Massive infrastructure investment imperative for economic recovery

Massive infrastructure investment imperative for economic recovery
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From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

Infrastructure projects across the country screeched to a halt as cities grappled with the economic fallout from Covid-19, a recent survey by the National League of Cities (NLC) revealed.

This sets cities even further back in their battles against dangerous crumbling roads, bridges, airports, water systems and other critical projects, and leaves scores of the 17 million workers in essential infrastructure jobs struggling to put food on the table.

Sixty-five percent of cities have delayed or canceled infrastructure projects due to budget cuts brought on by Covid-19, with 32 percent of cities furloughing or laying off essential employees, according to the NLC.

The USW has long called for federal, state and local governments to invest heavily in infrastructure which, when coupled with Buy American provisions, would create thousands of good, family-sustaining jobs.

Now, as the country struggles to rebound from the economic devastation left by Covid-19, the charge is clearer than ever: The United States can no longer afford to sleep on making critical structural improvements.

Despite repeated promises to prioritize infrastructure, the Trump administration continues to sit idly by as cities halt projects and lay off essential workers in droves.

Even the relief funds signed into law in March through the CARES Act left nearly 70 percent of cities, towns and villages without direct assistance, the NLC said.

As coronavirus cases increase and unemployment rates also remain high, it is clear that only a long-term infrastructure investment can put Americans back to work and protect citizens from future crises.

Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Freight can’t wait

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

A freight train hauling lumber and nylon manufacturing chemicals derailed, caught fire and caused a 108-year-old bridge to collapse in Tempe, Ariz., this week, in the second accident on the same bridge within a month.

The bridge was damaged after the first incident, according to Union Pacific railroad that owns the rail bridge, and re-opened two days later. 

The official cause of the derailments is still under investigation, but it remains clear that the failure to modernize and maintain America’s railroad infrastructure is dangerous. 

In 2019, 499 trains that derailed were found to have defective or broken track, roadbed or structures, according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s database of safety analysis.

While railroad workers’ unions have called for increased safety improvements, rail companies have also used technology and automation as an excuse to downsize their work forces.

For example, rail companies have implemented a cost-saving measure known as Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), which has resulted in mass layoffs and shoddy safety protocols. 

Though privately-owned railroads have spent significantly to upgrade large, Class I trains, regional Class II trains and local, short-line Class III trains that carry important goods for farmers and businesses still rely on state and local funds for improvements. 

But cash-strapped states struggle to adequately inspect new technologies and fund safety improvements, and repairing or replacing the aging track and rail bridges will require significant public investment.

A true infrastructure commitment will not only strengthen the country’s railroad networks and increase U.S. global economic competitiveness. It will also create millions of family-sustaining jobs needed to inspect, repair and manufacture new parts for mass transit systems, all while helping to prevent future disasters.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work