In recognition of retiring SCFL president, Jim Cavanaugh, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin reads the following remarks into the Congressional Record, the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress, February 16. Baldwin presented a commemoration plaque to Cavanaugh after reading her remarks at a party marking his 25 years of dedication to the Labor Movement.
Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the career and achievements of Mr. Jim Cavanaugh, President of the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL), as he retires from his esteemed position after 25 years of service.
For the past three decades, Jim Cavanaugh has guided the local progressive labor movement with an unwavering hand. Jim’s tenure is underscored with victories, such as the strike for sick pay against Aramark Laundry in 1999, and his place in labor’s history was solidified this month one year ago, when he worked tirelessly to help unite hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites in solidarity against the repeal of collective bargaining rights. His ability to rise above petty disputes and remain focused on the task at hand resulted in a tremendously successful career.
As President of SCFL, an organization for labor unions in Dane, Dodge, Sauk, Columbia, Jefferson and Iowa counties that represents over 100 labor organizations and more than 45,000 workers, Jim helped bring the struggles of Midwest workers to the forefront of political discussions. Jim recognized the importance of advocating on behalf of all workers and, in 2001, SCFL was recognized as one of the first fourteen central labor councils in the nation to fully achieve the goals of the AFL- CIO Union City program. As a member of the Union City program, SCFL advocates on behalf of both unionized and non-unionized workers to make our community one that provides a living wage and good benefits. Jim also helped expand the role of SCFL by forging new partnerships with existing labor groups like Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI) and reaching out to underserved counties.
Jim cherishes the value of education and understands the need for a highly educated workforce. To help bridge the gap between labor and education, Jim began a vital relationship with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Student Labor Action Coalition (SLAC). For fifteen years, Jim also served on Madison College’s (MATC) board in various capacities and was even nominated for the statewide Board Member of the Year award in 2008. Jim always recognized that a better educated workforce and community was directly correlated to a strong labor movement.
Furthermore, Jim worked to strengthen the local labor community by emphasizing the importance of building labor’s diversity. In 1999, Jim began outreach to a plethora of faith-based communities which eventually led to the creation of the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice (ICWJ). And as an early and staunch supporter of the immigrant worker movement, Jim successfully organized and fought back after two dozen Latino custodians were fired over questions related to their immigration status, helping to secure a significant settlement for the workers.
From advocating for an increased minimum wage to organizing and mobilizing union voters, it is nearly impossible to mention every- thing Jim has accomplished in the past 25 years; it is even harder to overstate the positive impact he has had on our community. It is without a doubt that Jim’s work has bettered the lives of countless workers in Wisconsin, the Midwest, and across our great nation. Today, we join together in solidarity to honor Mr. Jim Cavanaugh for his 25 years of fearless leadership of the South Central Federation of Labor. May Jim’s unwavering dedication, vision, and lifelong commitment to worker’s rights serve as an inspiration for all of us.