Infrastructure Week Has Become a Joke, and That’s a Big Mistake.

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

It’s Infrastructure Week. No, you guys, for reals though!

The concept of “Infrastructure Week” has become a bit of a joke here in the D.C. swamp, since it seems like every single time the White House intends to focus on infrastructure, there’s a big distraction.

But it actually is Infrastructure Week this time. Hundreds of organizations —big business groups like the Chamber of Commerce, labor leaders like the AFL-CIO, and even good old AAM — are taking part in the official advocacy effort to push for major investment in our nation’s roads, bridges, public transit, ports, railways, airports, pipelines, and more.

There’s even a hashtag: #TimetoBuild.

But sadly, the party was spoiled before it even began. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced last week there is not likely to be an infrastructure bill this year (something Senate Democrats had a bit of fun with):

In all seriousness, there’s a reason why the issue of infrastructure keeps coming up: America’s infrastructure is in bad shape. Like, we’re talking really bad.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gives our infrastructure a D+ grade. There are more than 56,000 bridges across the United States that are structurally deficient, an especially troubling stat considering there are 188 million trips across these bridges each day. U.S. airports are notoriously overcrowded and unable to keep up with demand; our public transit systems are plagued by overdue maintenance and underinvestment; and our water pipelines are so outdated that there are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks every year.

And don’t get us started on the mess that is our hazardous waste. It’s not comforting.

Everybody seems to understand that infrastructure is a big problem (there aren’t many issues that would bring the Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO together, after all).

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton even tried to outgun each other on how much money they would spend to repair infrastructure. After Trump took office, he repeatedly said infrastructure would be one of his top priorities.

Two years later, nothing has been done. It’s really a lost opportunity.

Making a major investment in infrastructure would provide a big boost to our economy and create jobs — especially if Buy America preferences are applied (another thing Trump pledged to do).

Duke University researchers estimated in a 2014 report that a long-term transportation bill worth $114 billion annually would create 2.5 million new jobs; each $1 billion in investment creates 21,000 new jobs. And every dollar invested would generate $3.5+ in return.

Inaction, meanwhile, has cost over 900,000 jobs and is creating a drag on the economy (aside from the obvious dangers that delaying repair presents).

And yet here we are. Another Infrastructure Week has been met with more distractions from the White House’s resident steak salesman (h/t Matt McMullan). Another Infrastructure Week will likely go by without any real progress made on infrastructure. Another lost opportunity to fix some real world problems, create millions of jobs and uplift the economy.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work