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Transportation Unions Roll Out Strategies to Move $1 Trillion Transportation Infrastructure Package

Labor Leader Release List Of Priorities For 2017 And Beyond 

San Antonio, TX – Transportation labor leaders laid out an aggressive strategy yesterday focused on shaping the President’s $1 trillion transportation infrastructure package and tackling unprecedented challenges faced by frontline transportation workers. Some of those challenges include the looming transportation automation wave, risks to jobs and safety, and reckless political forces taking aim at workers’ rights to bargain collectively for good wages and benefits.

“We committed to rally behind a $1 trillion infrastructure package that doesn’t rely mostly on tax incentives but instead includes an infusion of billions in new federal funding and embraces high labor standards,” said Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD). “We cannot toll our way to modernizing and expanding our transportation system and creating millions of new jobs.”

TTD hosted Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) for a discussion on the pressing issues affecting America’s transportation workers, including the need to advance a robust infrastructure package. Denham is a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

“Our nation’s transportation system, and the men and women who build, operate and maintain it, play a crucial role in keeping our economy strong,” Denham said. “I look forward to working with transportation labor leaders to advance strategic infrastructure investments that will rebuild our vast transportation network and, in the process, drive middle-class job creation in California and throughout the nation.” 

Transportation labor leaders laid out key issues for 2017 and beyond, including:

 Responding to the Wave of Transportation Automation

  • Automated technologies will drastically change the nature of work in transportation industries, will put millions of jobs at risk and pose new safety and security threats requiring rigorous federal regulations.

Views on President Trump’s Call for a $1 Trillion Infrastructure Investment Initiative

  • Any transportation infrastructure plan advanced by the President and Congress must include a significant infusion of new federal funds and embrace strong worker protections, labor standards and Buy America requirements.

Mobilization Against Job-Killing Right-to-Work Laws

  • Transportation labor will engage in an aggressive effort to stop national right-to-work legislation, which is part of an orchestrated, deliberate attempt by extremists to crush the wages and benefits of working Americans.

Protecting Airline Customer Service Agents from Assault

  • Too many airline customer service agents are verbally or physically assaulted on the job. Federal legislation must mitigate the problem by providing clear protocols for violent situations, preventing violent travelers from boarding planes and subjecting those who assault customer service agents to arrest and prosecution.

Strengthening Transportation Buy America Rules

  • Billions in new transportation investments must be used to not only grow the economy, but to maximize middle-class job creation through vigorous and strongly enforced Buy America policies.

Protecting and Expanding Middle Class Freight Rail Jobs

  • Transportation unions are committed to policies that strengthen and expand freight rail and will oppose reforms that would weaken the freight rail sector’s ability to expand business, invest in its network and workforce, and support middle-class job creation.

Supporting Cargo Preference Laws that Strengthen Our National Defense

  • The Trump Administration and Congress must uphold cargo preference laws that ensure a viable U.S. merchant marine, strengthen our national defense and support mariner jobs.

Protecting Official Time for Federal Employees

  • Transportation unions will mobilize against the Official Time Reform Act, which is a thinly veiled attack on public sector unions and federal employees.

The Executive Committee heard a presentation from Wytkind, who was appointed to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s federal advisory committee on transportation automation, on the safety and security challenges as well as massive job impacts from emerging automation technologies.

“Every sector of the transportation industry faces massive change and significant job loss from the development and deployment of automated technologies,” said Wytkind. “Our priority going forward is to ensure that these technologies are tools for frontline workers to enhance safety, security and service, rather than enablers of massive job and wage destruction.”

AFL-CIO Launches Online Ads Targeting Senators On A Variety Of Issues Including The TPP

Ads to Target Senate Candidates in Six States

To view ads click here: http://bit.ly/293dN2i

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(Washington, DC) – Today the AFL-CIO launched the first round of ads in six key battleground states: Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida and Wisconsin. The ads are uniquely targeted to reach working people and draw attention to Senate candidates whose policies are against the interests of working families.

“Working people will be a force in this election,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “These ads are just one of the many tools we will use to speak to our members and the community about what’s at stake. Our job is to educate working families on the candidates who aspire to lead America. We will stand together with politicians who share our values and oppose those who do not.”

The ads will run initially on Facebook and drive traffic to specific petitions on issues that matter to working people, including restoring the Voting Rights Act, comprehensive immigration reform, infrastructure investment and opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

America Deserves A-Plus Infrastructure, Not Near Failing Grades

‘Long-Term Infrastructure Investment Can Create the Family-Supporting Jobs Our Nation Needs’

(Terry O'Sullivan is the General President of the Laborers International Union of North America - LiUNA)

(Terry O’Sullivan is the General President of the Laborers International Union of North America – LiUNA)

Washington, D.C. (May 18, 2016) – America deserves an A-plus infrastructure, not one with near failing grades, LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan told a news media briefing today as part of Infrastructure Week.

O’Sullivan was speaking on behalf of the half-million working men and women of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – who predominantly work in the construction industry, building and maintaining the nation’s transportation, energy and water resources infrastructure.

“Investing what is needed in our infrastructure is crucial to our safety and economic competitiveness,” O’Sullivan said. “And, it goes beyond abstract policies: It’s about good-paying, family-supporting jobs that provide a ladder to the middle class and can’t be exported abroad.”

LIUNA is a long-time advocate for greater infrastructure investment. The union is a participant in Infrastructure Week, which brings together a diverse coalition of unions, employers, business associations, and non-profit research and advocacy groups.

While once No. 1 in the world in its infrastructure, the United States has fallen to No. 11, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

“For those of us in the Building Trades, investment in a strong, robust and expanded 21st century infrastructure is about leaving a legacy for future generations,” said O’Sullivan. “The alternative is allowing our infrastructure to crumble around us – strangling our economy, worsening our lives, and endangering us all.”

LIUNA has launched high-impact public outreach efforts in the past – including billboards warning motorists of deficient bridges, a 10-foot roll of duct-tape on a flatbed truck to highlight inaction on infrastructure and a school bus which traveled the country crushed by a fallen bridge prop.

“As the men and women who work every day to build America, we will continue to fight for Congress and all elected officials to invest until we have the first-class, A-plus infrastructure we so desperately need,” O’Sullivan said.

Our Failure To Invest In Infrastructure Is Actually Costing You Thousands

Crumbling Road

Just drive down the road and you will quickly realize that our roads and bridges are in dire need of repair. However roads and bridges are not the only part of our crumbling infrastructure that needs to be addressed before its too late. Our infrastructure includes water, wastewater, electricity, airports, inland waterways & ports, and rail.

Failure to act“Infrastructure is the backbone of the U.S. economy and a necessary input to every economic output. It is critical to every nation’s prosperity and the public’s health and welfare,” wrote the American Society of Civil Engineers in their new study, Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Future.

“Each Failure to Act study demonstrates that deteriorating infrastructure, long known to be a public safety issue, has a cascading impact on our nation’s economy, impacting business productivity, gross domestic product (GDP), employment, personal income, and international competitiveness,” ASCE added.

Failing to properly invest in maintaining and rebuilding our infrastructure is costing Americans thousands of dollars a year and it is about to get worse.

“From 2016 to 2025, each household will lose $3,400 each year in disposable income due to infrastructure deficiencies.” ASCE warned that if this infrastructure gap is not closed, by 2025, households would lose $5,100 annually and the economy could lose over $4 trillion in GDP.

ASCE 3400 lossIf we do not make the needed repairs today, they will ultimately cost us more in the future. It is the Republican led budget austerity that is leading us down this dangerous path. Since 2002, spending on roads and highways alone has fallen 23%. That is millions of dollars lost in our GDP and thousands of jobs lost, every year, by not investing in our future.

“America is currently spending more failing to act on our investment gap then we would to close it. Inefficient infrastructure is costing every household $9.30 a day. However, if every family instead invested an additional $3 a day per household, we could close the infrastructure investment gap in 10 years,” added ASCE.

“By increasing the investment by $144 billion a year for the next 10 years at the federal, state and local levels, we can upgrade our infrastructure, and protect our GDP, jobs, families’ disposable income and our nation’s competitiveness.”

America cannot wait any longer. The time is now.

Take action by sending a message to your elected leader.

Share this post with the hashtag, #InfrastructureMatters


Related reading: Business and Labor Agree: Let’s Fix our Crumbling Infrastructure Now

PA Public Utilities To Investigate CWA’s Claims Of Infrastructure Neglect By Verizon

In response to CWA petition on hazardous conditions across the state, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Announces Hearings into Verizon’s Systemic Neglect of Telephone Infrastructure

p 13 top left Chester Co Honeybrook Rte 10 & WoodlandVerizon’s Negligence Statewide Results in Broken Poles, Sagging Cables, Ungrounded Conduit, and Abandoned Equipment

PUC Has Received Thousands of Complaints of Inadequate Service; Customers Unable to Receive Medical Calls, Call 911 

WASHINGTON – The Communications Workers of America (CWA) commended the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission today for its decision to hold hearings into the unsafe conditions at Verizon locations throughout the state, following a CWA petition that detailed hundreds of dangerous locations across 13 counties.  The PUC announced last week that the case has been assigned to Administrative Law Judge Joel Cheskis who will preside over hearings examining Verizon’s maintenance practices and quality of service. 

Image courtesy of CWA

Image courtesy of CWA

CWA, which represents nearly 5,000 Verizon workers in the state, has examined Verizon’s equipment in areas of the state where the company has refused to build its new fiber network and only offers service through traditional copper wiring, which is often left in a state of virtual abandonment. At multiple locations across the state, CWA documented severe instances of poles designated for removal that were broken or unstable; portions of old poles suspended in the air; terminals and other equipment not attached to poles; cables hanging perilously close to the ground; plastic coverings and splice boxes placed over damaged cable and other equipment that pose a risk of insect and animal infestation, and other similar unsafe, service-impacting conditions. 

“Pennsylvania families are paying top dollar every month for reliable telephone service and safe neighborhoods and streets. They deserve better than Verizon’s reckless disregard for public safety and service,” said CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney. “CWA members across the state are climbing poles and fixing equipment every day to make sure that communities get the service they deserve and the service they pay for. Despite its billions of dollars in profits, Verizon knowingly is leaving its infrastructure in a state of disrepair, risking the safety of telephone workers and Pennsylvania residents.”

Since 2012, the PUC has received more than 6,000 complaints of inadequate service.  Because the PUC often transfers customers to Verizon before taking a complaint, the real number of complaints is likely even higher.  Many of these complaints document multiple days without service over several months, and have led to missed medical calls and an inability to call 911 in emergencies.

The union says that the dangerous conditions are due to Verizon’s systemic underinvestment in its traditional landline network.  CWA also asked the PUC to order Verizon to take immediate actions to correct these dangerous conditions throughout the Commonwealth, and to fine Verizon for what appear to be willful failures to safely maintain its equipment.  According to CWA’s petition, the PUC has the authority to fine Verizon up to $1,000 per day for each safety violation.

Hillary for America Releases Details of Clinton’s Plan To Create Jobs By Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure

Hillary for America released the details of Hillary Clinton’s five-year, $275 billion plan to create jobs and increase wages by investing in the modernization of our nation’s infrastructure. Clinton’s plan is a comprehensive proposal to invest in infrastructure across the board: in our transit systems, roads and bridges, ports and waterways, our electric grid and energy system, in railways and airports, and more. These investments will cut costs for families and businesses, boost wages, enhance our competitiveness, help combat climate change, and protect our communities. 

The release of Clinton’s infrastructure plan this week is the first phase of a month-long focus on jobs, with further announcements planned in the coming weeks on boosting federal investments in research and manufacturing.

“Our roads and bridges are potholed and crumbling. Families endure blackouts because our electric grid fails in extreme weather. Beneath our cities, our pipeline infrastructure – our water, our sewer, you name it – is up to a century or more old. Our airports are a mess. Our ports need improvement. Our rail systems do as well,” Hillary Clinton said. “I want to use every tool we can to invest in infrastructure and build a stronger, more prosperous future. We’ve got to do this now.” 

The major elements of Clinton’s infrastructure investment plan include:

  • Boosting direct federal infrastructure investment by $250 billion over the next five years. She will fully pay for these investments through business tax reform.
  • Creating a $25 billion national infrastructure bank—supporting up to an additional $225 billion in federally supported investment for energy, water, broadband, transportation, and multi-modal infrastructure projects to ensure America’s competitiveness in the 21st century. This means that, adding up the direct federal investment with the infrastructure bank financing, Clinton’s plan would support up to $500 billion in infrastructure projects across the country.
  • Reauthorizing a Build America Bonds program to help finance the rebuilding of America’s infrastructure. In just two years, the Obama Administration’s Build America Bonds (BABs) supported more than $180 billion in infrastructure spending in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Applying best practices to improve the way we invest in infrastructure. She would work to ensure that projects are selected on impact, not politics, streamline permitting, break down silos that limit funds to a single type of transportation, and encourage 21st century design and technology.

Clinton’s plan would create good-paying jobs today and lay the foundation for rising incomes in the future. According to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, every $1 billion in infrastructure investment creates 13,000 jobs. Other studies show that every dollar of infrastructure investment leads to an estimated $1.60 increase in GDP the following year and twice that over the subsequent 20 years. 

Other key impacts that would result from Clinton’s infrastructure investment plan include: 

  • Fixing and expanding our roads and bridges.
  • Connecting all households in America to high-speed Internet by 2020.
  • Expanding affordable public transportation options for low-income communities and communities of color.
  • Connecting businesses and farmers to their customers and suppliers with a national freight investment program.
  • Building a faster, safer and higher capacity passenger rail system.
  • Linking farms, businesses, and households to safe and reliable drinking water and wastewater systems.
  • Building and modernizing our energy infrastructure and capturing America’s clean energy potential.
  • Upgrading to next generation aviation technology and world-class American airports.
  • Modernizing our dams and levees.

A fact sheet detailing Clinton’s proposal is available here

Kuster Calls on House Colleagues to Pass Long-Term Extension of Highway Bill

July 06, 2015 |Kuster hears from local transportation planners about the importance of fully funding infrastructure projects

July 06, 2015 |Kuster hears from local transportation planners about the importance of fully funding infrastructure projects

Crucial infrastructure projects like the Route 4 Bridge could be threatened if Congress fails to pass a long-term highway bill 

West Lebanon, NH – This morning, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) visited the Route 4 Bridge construction site in order to highlight the importance of immediately passing a long-term surface transportation bill in Congress. Across New Hampshire and around the country, local projects like the Route 4 Bridge construction could be threatened if Congress fails to pass legislation to preserve federal transportation funding. 

In 2012, Congress passed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act to fund our country’s surface transportation network for two years, and it has since been extended one year beyond its original 2014 expiration. MAP-21 is set to expire at the end of July, which means funding for the federal Highway Trust Fund and projects around the country could run out of money right in the middle of summer, our country’s busiest construction season. During Monday’s tour, Kuster – along with state and city officials, business leaders, and project planners – called on her colleagues in Congress to immediately pass long-term legislation to prevent this funding shortfall, which not only threatens local construction projects, but also vital summer construction jobs that New Hampshire workers rely on.

“Throughout New Hampshire, construction workers are hard at work fixing our roads and bridges, and making improvements to our transportation infrastructure in order to improve safety and efficiency. We must ensure these projects can continue throughout the busy summer construction months and the rest of the year,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “We cannot put the safety of our drivers, or the livelihoods of our workers, in jeopardy because of partisan politics. I call on my colleagues to immediately bring a long-term bill to the floor, so we can ensure the funding for these projects does not run out.” 

The Route 4 Bridge project was first started in 2013. After completion, the new steel beam bridge will improve access between West Lebanon and Hartford, VT, and it will eliminate congestion and detours that have delayed traffic for years throughout the area. During the tour, project officials gave an update on the status of the Route 4 bridge project, and Kuster outlined her own efforts in Washington to encourage passage of a long-term bill.

Congresswoman Kuster has long advocated for increased federal investment in New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure.  She has proposed legislative solutions for increasing cost-savings at the federal level in order to replenish the Trust Fund in years past and she has toured the I-93 construction project in Windham, the Route 10 bridge replacement project in Winchester, and the Broad Street Parkway project in Nashua to highlight the urgent need to pass responsible, long-term funding legislation to support these projects.  Earlier this month, Kuster sent a letter to House Leadership urging them to bring a long-term surface transportation bill to the floor for immediate passage.

House Bill Provides Chance for Expanded, Long-term Highway/Transit Funding Legislation

Transportation Trade Department Logo

Washington, DC—Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement in advance of a House vote on a short-term extension of expiring highway and transit investment programs:

“Today we are urging a YES vote on H.R. 2353, a short-term extension of expiring highway/transit programs that will keep pressure on lawmakers and the President to complete a long-term bill this summer.

“It is a sad state when a two month legislative extension is a victory. But we called for this action. A short-term bill through July gives a chance to build momentum around a longer-term funding bill that gives states and businesses the certainty they need, boosts middle class job creation, and ends the mindless, short-sighted game of patchwork extensions.

“If lawmakers squander the chance this summer to craft a bipartisan, long-term bill that expands funding, the nation will be doomed to years of transportation decay and gridlock with no end in sight. And the voters will be left with no one to blame but the people they send to Washington.”

At Sewalls Falls Bridge, Senator Shaheen Calls For Long-Term Funding For NH Infrastructure Projects

By User: Magicpiano  CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

By User: Magicpiano CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

(CONCORD, N.H.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today visited Sewalls Falls Bridge in East Concord to discuss the need for long-term federal transportation funding to replace the aging bridge and other critical infrastructure projects across New Hampshire. Shaheen was joined by Concord Mayor Jim Bouley and other city officials.

“The problem is pretty simple: If there isn’t a real commitment to finance repairs of our roads and bridges, they don’t get fixed,” said Shaheen. “The Sewalls Falls Bridge is a critical project that’s been on-hold because of a shortfall in the National Highway Trust Fund. Leadership in Congress need to propose a long-term highway bill that allows for work on the Sewalls Falls bridge to finally get underway. I will continue to use every opportunity to urge Congress to pass a highway funding bill that makes the future investments needed to support public safety and commerce in our Granite State communities.”

Sewalls Falls Bridge, originally constructed in 1915, was closed in December after it was deemed unsafe for traffic. Prior to its closing the bridge’s weight limit had been downgraded to 3 tons, a move that lengthened emergency response times to certain areas of Concord. Senator Shaheen wrote to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requesting that it expedite approval of the project, which was subsequently granted. However, authorization for the Highway Trust Fund expires on May 31 and U.S. DOT projects the fund will become insolvent in late July, while Congressional leadership has not yet introduced a long-term highway authorization bill that would provide the stable federal funding so critical to this project and many others around New Hampshire. In recent years, Congress has resorted to passing short-term highway bills at the last minute which do not provide the guaranteed funding over many years that many projects need to begin construction work.  

New Hampshire has 775 bridges that are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 37% of state roads are rated as being in poor condition.

Coalition Builds Around Infrastructure Week May 11-15

Infrastructure Week 2015 to be Held May 11-15, 2015 With a Growing Coalition of More than 60 Organizations

Nearly 30 Events Planned in Washington, D.C. and Around the Country to Promote Investment in America’s Economy and Future

Washington, D.C.— April 22, 2015 – Today, the nation’s largest infrastructure and transportation groups announced that more than 60 national and regional infrastructure and transportation advocacy groups are set to participate inInfrastructure Week 2015, to be held the week of May 1115th, 2015.Infrastructure Week 2015 is a series of events in Washington, D.C. and around the country that will raise awareness of the lack of investment in America’s infrastructure – from surface and air transportation to broadband networks— which has left the United States less globally competitive and riddled with potholes, aging water pipes bursting once every two minutes, outdated transit and lengthening travel delays.

During Infrastructure Week, business executives, labor leaders, and elected officials from around America will make the case that America’s neglected infrastructure negatively impacts our lives and livelihoods, and that we must invest in our economic future through comprehensive investments in agile, efficient and secure infrastructure systems. See the most-updated list of events here:http://infrastructureweek.org/

Infrastructure Week is coordinated by America’s business, labor and policymaking leadership, and will convene an unprecedented non-partisan coalition united around the importance of investing in America’s infrastructure future. Infrastructure Week challenges policymakers and the public to directly address the needs facing America’s deteriorating infrastructure, and to move beyond short-term fixes and deferred maintenance, in order to envision innovative solutions, technologies, policies and investments that will bring America’s infrastructure and transportation systems into the 21stcentury and lay the groundwork for future generations. The organizations affiliated with Infrastructure Week envision a future in which America will have a more robust, opportunity-rich and competitive economy.

Infrastructure Week 2015 is led by a steering committee consisting of the AFL-CIO, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Building America’s Future, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, the Council on Competitiveness, the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In addition to these organizations, the steering committee is joined by nearly 60 national and local affiliate organizations from all sectors of the economy and communities, and from all corners of the United States. See the full list of affiliates here:http://infrastructureweek.org/affiliates/

“Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, it’s an American issue, and it’s one that we should all come together to support,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “With so many Americans ready to get back to work, the time is now to create good paying jobs and better roads, bridges, communications, and transit systems we can all be proud of.”

Find out more about Infrastructure Week – including our calendar of dozens of events in Washington, D.C and around America – atwww.infrastructureweek.org, and follow on Twitter at @RebuildRenewand#RebuildRenew.

Find us at http://infrastructureweek.org      /      Follow us on Twitter at @RebuildRenew

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