By CARL GREEN
East Moline, IL – One of Illinois’ most respected Labor leaders, Jim Dixon of Springfield, says Nikki Budzinski gives Illinois residents a chance to elect a truly pro-Labor member of Congress.
“We’ve got a candidate this time like we haven’t had since I can remember,” Dixon told the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor in a rousing speech at its March 24 meeting. “We’ve got a candidate who is pro-Labor, and she’s got the background to prove it.”
Dixon, the former head of the Springfield and Central Illinois Trades & Labor Council, said Budzinski’s 13th Congressional District has 29,671 union families – enough to make the difference.
“This district, when we win it, could make the difference on the future of our country – whether we keep control of the House of Representatives or we don’t,” he said. “Brothers and sisters, we are vitally important to a win for Nikki. We’re the ones who can put her over the top.
“We’re the ones who could have somebody in Washington D.C. who understands what work really is, and who is going to stand up for us – and we haven’t had that in a long time.”
UNION BACKGROUND, POLITICAL KNOWHOW
Dixon said he has followed her career since she left home in Peoria to attend the University of Illinois and went to work for longtime Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, a popular Democrat. Then she left Illinois to work for the United Food and Commercial Workers and later the Fire Fighters Union in Washington D.C.
J.B. Pritzker’s campaign for governor brought her back to Illinois, where she took on a role that was dear to the hearts of Labor people, Dixon went on.
“She was the lead negotiator in the fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage in Illinois,” he said. “I sat in the House the day that passed, and the Republicans all stood up and from what they said, you would have thought the world was coming to an end!”
To Dixon, that successful fight showed Budzinski’s capabilities.
“To be able to negotiate with all of us from Labor – the working people – and with business at the same table, and put the two together, shows a real skill that I think we need in Washington today,” he said. “Nikki knows how to get people to the table and get something done.”
HELPED DELIVER BIDEN’S RESCUE PLAN
She returned to Washington to head up the Office of Management and Budget for President Biden and helped deliver his American Rescue Plan stimulus package, which includes money for improvements such as high-speed internet in rural areas, Dixon said.
“God knows, we had kids all over, especially in these rural areas, pulling up next to libraries and city halls, trying to get internet so they could do their homework on a computer,” he said.
“Some of the Rescue Plan is coming right here, like in Granite City, where it’s going to be used in flood mitigation,” he added. “Well, who’s going to do that work? It’s going to be our union brothers and sisters doing that work!”
Republicans, he predicted, will be throwing money into the campaign against her.
“We know the right-wing Republicans are going to come after her hot and heavy,” he said. “They’re going to try to tie her to Mike Madigan and Hillary Clinton, and anything else they can, because they don’t want a working-class, Labor-friendly person out there in Washington.”
‘SOMEBODY WHO CARES’
Dixon noted that the Republicans who have been representing the Metro-East in Congress lately have not been Labor supporters.
“Mike Bost (in the new 12th District) has never been that, and I come from Rodney Davis’ district, and he would sing a good song every once in a while, but he was never there for us. So we’ve got a chance to put somebody in who cares.”
Davis is opting to run in the GOP-heavy 15th District rather than take on Budzinski.
Dixon promised he would be helping the Budzinski campaign – and looking for help from the Metro-East.
“We’re going to be asking you to put up signs, to knock on doors, and talk to your brothers and sisters at work,” he said. “Tell them how it is to have somebody who understands what carrying a union card means.”
Dixon was vice president and then president of the Labor Council and now serves on it as an AFSCME representative. The council covers 10 counties in central Illinois.
via The Labor Tribune
April 19, 2022 at 05:05PM