Win-Win: Create Good Jobs, Rebuild Nation's Infrastructure
by Seth D Michaels, Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 05:01:44 AM EST
The second in a series on the AFL-CIO's job creation proposals.
As part of the AFL-CIO's five-point plan for job creation, we're making concrete proposals to address the nation's immediate jobs crisis while keeping an eye on creating a sustainable economy in the future.
Investment in rebuilding the nation's infrastructure can put millions of people to work now and improve our country for the long term. The United States has some $2.2 trillion in unmet infrastructure needs. That's a lot of work that needs to be done, at a time when 26 million people are unemployed or underemployed.
Here are some infrastructure priorities that can create jobs now while laying out a strong foundation and offering benefits for years to come:
- Transportation, including high-speed rail, roads and bridges.
- School construction and repair.
- Drinking water and wastewater systems.
- Clean energy and green technology investment, as outlined by the Apollo Alliance.
- Retrofitting buildings to make them more energy-efficient.
- Improvements to National Parks.
These investments would benefit jobless workers as well as communities across the country.
Congress must pass, and President Barack Obama must sign, bills to invest in these areas. At a time when state and local budgets are strained, they need federal help to carry out infrastructure projects, and we can use existing programs and agencies to distribute funds.
However, it's not enough just to put people to work. We need to make sure these jobs are good jobs, living up to our obligation to provide workers with fair wages, health and retirement benefits and safe working conditions. To ensure maximum job creation, we need to apply Buy America provisions to products used in these projects, to make sure the money we're investing really creates jobs here. And we need to make resources available to train workers for these jobs.
Better schools, cleaner water, more energy-efficient homes and businesses, green technology--we can achieve all of these goals while giving people the paychecks they need to keep our economy moving. It's a win-win situation.
(Cross-posted from the AFL-CIO Now Blog.)