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Giannoulias picks up Laborers’ Union support as ‘hands down the right candidate’ for Illinois secretary of state

The endorsement is likely to come with boots on the ground support, and the union’s deep pockets will mean money for ads for the June 2022 primary as well as the November election.

Democratic secretary of state candidate Alexi Giannoulias speaks to striking SEIU Local 73 Cook County workers rallying outside the Cook County Building at 118 N. Clark St. on Tuesday.
Democratic secretary of state candidate Alexi Giannoulias speaks to striking SEIU Local 73 Cook County workers rallying outside the Cook County Building at 118 N. Clark St. on Tuesday.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Democratic Illinois secretary of state candidate Alexi Giannoulias added another union to his growing list of supporters, garnering the endorsement of the Laborers’ International Union of North America a little less than a year before the June primary.

That endorsement spans the union’s 15 locals and nearly 23,000 members as part of the labor organization’s Cook County base as well as an additional 26 local chapters and 17,000 members downstate.

A spokeswoman for Giannoulias’ campaign said employees from 16 different unions, including the laborers, work in the secretary of state’s office.

Terry Healy, the vice president of the Laborers’ Union, said in a statement the organization is endorsing Giannoulias because he’s “hands down the right candidate and the Democrats’ best chance to retain Secretary Jesse White’s seat in 2022.”

John Penn, who also serves as a vice president of the union and as its Midwest regional manager, said in a statement the former Illinois treasurer “knows the issues facing working families and the importance of creating and protecting jobs as well as increasing wages, ensuring collective bargaining, and gaining access to affordable healthcare for our members.”

The endorsement is likely to come with boots on the ground support, and the union’s deep pockets will mean money for ads for the June 2022 primary as well as the November election.

U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who has endorsed Giannoulias, said the laborers’ endorsement “sets the stage in a major way for where labor is going to be” in the race to succeed outgoing White.

“The fact that you have the Teamsters, as well as the Laborers, signals that the possibility of getting some of the building trades to come on board is also within reach,” Garcia said.

“It certainly suggests a strong, strong likelihood, in my opinion — from what I’ve seen in past campaigns and elections — that the consensus is developing within the state AFL-CIO, and I think that other progressives and folks who thought it was too early, will be encouraged, and animated to come on board.”

Then mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia at an election night rally in 2015.
Then mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia at an election night rally in 2015.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

The congressman added the fundraising ability that comes with labor endorsements, especially the Laborers’ and the AFL-CIO, is also “very significant,” but getting support from unions in general is important because “labor in Illinois is still able to deliver in a forceful manner.”

In the mayoral race, the Laborers’ International Union pumped $350,000 from its Chicago Laborers’ District Council fund into Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s bid to succeed former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

When Mendoza failed to make it to the runoff, the union stocked then mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot’s campaign coffers with $500,000 ahead of her April win over Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Giannoulias said as the state works to rebuild post-pandemic, “It’s essential that labor has a seat at the table when decisions are made.”

Democratic secretary of state candidate Alexi Giannoulias speaks to striking SEIU Local 73 Cook County workers rallying outside the Cook County Building at 118 N. Clark St. on Tuesday.
Democratic secretary of state candidate Alexi Giannoulias speaks to striking SEIU Local 73 Cook County workers rallying outside the Cook County Building at 118 N. Clark St. on Tuesday.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file.

“I will always have labor’s back because workers deserve elected officials who are not afraid to fight for economic justice, no matter what challenges they face,” Giannoulias said in a statement. “I look forward to working together with a partner like LIUNA as Secretary of State, and I will continue to fight for the quality of life all Illinois workers deserve.”

The endorsement is the latest for Giannoulias, who has also received the support of the political arm of the Service Employees International Union, local chapters of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Teamsters Council Joint 25 among others.

The Service Employees International Union Illinois State Council includes SEIU Locals 1 and 73 and SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana. SEIU Local 1 and SEIU Healthcare have an ownership stake in the Chicago Sun-Times.

On Monday, Giannoulias also announced endorsements from elected officials including Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), state Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, state Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, Calumet City Mayor and state Rep. Thaddeus Jones as well as Rich Township Supervisor and Committeeperson Calvin Jordan among others.

Along with the backing of unions and other elected officials, Giannoulias also had a money advantage when his campaign issued its quarterly filing in April.

Ald. David Moore (17th), left, in June of 2020; Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), center, in 2019; City Clerk Anna M. Valencia, right, in 2018. 
Ald. David Moore (17th), left, in June of 2020; Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), center, in 2019; City Clerk Anna M. Valencia, right, in 2018.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia; Rich Hein/Sun-Times file

Since the end of March, when the former U.S. Senate candidate reported having a little over $2.1 million on hand, Giannoulias’ campaign has reported raising another $479,400.

Also running to succeed White are Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia and Alderpersons Pat Dowell (3rd) and David Moore (17th).