By TIM ROWDEN
Local Labor and political leaders gathered last week to urge Congress to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The bipartisan bill passed the U.S. Senate by a 69-30 vote on Aug. 10 – with Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt voting in favor of the bill – and is currently in the House of Representatives, where debate began Sept. 27. The day before the bill was sent to the House floor, local workers, Labor leaders and political officials joined forces at a press conference at the 270 North/Millstone Weber Project located at I-270 and Lindbergh in north St. Louis County to urge Congress to pass the $1.2 trillion bi-partisan infrastructure bill, which includes some $8.34 billion to upgrade infrastructure in Missouri.
- Missouri-Kansas Laborers District Council.
- St. Louis – Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council.
- Ironworkers Local 396.
- Operating Engineers Local 513.
- St. Louis County Executive Sam Page.
- St. Louis SITE Improvement Association.
- Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Missouri.
- State Senator Brian Williams.
- State Senator (and U.S. Senate candidate) Scott Sifton.
“Major investments in infrastructure are what drives our country’s economy and builds our working middle class,” said Brandon Flinn, business manager of the Missouri-Kansas Laborers District Council.
“The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is an unprecedented $1.2 trillion investment in our country,” Flinn said. “This bill will create thousands of good-paying union jobs across the state that will provide family-supporting wages.”
For Laborers union members alone, Flinn said the bipartisan infrastructure bill is estimated to increase working hours for the union’s membership by 30-40 percent over the next 10 years, and provide countless new tax dollars and investments that will support and attract businesses to local communities.
“Missouri’s infrastructure was given a C- grade by the American Society of Civil Engineers,” Flinn said. “We must improve our infrastructure in order to protect our communities. Our members are ready to do the work. We urge Congress to pass the bill.”
JOBS FOR GENERATIONS
“The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would provide quality jobs for generations to come,” expressed Associated General Contractors of Missouri President of Environmental Operations Eryn Bassett. “Our contractors work to improve our communities and are dedicated to skill, integrity and responsibility. This bill does just that.”
$8.34 BILLION IN INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADES FOR MISSSOURI
Missouri would receive a total of $8.34 billion in upgrades to its infrastructure including:
- $6.5 billion in much-needed federal aid for highway apportioned programs.
- $484 million to fix crumbling bridges with bridge replacement and repairs.
- $866 million in investment in water infrastructure.
“Our contractors strongly support this bill,” said St. Louis SITE Improvement Association Executive Director Jeremy Bennett. “This bill provides a positive economic impact for our state. The $8.34 billion in infrastructure upgrades will improve our infrastructure and our communities.”
2 MILLION JOBS PER YEAR
“The construction industry in Missouri is responsible for 3.4 percent of the state’s GDP. This investment would provide more jobs for local workers here in Missouri,” Ironworkers Local 396 Business Manager Mike Heibeck added after the event. “Ironworkers work on our crumbling bridges each day, and we know we must invest in them if we want to keep our communities safe.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will add, on average, around two million jobs per year over the course of a decade.
“Our state’s infrastructure is in dire need of improvements,” said Operating Engineers Local 513 President/Business Manager Tim Sappington. “Operating Engineers work on improving our roads, bridges, wastewater systems, and much more each day. We see the dire state that our infrastructure is in and we need Congress to pass this bill.”
“Union Labor has built St. Louis County,” said St. Louis County Executive Sam Page. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our future and create union jobs for our region. I am urging Congress to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill.”
“Every layer of our economy is lifted up and strengthened by investing in public infrastructure,” Sen. Brian Williams said. “The infrastructure bill before Congress is a historic investment in our future. Safe roads and bridges, good jobs for American workers, and growing our economy are not partisan issues. They are common goals across the political spectrum.”
DIRE NEED FOR INVESTMENT
Missouri’s infrastructure is in dire need of investment.
- More than 2,000 bridges in the state are considered structurally deficient.
- Congestion on Missouri’s highways costs nearly $870 million each year.
- Missouri is one of the states most reliant on a strong federal transportation program. Federal investment has supported 78 percent of state highway and bridge capital improvements and 73 percent of transportation outlays over the past decade.
The investment increases included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would be the largest since the construction of the interstate highway system in 1959, Sen. Scott Sifton said.
“Congress is on the verge of passing legislation to make generational investment in the nation’s infrastructure – enhancing quality of life, creating thousands of jobs and improving the economy for all Missourians.”