03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Message of Linda Chavez-Thompson in Texas

The campaign theme of the Texas Democratic Party this election cycle is "Moving Texas Forward." And there is no better person to help the Democrats achieve that goal than longtime labor union leader Linda Chavez-Thompson, who announced her candidacy for Texas Lieutenant Governor yesterday.

I have known Linda for many years -- yet this represents only a fraction of the four decades she has devoted to the American labor movement. Having come from humble roots, she has emerged as a strong, authentic voice for employees across the many sectors of our economy and across lines of gender, race, and ethnicity.

This background makes her uniquely qualified to serve the people of Texas.

Linda will bring a much-needed message with her on the campaign trail. She speaks to issues on the minds of voters. The economy, jobs, education, and health care are core concerns for her, as are the rising costs of insurance and utilities, which she spoke about yesterday.

The current administration has mismanaged government and underrepresented the people. Linda can play a historic role in turning that around.

As a Latina, Linda serves as a voice not only for working men and women across the state, but also for the large and growing Latino population in Texas that is a part of the state's long history. As a labor leader she has not only stood as a role model for Latinas and other women of color, but for all the women who make up a huge, growing share of labor union membership.

I had the great honor of nominating Linda for her re-election to serve as AFL-CIO Executive Vice-President. In my speech from the floor of the convention I recall acknowledging her family's immigrant roots. I noted that Linda reminds us that all workers, including immigrants, are part of the backbone of the American labor movement and are vital to its ongoing mission. I told my colleagues that Linda had worked with her family in the cotton fields of Texas and used that experience to help drive herself up through the ranks of labor. She overcame discrimination and along the way proved that Latino immigrants are a building block for our nation's bright and prosperous future.

The challenges ahead are significant, but I think Texas is ready to hear the message of Linda Chavez-Thompson.