Meeting with Legislators, They Inform Congress About the Priorities of the Workers Who Build Our Nation
Washington, D.C. (April 17, 2018) – Leaders of LIUNA – the nation’s largest union of construction laborers – spread across Capitol Hill today, informing members of Congress about the legislative priorities of their half-million members.
More than 100 LIUNA leaders visited Congressional Offices of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House as part of the annual North American Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference.
“The men and women who help build our nation want their members of Congress to understand and address their priorities – the things that matter to the working class and their families,” said Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA, the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “These local union leaders are citizen lobbyists, appealing to Congress to take action on both their behalf and the working men and women whom they represent.”
LIUNA leaders discussed several key issues with legislators and their staff, including:
• The need for a federally-funded infrastructure initiative to rebuild America and create jobs across the country. This includes a sustainable user-fee to ensure the stability of the Highway Trust Fund, as well as innovative investment mechanisms, such as public-private partnerships.
• Streamlining permitting and regulatory processes to unlock the nation’s energy resources. LIUNA members work on projects involving renewables, natural gas, oil, nuclear and other energy infrastructure across the country, but are too often thwarted by outdated regulatory procedures, frivolous lawsuits and permitting battles.
• Passage of the Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now Act, which would significantly leverage funding for investment in water resources projects through the Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act.
• Defending and strengthening the Davis-Bacon Act and its prevailing wage provisions, which prevent unscrupulous contractors from undermining local wages and living standards on federally-assisted construction projects.
• Support for the GROW Act, which would help multiemployer pension plans make structural changes and continue to provide retirement security for workers. Leaders also noted that the union strongly opposes any additional increases in Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation premiums.
• Opposition to taxes on collectively-bargained healthcare plans. While the 40 percent so-called “Cadillac tax” on many union plans has been delayed until 2022, LIUNA representatives emphasized the need to fully repeal the tax, which punishes workers and their unions for responsibly providing healthcare insurance.
• The urgent need for legislation supporting immigrants in the DACA program, also known as, Dreamers, as well as, those in the United States under the Temporary Protective Status Program. About 30 percent of workers with temporary protective status work in the construction industry, helping to build America every day. Likewise, the leaders discussed opposition to guest worker programs in the construction and landscape industries because they open immigrant workers up to abuse and weaken workplace standards for all workers.
• The destructive impact of so-called “right to work” laws on wages, benefits and working conditions. LIUNA is strongly opposed to the so-called National Right to Work Act introduced in Congress, which would spread the destructive law’s impact from 28 states to every state.
• The attack on federal employees, who have contributed $19 billion toward deficit reduction through pay freezes and pension cuts, and are facing an assault on their job security through attempts to undermine their unions. Leaders of LIUNA, who represent about 25,000 federal workers, called on members of Congress to end these attacks.
• Postal reform legislation to free the Postal Service from unfair pension funding requirements and allow the service to modestly increase mail costs. LIUNA supports the Postal Reform Act of 2017, which would accomplish these goals.
O’Sullivan said the day of meeting with Congressional members is part of the union’s ongoing effort seeking legislative action and will continue through this year’s mid-term elections and beyond.
“These issues are not complex and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the need for action, not just talk,” he said. “Fixing our roads and bridges, ensuring those who work hard have good family-supporting wages and benefits, defending the right of working people to join together and honoring those who serve as federal employees and Postal workers –are fundamental issues that Congress must address. The strong, proud, and united members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America will not allow Congress to duck and dodge on their responsibility to working-class families.”