Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–Sept. 1, 2011. As millions of Americans remain jobless and the nation’s economy continues to stumble this Labor Day, LIUNA is urging Congress to do the one thing that can begin to put the country back on track: pass Highway Bill legislation with level investment.
Congress will face competing visions when it returns from its recess. A Republican House Highway Bill proposal would cost at least 630,000 jobs and undermine transportation investment at a time when the American Society of Civil Engineers already gives the country’s transportation systems a D grade.
A bi-partisan Senate proposal would keep investment level, would be paid from existing revenues, give the construction industry the stability it needs to maintain employment and equip states with the ability to slow further deterioration of roads, bridges and transit systems.
LIUNA members have been engaged in an aggressive mobilization effort around the Highway Bill. About 25,000 members joined conference calls on the issue in July and August. Nearly 5,000 of those volunteered to reach out to fellow members and as Labor Day approaches, they have made tens of thousands of calls, and helped 6,100 members “patch-through” to their member of Congress and urge a level-investment Highway Bill.
The lobbying effort will continue through September as Congress considers an extension of current transportation legislation and takes up a new Highway Bill.
In addition, LIUNA commended President Obama on his emphasis on jobs creation. “More than 1 million unemployed men and women in construction are looking forward to the President’s jobs proposal just after Labor Day,” LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan said.
The debate over transportation investment comes at a critical time for construction workers in America. The industry’s unemployment rate is 13.6 percent and 1.1 million construction workers cannot find a job. Statistics indicate that many more workers have simply given up hope and have abandoned finding a job in the industry.
While Highway Bill legislation is crucial to the construction industry, it will help all workers and their families. Construction paychecks quickly circulate through local economies, helping to spur growth. Every $1 invested in transportation infrastructure returns $1.80 in economic growth, according to economic analysts. Meanwhile, every investment delayed puts taxpayers on the hook for future costs due to further deterioration and escalating costs, and weakens the U.S. ability to compete globally.
“A good Highway Bill is a jobs bill. It’s a growth bill. It’s what America and its working men and women need,” O’Sullivan said. “As the debate intensifies on Capitol Hill, LIUNA’s half-million members are going to keep focusing on Congress.”
The first fight in the highway bill debate is expected to be over an extension of existing legislation. The previous extension will expire on Sept. 30 and if Congress does not act, the Highway Trust Fund, America’s transportation system and millions of workers could face disaster.
“Congress needs to quickly pass an extension at existing levels and then get to work on a long-term bill. We cannot repeat the FAA and debt ceiling debacles or play hostage politics as our bridges and the families of the men and women who build them crumble,” O’Sullivan said. “We want Congress to put one and one together: there are millions who desperately need work and there is work in America that desperately needs to be done.”