Southwestern Illinois Building Trades endorse Budzinski for Congress


Illinois Correspondent

NIKKI BUDZINSKI, candidate for Congress in Illinois’ 13th District, tells the Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council about her efforts on behalf of working people. – Labor Tribune photo

Collinsville, IL – Congressional candidate Nikki Budzinski has put together an impressive list of endorsements from Labor groups and Labor supporters in the newly formed 13th Congressional District. Last week, she added the prestigious Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council to that group.

The council voted unanimously to endorse her after the Springfield resident requested the group’s support in a speech that emphasized her accomplishments on behalf of working people in a series of important political positions.

“It would mean a lot to me to have your support,” she told the council. “I know that your members are the ones who put the boots on the ground and get the vote out. That’s what we need to do in order to win. My campaign is all about working people. That’s because I spent my entire career working on issues that support working people.”

She noted that she has been a member and national political director for the United Food and Commercial Workers.

“I’m sure many of you know that union fought on behalf of raising wages for low-wage workers and for providing paid sick leave,” she said. “I was on the front line in states like Indiana, Missouri and Michigan when we saw those states go “right-to-work.”

“I know what it means when you’re working in a state and an environment that is not pro-union, and what the union difference really means.”

She said it was refreshing to her to return to Illinois, with its good Labor standards, and join the Pritzker administration.

“One of the first things we did was when Gov. Pritzker reinstated Project Labor Agreements,” she said. “I was a senior adviser in his campaign and I went into the administration and ran his transition team, and I’m very proud of that.”

She joined in the search that found Mike Kleinik to become to Illinois Secretary of Labor.

“For the first time in over four years, prevailing wage was again enforced, because of Gov. Pritzker and those we put in who had good Labor backgrounds,” she said.

Her turn came on the push for a $15 minimum wage in Illinois. She was lead negotiator on that effort, which will raise the wage in steps until it reaches $15. She said that is the victory she is most proud of.

She was also part of the group that initiated Climate Jobs Illinois, a coalition that has worked to protect union jobs and wages, including those at Illinois’ nuclear plants.

“That coalition fought on behalf of the working people,” she said. “If we’re going to be transitioning to a new green economy – whatever that looks like – it needs to put working people first. So those jobs are going to be protected with prevailing wage and Project Labor Agreements.”

At the beginning of Joe Biden’s administration, she was chief of staff for the Office of Management and Budget and used the opportunity to serve working people in other ways.

“I saw the importance of the American Rescue Plan, which as you know provided the child tax credit for people. This was the first thing we’d done in decades to address child poverty in this country,” she said.

When funding for health care workers and schools to reopen was needed, every Republican in Congress voted against it. That underscored the need for strong Democrats in Congress, she said.

“I just think working people can do a lot better, and so I decided to take on this race,” she said, noting she has already been supported by the IBEW, Insulators, Carpenters, Boilermakers and Laborers.

“I’m really excited to have a broad coalition of unions,” she said. “I was the first candidate to be endorsed this cycle by the Illinois AFL-CIO. I truly believe that’s because I am union, a Labor person. And I’m going to be woking on these issues in Congress. So I’m incredibly honored to have that support.”

So far, no Republican has stepped up to run in the district, which has been competitive in the last several elections.

“I do expect to have one – I don’t think I’ll get that lucky,” she said. “I do think we’re running a great campaign on working people’s issues. I’ve raised almost $1 million since I got in.”

Other Democrats have stepped for her including the Madison County Democratic Party, state Reps. Jay Hoffman, Katie Stuart, Tanya Greenwood and Sen. Christopher Belt, all from the Metro-East.

“I’m really honored to have a lot of friends in this area who have endorsed my campaign,” she said. “I’m really working hard to build a broad coalition of support to finally flip this seat from red to blue.”

The Trades Council was meeting, as usual, at IBEW Local 309 in Collinsville. Tim Evans, the 309 business manager, led the council in taking a quick, unanimous vote to make the endorsement.


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