In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump proposed $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending, and on Monday, he will unveil the details of the proposal. Investing in our infrastructure is a critical need for the United States. Working people have long advocated for more federal investment in infrastructure, as a way to maintain high safety standards, to create jobs and to boost the economy. In order to achieve these goals, any infrastructure plan must contain certain key components.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee:
The labor movement is ready to fight, here in Washington and across our great nation, to see a transformative, inclusive infrastructure program enacted. We need to bring 21st century technology and good jobs to our entire country—to places as diverse as West Baltimore and my rural hometown of Nemacolin, Pennsylvania. And once that investment is made, the labor movement stands ready with the most highly skilled and well-trained workforce to get the job done.
One trillion dollars in new infrastructure investment would make a big difference to working Americans and put our nation on the path to sustainable prosperity. How we invest matters, it must be real investment and create good jobs.
Let me be clear: If we want good jobs, we must have high labor standards and protections for the people who build, maintain and operate our infrastructure. That’s not all. We need to make sure public money is used to support American jobs, American resources and American products. Finally, it is imperative that we invest at the lowest cost of capital to the public—anything else simply sacrifices jobs to Wall Street.
At our convention last year, we passed a resolution on infrastructure, noting the key parts of any good infrastructure proposal. It should:
- Comprehensively invest in our nation's future, to not only fund existing needs and invest in new infrastructure.
- Lift up working people, grow the economy, create high-road jobs and provide increased opportunity for people of color and women.
- Show a commitment to long-term federal funding.
- Avoid irresponsible experiments that devolve federal responsibilities to cities and states.
- Reject misguided proposals to sell public assets to pay for infrastructure.
- Maintain longstanding federal policies that protect working people with high labor standards to ensure that infrastructure investments create good jobs.
- Support fundamental labor standards, including: Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wages, section 13(c) transit protections and applicable rail labor standards.
- Support collective bargaining agreements, and family-supporting wages and benefits, instead of gutting them with low-wage bids.
- Protect public-sector employees’ pay, rights and benefits, when special interests push privatization and contracting-out schemes.
- Advocate for public procurement strategies for goods and products that are inclusive, create opportunity for all Americans, strengthen and extend Buy American requirements, and help revive domestic manufacturing.
- Reward employers that pay family-sustaining wages, train employees, hire from disadvantaged communities, and help people of color and women secure good jobs.
- Reach into our communities—urban, suburban and rural—to help more Americans obtain workforce development opportunities that lead to middle-class careers, which our failure to invest has left out of reach for too many.
Working people will be watching Monday to see what Trump proposes, and we will judge any proposal on its merits. How will this plan create jobs and raise wages for working people? We want to know.