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U.S. Labor Leaders Call for $4 Trillion Infrastructure Program

Nov. 7, 2017 (EIRNS)—At an Oct. 23 press conference during the AFL-CIO’s Convention in St. Louis, the president of North America’s Building Trades Union, Sean McGarvey, joined other labor leaders to call for a $4 trillion program to repair and build infrastructure in the United States—an amount far and above the $1 trillion President Trump has called for.

Press Associates Union News Service reports that McGarvey was joined by union presidents James Callahan of the Operating Engineers, Robert Martinez of the Machinists, and Lonnie Stephenson of the Electrical Workers, all of whom emphasized the need for more funding for the crucial infrastructure building the country needs.

What the four discussed in terms of funding is inadequate, however, begging the question of a Hamiltonian credit system and Glass-Steagall. While McGarvey usefully raised the issue of increasing the federal gasoline tax, this cannot provide the amount of funding required. The current gas tax raises only about $35 billion a year. The other funding source mentioned, public-private partnerships, is unworkable, as President Trump himself has recognized. And, the current "tax reform" under discussion in Congress makes no mention of the gas tax.

McGarvey reported that his department has been working with both the White House and three business organizations—the Busines Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Chamber of Commerce—to craft federal legislation.

The labor leaders emphasized that despite the "recovery" from the so-called Great Recession (which is quite hard to find), the U.S. still has enormous unmet infrastructure needs, including old water pipes, underground utilities that break down, cracking and decaying roads, and a creaky electrical grid. Callahan said

"we’re also concerned about the funding, but also with underground subsystems. They’re the sewers, the electrical lines and what’s below the roads. That’s why we’re trying to get a permanent (fiscal) lockbox, both for funding structures and for hiring enough people."

According to September 2017 data, there are currently 433,000 jobless construction workers, which figure is probably lower than the reality.