Build a Bright Future

From the AFL-CIO

This is Infrastructure Week, an annual event where an increasingly powerful coalition led by local, state and federal leaders, as well as both businesses and labor unions, demand massive and necessary investments to build America.

This year’s Infrastructure Week comes at a time when 80% of voters say investing in America’s infrastructure is a top priority. America’s labor movement says the time to build is now.

The time to invest heavily in America’s infrastructure is now: For $2 trillion, we can have safe drinking water and quality public schools, reliable transit systems and sturdy bridges.

71%: That’s how many transportation ballot measures have passed in the United States since 2000, proving the public’s desire for infrastructure investments in our shared future.

Infrastructure investments with ironclad “Buy America” provisions to build basic national assets, such as bridges, transit systems, airports and seaports, and public buildings, will spur manufacturing jobs in steel and other battered industries, creating millions of American jobs and lifting workers’ pay.

For another $2 trillion, we can make America the global leader in the technologies and infrastructure of the future, including high-speed rail, smart utilities and other innovations to improve lives and stave off climate change.

The ideas offered by President Donald Trump would slash the federal infrastructure commitment to projects from 80% to 20%, which simply passes the buck to our cash-strapped cities and states.

We need real federal dollars if we want to actually build and repair things and put people to work. Let’s do it.

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Posted In: From AFL-CIO, Union Matters

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder