The Electrical Worker online
December 2021

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Here Come the Jobs

More than a year ago, Joe Biden campaigned on delivering the long-awaited infrastructure investment that had been talked about for years with no results.

Well, I'm proud to say that as I write this month's column, the U.S. House of Representatives just sent that bill — $1.2 trillion in investment — to President Biden's desk.

House Democrats and 13 Republicans finished the job started by President Biden and a bipartisan group in the U.S. Senate and made a commitment to American working people that was long overdue.

As a result, roads and bridges, ports and airports, railways, charging networks and the electric grid itself are about to get a massive upgrade. And IBEW members will be there at every step.

Because here's the thing: The money is an incredible first step, but a commitment to doing this work with union craftsmen and craftswomen wasn't always guaranteed. There was talk of infrastructure for years before President Biden delivered, and the word "union" rarely came up, especially in a positive light.

Since January, "union" and "IBEW" have come out of Joe Biden's mouth so frequently that I've lost count. At a national laboratory promoting the infrastructure plan outside of Denver in September, Biden was captured in a private moment telling the head of the facility that, "I want this work to be done union. … I mean it," he said until the administrator agreed.

Behind the scenes matched up with the public messaging. This infrastructure investment will put union tradesmen and women to work for decades, and each of you will benefit, whether through direct jobs on infrastructure projects or the downstream effects of more than a trillion dollars being pumped into the economy.

So, let me tell you a little more about what's in this bill and how it will affect every single branch of the IBEW.

There's $110 billion for roads and bridges; $65 billion for broadband expansion; tens of billions for public transit, including $66 billion for our sisters and brothers at Amtrak.

There's $7.5 billion for electric vehicle chargers, which President Biden has said over and over will be installed by IBEW members; $65 billion for upgrading the electrical grid and constructing thousands of new miles of transmission lines; tens of billions for airport and port upgrades and $55 billion to upgrade water infrastructure and eliminate lead to ensure what happened to the residents of Flint, Mich., never happens again in the United States.

We haven't seen this kind of investment in America since World War II.

Whether you voted for Joe Biden or not, this bill delivers for America's working families, and especially for the union trades. To those who worked so hard on it and voted to make it law, the IBEW says thank you and stands ready to get to work.


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Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer