Speech | Infrastructure

Shuler: Everyone Should Have Clean Drinking Water

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler joined Vice President Kamala Harris, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy to announce the Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan. President Shuler delivered the following remarks as prepared:

Hello everyone. It’s so great to be here today with my partners, NABTU President Sean McGarvey, UA President Mark McManus, LiUNA President Terry O’Sullivan, Ironworkers President Eric Dean and AFSCME President Lee Saunders. And allies like Nsedu Witherspoon with the Children’s Environmental Health Network.

And we are so thrilled to welcome Vice President Harris, National climate advisor Gina McCarthy and EPA Administrator (Michael) Regan to the House of Labor.

This administration talks like it’s pro-union.

This administration acts like it’s pro-union.

Because this administration is the most worker, pro-union administration in U.S. history!

While others promised infrastructure, the Biden-Harris administration delivered.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is going to upgrade the systems that connect us and make America run.

It’s going to create jobs.

Good, union jobs.

And together, we will make sure our progress is equitable.

Nowhere in the United States should drinking from the tap be a health hazard.

But there is a long, terrible history of using lead pipes in low-income communities, and communities of color.

Being Black should not be a greater risk factor for lead poisoning in the United States.

But this is one of the literal toxic effects of systemic racism.

And we will leverage the full might of the labor movement, in collaboration with the EPA and the Department of Labor, to replace lead pipes all across this country.

American-made with high labor standards with PLAs and Davis Bacon protections.

Clean water for everyone is economic justice, racial justice, environmental justice.

Union members were the earliest and loudest voices about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Our unions have been on the front lines of the response.

And we are going to lead the transformation for clean drinking water for everyone now.

At every regional hub, union expertise, union skills, and union jobs will be there.

People who live in impacted communities will have a clear pathway to access opportunities for high-wage, union jobs through apprenticeships and apprenticeship readiness programs.

Growing good jobs locally is how we make sure these are long-term investments in communities that need it most.

Nothing is more life-changing than the power of a good, union job.

The labor movement, working with the most pro-union administration, will move our country forward.

This is about the future. A livable planet. Equity. Justice.

This is how we build back better—better than it is or ever was.

And we build back better with unions!

It is now my pleasure to introduce Laura Jackson, a Washington, DC resident who has been fighting to replace lead pipes here in the District for years—she can speak first-hand as to how important this initiative is.

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