The Electrical Worker online
June 2012

From the Officers
index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
Taking the High Road on Infrastructure

J.P. Morgan Chase is in the news again. The CEO of the legendary house of finance — whose precursor once helped establish General Electric and the U.S. steel industry — has apologized for the investment bank's risky bets that lost his firm $2 billion.

Some Wall Street firms continue to play fast and loose with complicated deals that only they fully understand, leaving our economy in jeopardy.

But, recent news from Chicago should give a measure of hope that the dire problems faced by working families — addressed in this issue of The Electrical Worker — can begin to be solved by progressive public-private partnerships.

The Chicago Infrastructure Trust is the first of its kind in the nation. Mayor Rahm Emanuel reached out to private sources and convinced them to invest $7 billion in helping to rebuild the city's infrastructure.

The trust is expected to create more than 30,000 jobs and ensure that the public's safety is addressed with upgrades to the city's parks, streets, railways, airports, public schools and water systems.

Unlike other local development projects where municipalities are taking the low road on wages and benefits, Chicago is committed to using union building trades on the infrastructure projects. The IBEW and the Chicago Federation of Labor will be on the ground floor in planning projects.

Retrofit Chicago, the first effort sponsored by the trust, will focus on retrofitting lighting for energy savings in public buildings. As energy costs are reduced, investors will be paid back on a project-by-project basis.

We may be a long way from the big banks once again making massive investments in our nation's domestic industrial sector.

But I hope the Chicago Infrastructure Trust marks a healthy start at convincing some big lending institutions to invest in the public interest, not just lining their own pockets.


Also: Hill: Writing the Book on Wealth Inequality Read Hill's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer