November 2010

From the Officers
index.html Home    Print    Email

Go to
Time to Rebuild America

I write this column before the election, but regardless of which party ends up controlling Congress, the American people's priority remains jobs, jobs, jobs. Unemployment continues to hover near 10 percent, while in construction it's closer to 20.

Stimulus funds are drying up fast and there is no sign that the private sector is ready to pick up the slack.

Unless we want to see a decade of double-digit unemployment, Congress has to step into the vacuum created by corporate America's hiring freeze. And there is no better way to put America back to work than by rebuilding our country's aged infrastructure.

Most of our roads, bridges and electrical systems date back to the 1950s or earlier. The American Society of Civil Engineers grades our industrial infrastructure a D, estimating that it will require $2 trillion in repairs to bring it up to date.

By modernizing our infrastructure, not only are we making sure our economy remains competitive in the 21st century global marketplace, we are also creating tens of thousands of construction jobs—good middle-class jobs that will rejuvenate local economies across the country.

More than 70 years ago, in the midst of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt invested more than $6 billion in massive public works projects, which put out-of-work construction workers, including thousands of IBEW members, back on the job. The Lincoln Tunnel, the Grand Coulee Dam and the electrification of rural America are all monuments to Roosevelt's Public Works Administration, which helped pave the way for the most sustained period of economic growth in our country's history.

Infrastructure investment is a down payment on our economic future. As any homeowner knows, putting off vital home repairs only adds to your bill down the road. Continuing to let our roads, bridges and electrical systems crumble translates into lost economic growth.

The thousands of IBEW members who spent the last year out of a job are ready to get to work rebuilding America. President Obama's proposal for revamping our nation's transportation infrastructure is a good start, but more must be done to get skilled workers off the bench, including overhauling the transmission grid. We're ready; how about Congress?


Also: Hill: A Call for Economic Patriotism

Lindell K. Lee
International Secretary-Treasurer