American Jobs Plan takes center stage at NABTU Legislative Conference
Insulators International Staff — Tue, Jun 8, 2021 @ 15:06 PM
After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the North America’s Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference returned, albeit virtually in 2021 with representatives from all 14 affiliated building trades attending the conference that was held on June 5.
For NABTU and its affiliated members, the virtual conference was a big step for the union construction industry, as it begins to transition back to normal operations with the pandemic winding down in the U.S.
Following the introduction of each union’s General President, NABTU President Sean McGarvey opened the virtual conference.
“In the darkest days of this country, when no one knew which way was up, you kept working. You are essential,” McGarvey said. “You, Brothers and Sisters, are what is right about this country.”
McGarvey then highlighted the Biden Administration and the support the federal government is giving the building trades and its members, including pension relief, large projects and continually publicly promoting unions as a solution. He felt the administration has supported unions every step of the way.
“If the past few months are a sign of what's to come as far as the poor, the working class, and the building trades are concerned - where we’re not just outside the gates, but actually have a seat at the table, and a voice in deciding critical economic, energy, and labor issues for our great nation - Brothers and Sisters, there are even better days ahead for us,” McGarvey said.
His speech then shifted from federal politics to NABTU accomplishments over the last two years, including the Trades Women Build Nations Conference, apprenticeship readiness programs and the fact that over a quarter of MC3 graduates are women.
“The time is now to create ladders of opportunity, to provide opportunities to the underserved communities, to empower hard working Americans to unionize,” McGarvey said. “The time is now to finish this job and for the first time in our lifetime have a President who works for us,” he added.
Following McGarvey was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calf.), who applauded the union-focused legislation, which has already passed and put workers first. She then discussed the need to pass the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and explained why it is important to give all Americans the opportunity to organize and join a union. Pelosi also urged all in attendance to contact elected officials and tell them to pass the American Jobs Plan so we can continue growing unions as the workforce to execute all of the federal funding.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) followed Pelosi and focused his speech on the growth opportunities for trade unions through the American Jobs Plan and the PRO Act.
“We will see growth of our construction industry through federal projects with the infrastructure plan. We will work to ensure all federal projects are done under a project labor agreement. Every federal dollar should be union labor,” he said. “Once America is unionized, protecting workers from the bosses and getting rid of the scabs, we can truly bring up the union workers.”
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm then spoke on the infrastructure bill and mentioned the Insulators Union for good, green jobs.
“We are betting on American workers to win,” she said. “You are the ones that keep the lights on and the trains running. You are the ones that have built our public infrastructure. Your safety standards ensure that all workers go home to their families every night. America owes you a great debt, and that’s why this administration is laser-focused on seizing the opportunity of the clean energy economy for union workers.”
The next set of guest speakers included House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
“Unions are going to be indispensable to building our future,” Buttigieg said. “I hope it is clear to see where this administration stands - it is on your side.”
He explained why this is the best chance to transform the country’s infrastructure with a union workforce.
“These jobs are real and available to the American people if we have the vision and the support for the American Jobs Plan Act,” Buttigieg said.
He then applauded the building trades for their registered apprenticeship programs and workforce development, which helps grow the industry. Buttigieg also lauded the building trades for increasing their membership by recruiting members of the underserved communities into their ranks.
The final speakers before conference workshops began were U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). They both applauded the unions and focused their messaging on passing the American Jobs Plan Act.
Following the speakers, a virtual Legislative Infrastructure Workshop took place, with NABTU Legislative Representatives Jim Brewer and Ross Maradian discussing the Biden administration’s first 100 days in office, legislation and how the administration supports union building trades members.
Topics of the workshop included the American Jobs Plan; registered apprenticeship programs; labor standards such as local hire and community benefit agreements; and clean energy developments. Following their updates, there was a question and answer segment. Topics related to the Insulators Union included green and clean energy efforts.
The final portion of the Legislative Conference was a workshop for multiemployer pension plans, something that affects all of our building trades, councils and Local Unions. The workshop was led by the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP) and discussed the special financial assistance program, outlined the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s (PBGC) current rules and processes and COBRA premium subsidies. Again, attendees of the conference had a chance after the presentation to ask questions and engage with the presenters of the multiemployer workshop.
Thank you to the Local Union Officers who attended the virtual NABTU 2021 Legislative Conference.