Washington, D.C. (April 9, 2012) – LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan issued the following statement in reaction to the sudden passing of Mark H. Ayers, President of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) on April 8:
It is with great sadness that I and the LIUNA General Executive Board, on behalf of our half-million members, offer heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and many union brothers and sisters of BCTD President Mark Ayers.
As leader of the BCTD, Mark was a true trade unionist and a valiant warrior for change. His death is a loss to us all.
Mark was a passionate and effective champion for strengthening the voice of construction workers and their families in government, on the job and within their own communities. Mark truly has left the labor movement and our country a better place than the way he found it.
It was the labor movement’s good fortune to have had Mark on our side all these years. The advancements he helped make for the rights of workers throughout North America will live on for generations to come.
While we are all saddened by his untimely death and he will be greatly missed, Mark will live on in the hearts he touched and with the working men and women whose lives he improved.
Mark was a credit to his family, his union and the entire labor movement. He was a good man and a great leader and I am proud to have called him my friend and my brother.
Washington, D.C. (March 28, 2012) – LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – today stepped up its pressure on House Republicans to stop playing politics with the Highway Bill and adopt a bipartisan Senate bill that will preserve investment in bridges and highways, support jobs and protect motorists.
The union has been at the forefront of the effort to pass the Senate’s two-year bi-partisan effort with intensive radio ads in Ohio and Kentucky, direct mail and the use of its “Emergency Bridge Repair Team” truck. The 15-foot flatbed truck – carrying a giant roll of duct tape to symbolize the House Republican approach to caring for America’s bridges – began traveling to bridges in metro Washington, D.C.
“One in four bridges in the U.S. is structurally deficient or obsolete. The average bridge is 45 years old, dangerously close to the average bridge lifespan of 50 years,” said LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan. “Yet Republicans in the House, led by Speaker John Boehner, are mired in political gamesmanship and blocking adoption of a bipartisan Senate solution. What they offer at best is a Highway Bill extension that is nothing more than duct tape for a bridge crisis that is threatening safety, jobs and our economy.”
The current Highway Bill expires March 31. The bill is the single-largest jobs-creating legislation in the nation and is mainly how highways, bridges and transit systems are built and maintained.
In early March, LIUNA began airing “London Bridge,” a radio ad in Kentucky and Ohio. In the ad, children sing “America’s bridges falling down” and call on House Speaker John Boehner to lead the effort to pass the bi-partisan Senate bill in the House. The union has also introduced “Russian Roulette,” a hard-hitting ad in Rep. Boehner’s district and other Ohio cities. The ad asks, “How many people do you imagine will have to die before we repair our crumbling infrastructure?”
In addition, LIUNA sent Ohio voters 90,000 pieces of direct mail, entitled “How to Survive A Collapsed Bridge: Inspired by Speaker of the House John Boehner.” The tongue-in-cheek piece provides both details on bridge deficiencies and guidance from the U.S. Army Survival Guide.
While the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis was a high-profile fatal tragedy, research shows that poor road conditions contribute to 53% of traffic fatalities – and surpasses speeding and drunk-driving as single largest variable in increasing the severity of crash injuries.
The Emergency Bridge Repair Truck Team will stop at several high-profile bridges, including the Key Bridge, the 14th Street Bridge over Maine Avenue and the Anacostia Freeway Bridge over Firth Sterling Avenue – all deficient bridges within the shadow of the U.S. Capitol.
LIUNA members will actually duct tape the bridge with tape carrying a sticker that says, “John Boehner: Fix This Bridge!”
O’Sullivan noted that several House Republicans have indicated support for the bi-partisan Senate Highway Bill and that it could likely pass the House with Democratic and Republican votes. He urged the Speaker to free himself from fringe tea party elements blocking passage of the Senate bill and to abandon the effort to write a partisan bill.
“That partisan effort has failed to gather enough support for more than a month and underscores the failure of the Republicans and their leadership,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s time to put one and one together – men and women who desperately need work and bridge repair that desperately needs to be done. Politicians preach about building bridges – how about just fixing some? If the House doesn’t pass the bi-partisan Senate bill, we’re going to need more than an entire fleet of duct tape trucks.”
You can follow the Emergency Bridge Repair Team truck on twitter @LIUNA and learn more about LIUNA’s effort at www.HighwayBill.org.
Cincinnati, OH (March 21, 2012) – LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America –today launched a multi-city media tour in U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s home state of Ohio, highlighting the safety crisis of America’s roads and bridges and urging the Republican leader to swiftly adopt the U.S. Senate’s bi-partisan Highway Bill.
A 15-foot flatbed truck labeled “Emergency Bridge Repair Team” made the first of several stops at the Cincinnati’s Brent Space Bridge – one of nearly 6,400 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges in Ohio – where LIUNA members passed out information about the Highway Bill. The truck carried a giant roll of duct tape, symbolizing the current approach to the crisis facing America’s aging bridges. Local labor, elected and business leaders also convened a press conference near Rep. Boehner’s West Chester district office.
“If extremist Republicans in Congress have their way, we will need a whole fleet of trucks and a lot more duct tape,” said Randy McGuire, Marketing Director for the Ohio Laborers’ District Council. “Instead of passing a bipartisan bill that will protect bridges and jobs like the Senate has done, the House continues on the path of partisan politics and is putting public safety at risk.”
The average U.S. bridge is now 45 years old, dangerously close to the average bridge lifespan of 50 years. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, one-in-four bridges nationwide are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Many are unsafe – and thousands of others create a chokehold on commerce because they are unable to carry commercial vehicles. Another 3,580 are closed altogether because they’re unsafe for travel.
The week-long tour includes additional stops in Dayton and Columbus as the current extension of the Highway Bill is set to expire on March 31. Last week, the Senate passed a two-year, $109 billion investment that enjoyed broad bipartisan support.
“It is now up to Speaker Boehner to lead the House to follow suit,” said McGuire. “Bipartisanship is hard to come by these days, but the Senate came together to pass a good Highway Bill last week. Speaker Boehner can now lead his party to do the same in the House. So far, previous efforts to pass the bill in the House have been blocked by Republicans efforts to slash investment and jobs.”
“Playing politics with our nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and highways isn’t just putting the chokehold on jobs – it’s endangering lives,” said Butler County community leader and life-long resident Jodi Billerman, citing the fatal bridge collapse on I-35 in Minneapolis four years ago. “We don’t want a terrible tragedy like that to happen here in Ohio – and if Congress can pass a Highway Bill to keep people safe and protect jobs at the same time, that just seems like a no-brainer to me.”
In addition to the “Emergency Bridge Repair Team” truck, LIUNA’s multi-media campaign also includes a powerful radio ad – “Russian Roulette” – which warns motorists that the House is in effect forcing motorists to play Russian roulette every time they cross an unsafe bridge. The ad is saturating airwaves in Speaker Boehner’s home district, including Dayton, as well as in Columbus and Cincinnati.
The effort also includes a direct mail piece, “How to Survive a Collapsed Bridge: Inspired by House Speaker John Boehner.” The tongue-in-cheek brochure draws from the U.S. Army Survival Guide on bridge collapses. The brochures were mailed to 90,000 activist Ohio voters last week.
And thousands of LIUNA members across the country continue to call their representative in the House, urging passage of the bi-partisan Senate bill in the House.
“This campaign is hard-hitting and it’s provocative – it’s also accurate,” said McGuire. “The crisis is real. What is it going to take for Mr. Boehner to listen, to rise above partisanship and to lead the passage of a bi-partisan Highway Bill to save our bridges, support jobs and protect lives?”
For more information, to view campaign materials and listen to the ads, visit www.HighwayBill.org.
Brendan Smith: Dirty vs. Green Jobs: Labor's Keystone Dilemma -
“These are tough times to be a construction worker in America. While other sectors of the economy are showing signs of life, the unemployment rate in the construction industry is getting worse, not better — rising from 16 percent to 17 percent in January.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brendan-smith/keystone-xl-labor-unions_b_1334322.html
Washington, D.C. (March 6, 2012) – LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – today launched a hard-hitting multi-media campaign to highlight the growing public safety crisis posed by America’s crumbling bridges, deteriorating roads and struggling transit systems. The campaign appeals to voters to call on the Republican leadership in Congress to support a long-term Highway Bill that protects investment in transportation systems.
The provocative effort includes:
Creative tactics in the form of a flatbed truck carrying a giant roll of duct tape. Signage on the truck will state “Emergency Bridge Repair Team.” The truck will travel though Ohio and Kentucky.
The campaign comes as Congress faces a March 31 deadline to extend the Highway Bill. Last fall, Congress passed a temporary extension, but a desperately-needed long-term Highway Bill to fix America’s ailing transportation systems has been repeatedly sabotaged by Republican political games.
“The average age of bridges in the U.S. is 45 years – dangerously close to the designed lifespan of 50 years,” LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan said. “With this campaign, we’re letting Congress know that while they’re busy playing politics, Americans are being forced to risk their safety every time they cross a deficient or obsolete bridge.”
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 24% of bridges – 143,000 nationwide – have been deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete by Federal Highway Administration inspectors. About 3,580 bridges in the U.S. are closed to all traffic because they are unsafe. About 77,000 create a chokehold on commerce because they are obsolete and can’t handle the weight of commercial vehicles.
Meanwhile 1.5 million construction workers – who are trained, ready and able to repair our nation’s bridges – are jobless. “It is insulting to the public and to working people that Congress has politicized the traditionally bi-partisan Highway Bill,” O’Sullivan said. “Politicizing the Highway Bill is bad for America.”
The Highway Bill doesn’t just sustain bridges – it protects investment in the nation’s overall transportation systems. Due to the logjam in Congress and the failure to keep up, poor road conditions have become a contributing factor in 53% of traffic fatalities, according to a Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation study. The study also found that poor roadway condition is the single largest variable in increasing the severity of crash injuries – more than speeding, alcohol or failure to wear seat belts.
Currently a bipartisan bill in the Senate has been stalled by politically-motivated amendments un-related to transportation put forth by some Republicans. The $109 billion Senate bill would keep investment level for two-years. The House has been handcuffed by extremist Republicans seeking to slash investment.
“This campaign is jarring, hard-hitting and provocative – and accurate. It is exasperating that it takes this kind of effort to motivate elected officials to act on behalf of the country,” said O’Sullivan. “Congress, in an election year, should be fearful of failing to act. At best, these aging bridges contribute to deteriorating lifestyle for Americans and are crippling our country’s ability to compete. At worst, as witnessed with the tragic I-35 Minneapolis bridge collapse, they are thousands of accidents waiting to happen.”
In Senator McConnell’s own state, the I-64 Sherman-Minton Bridge – a high-traffic artery for commuters and commerce – was shut down for months last year after inspectors declared it too unsafe to drive on. That bridge is just one of 4,257 deficient or obsolete bridges in Kentucky. In Congressman Boehner’s home state of Ohio, almost 6,400 bridges fall into that category.
Date: February 28, 2012
Subject: Laborers’ Support Helps TransCanada Move Forward
on Southern Portion of Keystone XL Pipeline
The Southwest Laborers’ District Council is proud to join TransCanada in announcing their plans to build the southern leg of its $7 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline. Thanks in part to the overwhelming support of Laborers in Oklahoma and Texas, TransCanada and is committing to building the entire southern portion from Cushing, Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas
TransCanada, whose initial Keystone XL application was rejected in January after more than three years of review, said it wants the southern portion of the pipeline, running to Texas refineries from Cushing, Oklahoma, to be in service by mid- to late 2013. The approximate cost is $2.3 billion.
The approval process for the full TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline provided the opportunity for the Laborers to join business leaders, chambers of commerce and other labor unions in support of good-paying American jobs and energy independence. The SWLDC led these efforts in coordination with TransCanada representatives to rally support for the pipeline at the Department of State’s Public Hearings in Port Arthur and Austin, Texas and Midwest City, Oklahoma. Hundreds of members of the Southwest Laborers attended and spoke in support of the project as a lifeline for American workers and the American economy.
“The Keystone XL will deliver much-needed oil to Texas refineries, while immediately creating desperately needed jobs throughout the Southwest District Council. This pipeline is a major step in establishing our energy independence, getting America’s economy moving and putting our members to work,” stated Reno Hammond, SWLDC Business Manager.
A benefit to TransCanada building the 700,000 barrels per day Cushing-to-Texas portion first is the elimination of State Department approval, as the line would not cross the Canada-U.S. border. The White House said it welcomed the plan for a new line to the Gulf Coast and would help expedite permits so TransCanada could build it in a timely manner.
LIUNA Builds America: Fighting for the Keystone XL Pipeline
by Adele Stan, Feb 6, 2012
With the graduation of seven newly certified weatherization technicians from its Eastern New York Laborers Training Center, the New York State Laborers’ Union (NYSLIUNA) is blowing holes in several right-wing myths all at once, proving that jobless people do want to work, government programs can spur the creation of good jobs and labor unions can lead the way to prosperity.
Working in partnership with Peter Young Housing, Industries & Treatment (PYHIT), a non-profit that provides treatment, housing and vocational training to disadvantaged people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, the Laborers trained these first members of Green Jobs Local 58, chartered by the Laborers (LIUNA) as the first local in the Albany, N.Y., region dedicated exclusively to green jobs. Participants in the training had to be clean and sober for at least six months in order to be accepted into the program.
Thanks in part to the state’s 2009 Green Jobs/Green New York Act and a new program launched by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the demand for the retrofitting of homes to be more weather-resistant and energy-efficient is expected to climb. (Through the NYSERDA program, residents will be able to finance the weatherization of their homes via their monthly utility bills.)
The new Local 58 members will work for Eagle Street Construction, one of PYHIT’s vocational enterprises. Local 58 Business Manager Frank Marchese Jr. told the Albany Times Union that the workers would earn $14 per hour, plus a benefits package. He told the paper:
We are taking people involved in social programs who are now moving into being viable taxpayers.
Pete Wilcox, one of the local’s new members, expressed his enthusiasm to the Times Union this way:
I am very thankful for the opportunity to get green jobs training. I live in Albany and it means a lot to me to be able to have the skills to weatherize homes in my own backyard.
Sounds like a win for everybody.