Union Launches Massive Member-to-Member Outreach Campaign to Build Support for Job-Creating Highway Bill, Defeat House GOP Plan
This week, members of LIUNA - the Laborers' International Union of North America - began fighting job-killing cuts in transportation investment proposed by House Republican leaders while also pressuring lawmakers to pass a Senate proposal that will invest in America's roads and bridges and put men and women to work.
The kickoff of the union's massive member-to-member mobilization comes as LIUNA General President Terry O'Sullivan testifies Thursday before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the importance of investing in America's basic needs, the threat presented by the House Republican transportation proposal and the need to continue investment through a bipartisan plan being considered by the Senate committee.
The House GOP plan would reduce highway investment from $41 billion this year to $27 billion in fiscal 2012 - a 34 percent reduction that would destroy over 490,000 highway jobs. The Senate plan preserves and creates jobs by investing $51 billion per year for two years.
"This may be the summer of the blockbuster Harry Potter movie, but a magic wand won't prevent what for so many Americans, and for our nation, will be the real Deathly Hallows as more jobs disappear, more families suffer and the U.S. falls further behind," O'Sullivan said. "The House outline is a fundamentally different vision of America and a radical departure from our 235 years as a nation of innovation."
LIUNA members will spend the summer personally lobbying key members of Congress - particularly House Republicans in vulnerable districts - and urge them to maintain investment in the country's transportation system to create jobs, help the economy, ensure America's global competitiveness and leave behind real assets for taxpayers and future generations.
That effort began Wednesday as thousands of members from the union's New England, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions - comprised of 12 states and the District of Columbia - joined a call with O'Sullivan to learn more about the House GOP's backward proposal and why it must be stopped.
Joining the call were LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer and New England Regional Manager Armand Sabitoni, LIUNA Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager Ray Pacino and LIUNA Vice President and Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager Denny Martire.
Wednesday's call will be followed by two others that will expand the campaign across the country. Members on each call will reach out to fellow members over the phone, informing them about the threat presented by the House GOP plan and the need to pass the Senate's proposal.
Member action will also include calls and letters to lawmakers, letters to local newspapers, appearances at Congressional town halls during the August recess and visits to members of Congress in Washington and in district offices.
"We expect tens of thousands of members to volunteer to contact their member of Congress in the coming weeks," O'Sullivan said. "We will make sure their voices, their dreams and their hardships are heard loud and clear."
LIUNA's mobilization effort begins less than two weeks after House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., unveiled a proposal that locks in failure by starving America's roads and bridges of desperately needed investment for six years. The proposal guts investment by more than one-third, even though 66 million miles of roads are in poor condition and more than a quarter of bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
The House proposal puts America's economic competitiveness at risk. While nations such as China are investing over 10 percent of their gross domestic product -- $680 billion this year - in state-of-the-art transportation networks, America invests less than 3 percent in a system that has fallen far behind current needs and is not prepared for future demands.
"Like all Americans, we too are concerned about falling behind in the world," O'Sullivan said. "We're concerned that other nations are building super-highways and bullet trains while we're struggling to figure out how to patch potholes."
The House GOP plan also comes at a time when the construction industry cannot afford further job losses. Unemployment in the industry already sits at 15.6 percent, with 1.3 million unable to find work. The industry has lost over 2 million jobs since 2006.
The House Republican plan has been condemned by a variety of interests and organizations, including the Sierra Club, the Blue Green Alliance and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"One could argue that those who crafted the House proposal have found the will to justify billions of dollars in tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy, while cutting investment that all Americans depend on," O'Sullivan said. "We're frustrated at the inability of lawmakers to put one and one together and match those who desperately need work with the critical infrastructure needs of our nation."
The Senate proposal would preserve and create jobs by investing in roads and bridges for two years at current funding levels, providing some stability lacking in transportation investment since the previous surface transportation authorization lapsed in 2009. It would keep America from falling further behind and losing more jobs for two years, with the hope that an expected economy recovery will allow for further investment and job creation down the road.
"Senator Boxer's plan deserves praise for its political courage, sound reasoning and focus on maintaining a foundation for the future," O'Sullivan said. "It retains a foundation for America to move forward."
While LIUNA members will fight to see the Senate proposal become law, members will continue to press lawmakers to make a serious investment in the country's transportation needs, as well as water resources, schools and other basics, in order to maintain the country's greatness and ensure good jobs for decades to come.
"We can again be the nation that does big things, even in trying times," O'Sullivan said. "We can answer this calling from around the corner where our country's future awaits. We can fulfill our obligation to make sure what we do improves our nation and leaves our country better off than the way we found it. We can build America so America works."
The half-million members of LIUNA - the Laborers' International Union of North America - are on the forefront of the construction industry, a powerhouse of workers who are proud to build America.
SOURCE Laborers' International Union of North America