Our nation has the ability to create a better, brighter and more prosperous future by investing much more in infrastructure. We can create millions of good jobs, increase long-term growth, become globally competitive, improve Americans’ quality of life and protect their health.
The American Society of Civil Engineers tells us that to bring our existing infrastructure up to acceptable standards, we need to invest $4.6 trillion over the next 10 years—yet our current funding is more than $2 trillion short of that figure. To be globally competitive, we also must invest upward of $2 trillion in the transportation, energy and communications technologies of the 21st century.
Everyone understands the severity of our investment deficit problem. The challenge is overcoming the lack of political will.
The labor movement expects Congress to work with the administration to achieve the promises President Trump made in 2016 for a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Yet we know that $1 trillion is not enough to fund existing needs, much less to invest in new infrastructure. The labor movement will fight for an infrastructure program that goes beyond this down payment and comprehensively invests in our nation’s future. On this issue, we demand political leadership from both parties. The AFL-CIO and its affiliates support a substantial, long-term infrastructure investment plan, one that lifts up working people, grows the economy, creates high-road jobs, and provides increased opportunity for people of color and women.
We know that the only way to advance a long-term infrastructure modernization plan is through a commitment to long-term federal funding.
We will not tolerate irresponsible experiments that devolve federal responsibilities for infrastructure to cities and states. This misguided idea will only result in reduced spending for desperately needed infrastructure upgrades and a gutting of federal standards designed to support middle-class jobs.
We also are concerned with proposals to sell public assets to pay for infrastructure. These proposals raise serious public interest concerns and are no substitute for the level of direct public investment needed to reverse decades of neglect.
We will demand that any infrastructure package maintain longstanding federal policies that protect working people with high labor standards to ensure that infrastructure investments create good jobs.
We support fundamental labor standards that should accompany all federally assisted projects: Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wages, section 13(c) transit protections and applicable rail labor standards. We will make sure that collective bargaining agreements, and family-supporting wages and benefits, are not gutted by low-wage bids, and we will protect public-sector employees’ pay, rights and benefits when special interests push privatization and contracting-out schemes.
We will 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. We should reward employers that pay family-sustaining wages, train employees, hire from disadvantaged communities, and help people of color and women secure good jobs.
We will 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.
We cannot and will not tolerate more inaction. The future prosperity of working families and our communities across America is at stake, as is our national commitment to the simple but powerful idea that when we invest in the nation’s infrastructure, our economy expands and working people thrive.