Infrastructure Week 2017

By Sean McGarvey – President; NABTU

North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) wants results for American workers and American families. We want the world’s best physical and technological infrastructure. And we want strong community wage and benefit standards so that workers who are charged with building that infrastructure are able to enjoy a stable life in the American middle class.

Our members and our unions are dedicated to competitiveness, accountability, quality and value. We wear our priorities on our sleeves. We want the American public to see our value on display…every day.

That’s why we are loud proponents of heavy-duty investment in American infrastructure. We’re talking about new money, not tax credits for money that’s already being spent.

And when we say money, we mean it. Our nation needs investment on a scale involving trillions with a “T,” not mere millions or billions.

It’s like that old saying: If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

And it’s true. So-called deficit hawks claim it’s too costly for Congress to invest in infrastructure. The opposite is the case.

Massive infrastructure investments will create millions of good-paying jobs, spur investment in America’s domestic energy resources, and lay the groundwork for whole new generations of innovative private industries, not to mention the fact that it will give established industries a new edge against global competitors.

That’s why NABTU stands with America’s largest business groups and industries to demand action on infrastructure. America’s workers and business owners both share a desire for world-class infrastructure that’s safe and reliable and in every community across our great nation.

President Donald Trump has said he shares this interest, and his Administration is working on an infrastructure investment plan that could approach one trillion dollars.

Action is needed now, because the cost of investment could not be lower. The time is now for working people and our employers to get to work rebuilding everything: shipyards, water systems, highways, public schools, railways, air and seaports and so much more.

Our priorities are simple. They are common sense. America wants it. Business wants it. Workers want it.

Done right, a trillion dollars of truly new and additional infrastructure investment would create good jobs, revitalize communities and put us on the path to a prosperous future for our country.

First, our investment should be as transformative in the 21st century as railroads, highways, telephones, radio and television, and electrification were in the past, and it can be. We should think big.

Second, the investment should be made through federal spending and credit support.  This way, America will get the best bang for our buck by creating the most jobs and the most demand for American goods and services.

That brings us to the third priority. All infrastructure projects receiving federal money, loan support or innovative financing mechanisms must have high-road labor standards. That means they must pay the prevailing wage and include adequate resources for apprenticeship training. Every project should help more people – especially long neglected communities such as women, veterans and people of color – acquire the skills and expertise for a rewarding career in the building trades.

This is a formula that holds the key to creating family-sustaining jobs that are the key to the economic future of our country.

Every politician in Washington I believe understands one simple truth after the last election. Congress has a powerful mandate from the American people to fund public infrastructure and ensure that jobs and wage gains materialize for blue-collar working Americans.

Infrastructure investments are essential. Business and labor stand together. Public and private partnerships are ready to go. The list of projects is long, and everyone, from the engineers and designers to America’s skilled craft building trades professionals, are ready to go.

And North America’s Building Trades Unions are ready, with a safe, highly trained and productive workforce coupled with the most admired and successful apprenticeship training and education infrastructure found anywhere in the world.

In short, we are ready, willing and able to get the job done.

Previous generations built an infrastructure and transportation system that was the best in the world, one that made us an economic superpower and helped to create a strong middle class. Unfortunately, it’s a system we have been coasting on. The ride is now over, and we must repair and rebuild.

We need to be the America that can, not the America that can’t. We are eager to work with elected leaders of both parties to make this investment a reality.