Bailey urges support of Pritzker, Biden initiatives
By CARL GREEN
Collinsville, IL – Signs of a return to normal were plentiful last week, especially when the government relaxed mask requirements on Friday. But also, on the day before, the Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council had its first meeting after a hiatus.
Its executive secretary-treasurer, Totsie Bailey, greeted most of the council members at the IBEW 309 hall. Most had their masks on and were carefully spaced throughout the room.
Bailey had a political message to offer, starting with a plea to support Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, stemming from Pritzker’s recent visit to Sparta to encourage union members to get vaccinated.
“I said, ‘I don’t even know why you do that job – it’s unrewarding and everything.’ But he just wanted me to tell all you guys ‘Thank you for your support’ after he had to come from Springfield down here – and drive by 3,000 ‘Pritzker sucks’ signs.
“It’s a shame,” Bailey added. “The guy’s working hard. He’s pro-Labor and pro-union. But the direction this GOP is going is crazy. I think there’s going to be a revolution or something. This is an insurrection nationwide. It’s terrible what’s going on in this country.”
THE PRO ACT
The battle over the PRO Act, Biden’s legislation to remove barriers to Labor organizing, shows how Republicans are in no way friends of Labor, Bailey said.
“It’s the best legislation for unions in over 50 years,” he said. “It gives people the right to organize, it gives them security from corporations and officers stopping them from organizing, whether they’re in our business or other unions’ business. It’s important to our country to have this strong legislation for Labor.”
But a tough fight remains to enact the bill.
“With this 50-50 Senate, unless we have all 50 Democratic senators on board, it’s not going to go anywhere,” Bailey said. “The House passed it 225-206 with just five Republicans voting with us. If our guys don’t understand it yet, these Republicans do not like us. They do not want us to exist. This proves that.”
Too many union members have been leaning Republican in recent elections, Bailey and the Council members agreed.
“We need to get our guys involved with these elections, and we need to get them to vote the right way,” he said. “We’ve got to do something to change their mindset.”
He added, “It’s embarrassing to go ask these Democratic officeholders for favors when they know 40 percent of our people voted against them.”
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and his supporters are playing politics with legislation the nation needs, Bailey said. And workers and their families will pay the price.
“They’re doing the same thing that they did to Barack Obama. Once he was elected, they said they weren’t going to do anything for him for four years until he was out of office. And they’re doing the same thing to Joe Biden,” Bailey said.
“We’ve got to do something to get our members on the right track.”