Leaders of the AFL-CIO and affiliate unions, including the SIU, hailed congressional passage of the five-year $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which President Joe Biden signed on Nov. 15.
SIU Executive Vice President Augie Tellez was an invited guest at the outdoor signing ceremony.
“The Seafarers International Union enthusiastically applauds President Biden and Congress for enactment of the bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Act,” the SIU said in a prepared statement. “This legislation is a massive victory for our country, and a credit to President Biden, Vice President Harris and the legislators who supported it.
“We are confident that, in addition to many other worthwhile outcomes, the bill will directly lead to new investment in America’s maritime industry,” the statement continued. “The legislation holds great promise for building new U.S.- flag vessels and creating new job opportunities for the U.S. Merchant Marine. The SIU is honored to have been invited to the signing ceremony – a further reflection of the Administration’s respect for the labor movement. We look forward to supporting the resultant efforts to help revitalize American maritime.”
AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said, “Victories like this are why we campaigned so hard for President Biden.” She called the legislation “a monumental political and legislative accomplishment. After decades of delay and decline, America’s workers stand ready to rebuild our country. This $1 trillion investment in roads, bridges, transit, rail, climate change mitigation, electric vehicles, clean drinking water, high-speed Internet, resilient transmission lines and more is centered around the creation of good union jobs.”
The law includes a number of strong “Buy America” provisions, which U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) had strongly pushed for several years.
“America’s infrastructure used to be the envy of the world,” said Brown. “But after years of neglect, we see it crumbling all around us – at our airports, on bridges and roads. We have lead in too many pipes, transit systems in need of upgrades, and too many communities still without broadband. Plenty of politicians have talked about fixing this infrastructure, but it’s all been empty talk – until now. Now, under President Biden, we are finally getting this done, with the bipartisan infrastructure bill.”
A White House statement described the bill as “the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural infrastructure in American history. Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when their roads wash out, airport power goes down, or schools get flooded. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. The law makes our communities safer and our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks, with an investment of over $50 billion to protect against droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and floods – in addition to a major investment in the weatherization of American homes…. These investments will unlock the full potential of a clean energy economy that combats climate change, advances environmental justice, and creates good-paying, union jobs.”