Madison County Federation of Labor names Machinists District 9 Organizing Coordinator Bob Beloit Labor Leader of the Year


BOB BELOIT (center) accepts the Labor Leader of the Year award from Roy Collins (left), and Madison County Federation of Labor President B. Dean Webb. – Labor Tribune photo

East Alton, IL – The Greater Madison County Federation of Labor put its Covid past behind it on Thursday, March 23, with its well-attended annual awards banquet. Machinists District 9 Organizing Coordinator Bob Beloit was named Labor Leader of the Year, and U.S. Rep. Nikki Budzinski was named the Friend of Labor.

The dinner’s host at Julia’s Banquet Center in East Alton was longtime Federation President B. Dean Webb, who encouraged everyone in attendance to support the Labor Tribune following its sale to a group of unions by longtime publisher Ed Finkelstein.

“We as Labor now own the Labor Tribune,” he said. “I think that’s a great thing. Please encourage your members and your locals to take out subscriptions, and please buy ads so we can keep this going. A lot of different unions and organizations put in money to purchase it, and it’s all getting paid back.”

MEMBERS OF THE SPRINKLER FITTERS LOCAL 268 softball team came to the awards dinner to claim their trophy from last fall’s Labor Day tournament. They had also won in the last previous tournament, two years earlier. B. Dean Webb, president of the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor (center) presents the trophy to (from left) Devin Walters, Cooper Terrell, (Webb), Rod Kezele and Rob Walters. – Labor Tribune photo

Webb also noted that the Federation’s Labor Day softball tournament made a successful return last fall after a two-year break because of COVID. It was won by the team from Sprinkler Fitters Local 268 in St. Louis – the same bunch who won it the last time it was held. The tournament also raised $1,000 for Labor causes.

The United Way sponsored two of the awards. Labor Liaison Nick Dodson, who also serves on the Federation board, said Labor’s partnership with the AFL-CIO goes back 80 years.

“We’re a force to be reckoned with when we all work together,” he said. “If any of your members ever fall into hardship and need assistance, please have them reach out to one of the liaisons. That’s what we’re here for.”

ANTONIO WELLMAKER, president of Steelworkers Local 1063, was awarded the Heart of the Community Award. – Labor Tribune photo

Dodson presented the Karen Brown Heart of the Community Award to Antonio Wellmaker, president of United Steelworkers Local 1063 who has worked for 29 years at Amsted Rail in Granite City and served his country for 21 years, five in active duty and 16 with the National Guard and Reserves.

“He has a long history of volunteering in the Tri-Cities area and is a volunteer for youth baseball,” Dodson said. “His dedicated support for the United Way is something for everybody to see.”

Wellmaker also helps with the Steelworkers’ toy drives every holiday season.

“I’m very appreciative, thankful and blessed to be receiving this award tonight,” he said. He thanked his wife and children and the members of Morningstar Missionary Baptist Church.

ANN BALLESTEROS accepts the Odell Fox Award from United Way Liaison Nick Dodson (left) and Federation President B. Dean Webb. – Labor Tribune photo

The second United Way award went to Ann Ballesteros, a Machinists Local 660 business representative. “It’s an honor to to accept the award,” she said. “Being a member of the Machinists Union has given me opportunities to help many people through the years. It’s truly a labor of love, not only for myself, but all the other Machinist business reps in District 9 to help out the United Way liaisons whenever we can.

“When any of us reach out with them to help our members, they are always standing up to do everything they can to assist in our times of need. From the bottom of my heart, I thank them for everything they do and have done for our members,” she added. “We’re a force to be reckoned with when we work together.”

JIM DIXON accepts the Friend of Labor award on behalf of Rep. Nikki Budzinski from Federation President B. Dean Webb. – Labor Tribune photo

First-term U.S. Rep. Nikki Budzinski received The Friend of Labor award. She was represented by her regional staff member, veteran Illinois Labor and political activist Jim Dixon, the former head of the Springfield and Central Illinois Trades and Labor Council.

“Wow, what a champion of Labor,” Dixon said. “She really wanted to come, but I told her, ‘You need to be in Washington doing what you need to be doing, and that’s fighting for the working families and unions in this country and this district.’”

Budzinski has also been working to build support for the Pro Act (Protecting the Right to Organize) and legislation to protect workers in trade agreements, he said.

Webb said of Budzinski. “She is truly the congressman for working people. She is a true champion for Labor, so I urge everybody to continue to support her.”

Bob Beloit, Machinist District 9 organizing coordinator, was presented the Labor Leader of the Year award by Machinists District Rep Roy Collins. A union member of Lodge 313 since 1990, he became organizer in 2018.

Collins said Beloit is known for standing up to companies and for running well-organized campaigns.

Beloit dedicated the award to Machinists District 9 members and Midwest Territory leaders. “Without that leadership to give us the resources and organizers we need, and who have the faith to let us go out and do our jobs, the things we do would not be possible.”

Webb noted that Beloit recently filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board over an anti-union lawyer secretly videotaping company meetings with union members and posting them online.

“This was a huge case nationwide. We’re proud of Bob for exposing it.”


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