaver, directing business representative of Machinists District 9, said the difference between the candidates is clear and strong.
“I did some research on Ray to find out where he stands on different issues and was pleasantly surprised to see that he worked as a coal miner, belonged to the United Mine Workers and worked his way through college,” Weaver said.
“Even though he became a professor, and all that great stuff, our members are going to relate more to his work as a coal miner more than anything else.”
LENZI’S POSITIONS ON LABOR ISSUES
“As a former member of the United Mine Workers, I recognize the historic hostility of the Republican Party and big money to unions and their members,” Lenzi says on his campaign website (lenziforcongress.org).
“The current hostility of this administration through all levels of government has reached a fever pitch,” he said. “It is time to have a Congressional representative in the 12th District who stands strongly for working men and women and their families on the bread and butter issues. It is time we retire Mike Bost.”
On Labor issues, Lenzi supports:
- Raising the federal minimum wage to $ 15 per hour.
- Cardcheck (employee free choice) – “If a majority of workers (51 percent) sign union authorization cards, they should have their union as a bargaining agent,” Lenzi says. “The current process makes it too easy for employers to threaten workers and crush unions and hurt workers.”
- A big infrastructure bill, including a major buildout of renewable energy infrastructure. “All of these projects should be union jobs paying Davis-Bacon wages,” Lenzi says. “Bost voted for a huge tax cut for the rich rather than addressing the nation’s infrastructure.”
- Reforming the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) – “The NLRB is currently in the pocket of big business and the oligarchs,” Lenzi says. “[It’s] time to take back the NLRB for working families.
“The survival of Organized Labor is at stake in the next decade,” Lenzi says. “We must stand together and expand the Labor Movement to represent all workers to move together for economic and social justice. Labor must be at the vanguard of this movement.”
‘EVERYTHING WE’VE GOT’
This election is an opportunity to support a Congressional candidate who is also attuned to Labor positions, Weaver said.
“His stance on Labor issues is huge. He’s entrenched in it,” Weaver said. “That is really why we stand with him.”
Defeating an incumbent is a difficult, but not impossible task, particularly in this election cycle.
The 12th District has plenty of Democrats and consistently re-elected now-retired Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Belleville), who served in the House from 1988 to 2013. The last three Democratic candidates have lost to Bost, but Lenzi is trying to change the math this year.
“We hope he’s got a good shot at it,” Weaver said. “We’re going to give it everything we’ve got.”
Weaver was joined at the check presentation by District 9 President B. Dean Webb and Assistant Directing Business Representative Jason Tetidrick.
“We’re looking forward to working with him here in the next couple of months,” Webb said.
GROWING LABOR SUPPORT
Lenzi continued picking up support from Labor unions last week as Teamsters Joint Council 25 announced its support for him. The Council has more than 100,000 workers in Illinois and Indiana.
“Ray is a true friend of Organized Labor,” said Jason Ashmore of Teamsters Local 50, which covers the 12th Congressional District. “We’re proud to endorse his campaign and look forward to working with Ray to address issues important to our membership.”
Other Labor organizations endorsing Lenzi include the Illinois AFL-CIO, Illinois Federation of Teachers, United Steelworkers, AFSCME, IBEW and the Machinists.
“An endorsement from the Teamsters Union (and all the other Labor groups) is a signal to 12th District voters that our campaign is supporting working men and women,” Lenzi said. “They understand that we will be a partner in finding solutions to a lagging economy, the pandemic and other issues facing not only their membership, but indeed, the entire country.”
Progressive groups supporting him include Illinois/National Indivisible, Sierra Club, Mom’s Demand Action, Our Revolution, LEAP Forward and Sunrise Movement.
“We expect to announce additional endorsements in the coming days and weeks as we approach Election Day,” Lenzi said. “More and more people are deciding that it’s time to retire Mike Bost.”