U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio (OR-4) and Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) today joined leaders from the BlueGreen Alliance to call for manufacturing, infrastructure, and good union jobs to be the centerpiece for economic recovery legislation. The BlueGreen Alliance is specifically calling for at least $4 trillion in investment. Currently there are over 10 million unemployed workers in the United States and even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic workers’ wages had been stagnant for decades—particularly for workers of color.
“We can deal with the climate crisis by solving our infrastructure crisis,” said U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-4), who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “This is also an opportunity to create good-paying, union jobs for all Americans, as we can target investments in communities of color, areas impacted by deindustrialization, and other underserved regions of our nation and ensure that the policies are in place to lift up job quality.”
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)’s 2017 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave the nation’s infrastructure a grade of “D+,” and estimated that getting to a grade of “B” would require a significant federal investment over the next 10 years. BlueGreen Alliance research has found that investing an estimated $2.2 trillion in key sectors of America’s infrastructure has the potential to support or create an additional 14.5 million job-years across the U.S. economy, add a cumulative $1.66 trillion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over 10 years, and reduce greenhouse gas pollution and boost climate resilience, versus a business as-usual approach. Infrastructure investment is a key component in the BlueGreen Alliance’s priorities for a COVID-19 recovery package.
Last year, the BlueGreen Alliance proposed a set of national actions to achieve global leadership across clean technology manufacturing; cut emissions from the production of essential materials; and undertake a new generation of industrial development that rebuilds good American jobs and is clean, safe, and fair for workers and communities alike.
“To build back better than we were, infrastructure and manufacturing investments must be front and center in recovery efforts. This includes both our physical infrastructure—like roads, bridges, ports and waterways—but also the social infrastructure of our schools, communications networks, and public health services,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Tom Conway. “Earlier this month, our union launched an infrastructure campaign that we’re calling We Supply America. That’s because our members are ready and willing to produce the materials we need to repair and modernize our nation’s infrastructure and get to work rebuilding America.”
“The past year has exposed the interlocking crises we face: climate change, systemic racism, a health crisis, and an inequitable economy,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “We cannot seek to return to normal, we must build back better. That’s why it’s critical we retool and rebuild our manufacturing sector as we create millions of jobs that will propel our nation to an equitable, just, and livable future.”
Recent polling confirms that voters in the Midwest vigorously support making rebuilding and retooling the American manufacturing sector a critical component of recovery efforts by Congress or the Biden administration. The poll found 86% said it is important to rebuild and retool American manufacturing to make the products we need here at home, including modernizing our factories to produce less pollution and investing in clean technologies. Additionally, 83% said it is important that we modernize and repair America’s aging infrastructure systems, including transportation, energy, water, sewage, and telecommunications systems.
“Strengthening and retooling our manufacturing sector to make today’s and tomorrow’s clean technologies and all products in cleaner ways, and modernizing our crumbling infrastructure to be safer and more energy efficient will protect our air and water, boost efforts to end economic and racial injustice, and create good union jobs across our nation,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh. “We are thrilled to join with our congressional champions and partners here today to call on President Biden and Congress to follow through on their promises to build back and deliver for working people and the environment.”