Terry O’Sullivan, general president of LIUNA, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, testified about the need for strong federal leadership to address our nation’s basic needs for good roads, safe bridges, clean drinking water, and safe and efficient airports before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
LIUNA is one of the nation’s largest unions of construction workers; members build highways, bridges, pipelines, sewer systems and transit systems. LIUNA has long been a vocal voice for infrastructure investment including long-standing partnerships with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Transportation Mobility, Building America’s Future and other allies.
“Taking care of the basics of America is a core function and responsibility of the federal government and I congratulate and commend the committee for addressing this issue in its first hearing,” O’Sullivan said.
America’s infrastructure—roads, bridges and highways, and water systems—are in a state of crisis. Across the U.S., 26 percent of all bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. One-third of major roads are in mediocre or poor condition, and 36 percent of major urban highways are stretched beyond capacity. Each day, 7 billion gallons of clean drinking water are lost to leaking pipes. The scope of our needs is beyond the capacity of cities, counties, even states or private investment to address and the economic impacts could be devastating. The American Society of Civil Engineers predicts we will lose $1 trillion in business sales, $324 billion in exports and 1 million jobs annually by 2020 if we don’t act.
“Our country needs a new American Marshall Plan to tackle this crisis, a new way to think about and invest in the basics of America,” O’Sullivan added.
Investing in America’s basic infrastructure would not only help rescue our economy but also working people. The construction industry is weathering the most sustained downturn in 40 years with 2 million fewer jobs in the industry than at the peak in April of 2006; the unemployment rate is 16.1 percent.