Pence Pushes Infrastructure Public-Private Partnerships Amid Failure in Indiana

Donald Cohen

Donald Cohen Executive Director, In the Public Interest

On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence cancelled an interview with PBS out of the blue, provoking speculation. The growing controversy around former FBI director James Comey must’ve gotten to the man known for having a stone face.

But there may have been another reason.

On Monday, the state of Indiana announced it would take control of a troubled highway construction project, Interstate 69, between Bloomington and Martinsville. The contractor, the Spanish firm Insolux Corsan, is facing bankruptcy and had been missing deadlines for months.

Who brought Insolux Corsan to the state? Pence. As governor, he signed a 35-year public-private partnership with the firm in 2014 to finance, construct, and maintain a section of the highway. Pence said it would provide “better value for taxpayers” than if the state used the traditional — and cheaper — method of public financing. But with only half the project completed and taxpayers left cleaning up the mess, one wonders what he’d say now.

Monday also happened to be the kickoff of a weeklong rollout of the Trump administration’s infrastructure plan, which would rely heavily on public-private partnerships. On PBS, Pence was supposed to talk infrastructure — drawing attention to his failed project wouldn’t have been good for business.

 

The I-69 failure highlights the dangers of Trump’s plan. Rather than the $1 trillion the president promised on the campaign trail, the plan only commits $200 billion in direct federal spending, leaving cities and states desperate for funding and therefore more dependent on local taxes and the private sector to make up the difference.

Public-private partnerships are far more expensive than public financing and —without very strong protections — can hand control of infrastructure to private investors.

Trump’s plan wouldn’t rebuild America; it would encourage communities to make shortsighted deals with Wall Street and global corporations like Insolux Corsan.

Not only that, it would put a giant “for sale” sign on the country’s roads, bridges, water systems, and other infrastructure. Through a program based on a scheme pioneered in Australia — which crashed and burned — the federal government would pay a bonus to cities and states to outright sell public assets.

There’s no question we need to invest in rebuilding our infrastructure for the 21st century. But federal support should help cities and states maintain public control, avoid tolls and fees, create good jobs, and protect the environment.

Trump’s plan clearly helps someone else: Wall Street and global corporations.

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Reposted from The Huffington Post.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

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