Working People Respond to Passage of Historic Infrastructure Legislation

Working People Respond to Passage of Historic Infrastructure Legislation

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the legislation now goes to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature. Working people across the country applauded the legislation as a breakthrough victory for working families. Here are responses from advocates for working families to the bill’s passage:

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler:

Victories like this are why we campaigned so hard for President Biden. Finally, at long last, infrastructure week is really here. Today’s final passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a monumental political and legislative accomplishment. After decades of delay and decline, America’s workers stand ready to rebuild our country. This $1 trillion investment in roads, bridges, transit, rail, climate change mitigation, electric vehicles, clean drinking water, high-speed internet, resilient transmission lines and more is centered around the creation of good union jobs. 

Yet there is still more work to be done. The Build Back Better Act will knock down the barriers that have prevented so many workers, especially women and people of color, from finding high-quality sustainable jobs. It will make quality child care and elder care available to relieve the burden families face in getting back to work. Investments in good, clean union energy jobs will help us fight climate change and protect our communities. Improvements to our immigration system will ease the burden for those who want to call America home. Wealthy individuals and corporations finally will pay their fair share in taxes. And for the first time, employers will be hit with real financial penalties for union-busting, making this the most significant advancement for the right to organize since passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935. 

President Biden promised to be the most pro-union president in history—and today is another down payment on that promise. We are so close to making our economy fairer and safer for working people, and we can’t stop now. With the bipartisan infrastructure bill set to become law, the House and Senate must finish the job by sending the Build Back Better Act to President Biden’s desk. 

AFSCME President Lee Saunders:

The passage of this bill is a watershed moment that is a long time coming. It will create good union jobs, providing the shot in the arm our economy and our communities need. It will improve quality of life for all of us—everyone who drives on our roads, who rides public transit, who buys goods that pass through our ports, who depends on clean drinking water and a reliable power grid.

Today’s vote in the House comes on the immediate heels of a very strong jobs report this morning, with more than half a million jobs created in October, as the virus continues to recede. After more than a year and a half of struggle and challenge, we are starting to turn the corner, and the passage of the infrastructure bill will further accelerate progress.

But Congress’ work isn’t done. The House and the Senate both must move immediately to also pass the Build Back Better Act, which will make unprecedented and urgently needed investments in our human infrastructure.

Build Back Better would be life-changing for millions upon millions of people. It includes the robust support many of our neighbors need to live with greater security and dignity. If you rely on prescription drugs to stay alive, if the affordable housing crisis is devastating your family, if you need access to child care for your kids or home care for your elderly parents, you can’t wait any longer.

Jobs are coming back. We are getting closer to ending this pandemic. Resources are coming into our communities. We are heading in the right direction—not just a return to normalcy in America, but profound change that leaves everyone better off than before. Now, it’s time to finish the job.

International President John A. Costa, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU):

This legislation is a game changer for public transit, workers, riders, and our country. It’s a down payment on our future. With record funding for public transit, the bill provides a historic investment in fixing and modernizing our nation’s crumbling transit infrastructure. It will help fight climate change with funding to replace thousands of gas-powered buses with clean, zero-emission vehicles, and provides critical workforce development to ensure frontline transit workers are trained to safely repair, maintain, and operate vehicles with this new technology.

There has been an epidemic of violent attacks on transit workers that has only gotten worse during the pandemic. The Infrastructure bill provides important protections and safety measures to help ensure transit workers are safe on the job.

The vision of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda is a comprehensive agenda for how we move forward as a nation for generations to come. So much is on the line. It’s time to deliver what the American people voted for. By the House passing the infrastructure bill, we are one step closer to achieving real, transformative change.

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten:

This bill is a triumph for working people, the economy and the nation. It will better the life of each and every American and stands as a breakthrough after years of talk and bluster about infrastructure, but precious little action. 

Today, that changed: it shows what we can achieve when we bridge divides and work together to find solutions for the American people. This bill will get lead out of water and repair leaky tunnels. It will pipe broadband into millions of homes that sorely need it. And it’s going to restore our crumbling roads and create millions of new jobs.

Both progressive and moderates worked constructively with the speaker and the president to find a way to make this a reality. Now, we have the wind at our backs—we are dealing with COVID, adding jobs, and have a second page of history about to be written: child and elder care, pre-K, and climate action in the Build Back Better Act. Let’s celebrate tonight’s vote and continue to deliver for the American people who’ve been through so much and yearn to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Communications Workers of America (CWA):

The passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is welcome news for America’s working families.

The $65 billion in the IIJA to support the expansion and affordability of broadband will help close the digital divide. For the first time, the bill prioritizes broadband projects from employers who follow labor law. That means that the funding will create good, sustainable jobs in our communities. CWA members are eager to begin this buildout and to support the deployment. We are working with state legislators and regulators to make sure that the funds are distributed to projects that deliver the speed and reliability that customers need, and that the companies that receive the funds are held to high standards.

Additionally, to address the nation’s airports and air traffic control facilities, the IIJA allocates $25 billion for airport improvement projects, airport terminal development, and Federal Aviation Administration facilities and equipment. This will help make our airports safer for travelers and for the CWA passenger service agents and flight attendants who ensure that our air travel runs smoothly.

Finally, the inclusion of the Build America, Buy America Act in the IIJA will close the loopholes in and provide more transparency into our domestic procurement laws, helping to ensure that our tax dollars are supporting American jobs.

These investments are much needed but they are not enough. Congress must act quickly to pass the Build Back Better Act to ease the burdens of the pandemic and help working families and retirees build a better future.

Electrical Workers (IBEW) President Lonnie R. Stephenson:

Nearly one year ago, the American people voted in record numbers for a new president and majorities in Congress that would prioritize working families by making bold and visionary investments in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Today, our elected leaders made good on that promise. IBEW members and working people everywhere are celebrating the passage of the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act.

Making once-in-a-generation investments in our country, this legislation ushers in a new era of worker-centric prosperity—one characterized by good, union jobs that will put millions to work modernizing our electric grid, repairing and expanding the vital transportation services we all rely on, and creating the reduced-carbon energy solutions that will power our economy well into the 21st century and beyond.

IBEW members have long called for the kind of historic funding levels that will transform life in America and we are eager, willing, and able to get to work rebuilding this country and powering our economy. We will lead the way in building out the charging infrastructure needed for the wide-scale adoption of electric vehicles, buses, trains, and trucks. And we will continue our critical work as the power professionals who build and maintain the grid that makes life in America possible.

We commend President Biden’s leadership in addressing the climate crisis and encourage the Biden administration to continue supporting carbon-free nuclear energy. IBEW members also applaud the strong labor protections found in this legislation and will always push for the strongest labor standards possible across all infrastructure investments, including in the critical area of broadband expansion.

Restoring the middle class has always been at the heart of President Biden’s ambitious plan to Build Back Better, and the IBEW is proud to stand with President Biden, Vice President Harris and Congress in fighting for the union workers who built the middle class and our great nation.

International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART):

The passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a significant achievement to create and protect good, union jobs in the construction and transportation industries that will be instrumental in rebuilding our nation. Its passage comes as our labor market demonstrates signs of progress and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent. The passage of this legislation will further aid our recovery.

However, there is still significant work ahead. Congress must immediately pass the Build Back Better Act. This legislation will make unprecedented investments in American families and further boost economic growth. The bill applies labor standards to clean energy tax credits, expands registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, invests in high-speed rail projects, addresses indoor air quality in schools and supports workers’ right to organize by making monumental reforms to the National Labor Relations Act.

Congress must fulfill their promise to the American people and deliver on the entirety of President Biden’s agenda by swiftly passing the Build Back Better Act.

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) President Matthew Biggs: 

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a win for American workers and their communities. This bill fulfills an overdue promise that lawmakers have made to Americans and paves the way for 21st-century infrastructure projects and good-paying union jobs. IFPTE members, the work they do, and the neighborhoods they come home to, will be among the beneficiaries of this bill, which modernizes transit and transportation networks, roads and highways, ports and waterways, airports, water systems, and broadband. We now turn our attention to passing the Build Back Better Act and applaud the progress the House has made. We urge Congress to quickly follow up on this historic victory and send the Build Back Better Act to President Biden’s desk that commits to childcare and early education, economic resiliency and clean energy, research and development infrastructure, affordable housing, and tax fairness. We applaud President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader Schumer for their vision in making this historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure, and in American workers.

Terry O’Sullivan, general president of LIUNA:

The bipartisan infrastructure deal announced by the White House is a bold and transformational investment in our nation’s infrastructure that will put Laborers to work and help union families build better lives. The $1.2 trillion package will add significantly to existing investment and create hundreds of thousands of good union jobs building our roads and bridges, upgrading our drinking water and power systems, and improving infrastructure resiliency. These investments will bolster our economic well-being and secure our infrastructure for years to come.

LIUNA commends the vision of the Biden Administration and the bipartisan group of legislators who have joined with the President to craft an infrastructure package that will build and restore our nation. The collaboration and cooperation from both parties on this historic legislation is both a testament to the importance of infrastructure and an encouraging sign that lawmakers can come together on issues vital to our way of life.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and members of Congress for passage of this legislation, and to ensure each and every job created through public spending has the strongest of labor protections.

Machinists (IAM) International President Robert Martinez Jr.:

Our union is relieved that our nation’s elected officials could agree on legislation impacting millions of working families. The IAM was instrumental in helping pass the American Rescue Plan and other rescue packages to help keep our members employed and their families secure. But these were temporary fixes to a problem that needs a permanent solution. The IAM applauds the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the framework agreement on the Build Back Better Act. Both pieces of legislation will provide historic investment for the airline, transit, aerospace, manufacturing and other critical industries.

Build Back Better is transformative for families, with the Child Tax Credit, lower child care costs, universal pre-K, workforce development, and more. Corporations have been on the receiving end of corporate tax cuts and other special giveaways for too long. We need legislation that will embrace a pro-worker, pro-democracy agenda that provides millions of working families the opportunity to better wages and benefits. 

The infrastructure package will finally strengthen Buy American rules to help boost our domestic manufacturing sectors. Our union fought to include the most significant federal investment in public transit and passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak. Our transportation sector will benefit through the modernization projects created through the robust funding provided in this infrastructure package. This investment will help our vital manufacturing and transportation sectors build back better.

Our union is dedicated to reversing the trend of an economy that serves the wealthiest and most prominent corporations so that working families can live a better life with decent wages and benefits.

Rich Santa, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA):

This bipartisan infrastructure legislation is not only great news for the country, but also very significant for NATCA members. Once the president signs it into law, this legislation will provide $5 billion to help bring air traffic control facilities up to standard. Although this funding will not resolve every issue in every facility across the country, it is a major step in the right direction.

As our members know well based on their daily experiences in their facilities, and as we testified before Congress, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) physical infrastructure needs immediate attention. Upgrading the FAA’s aging air traffic control facility infrastructure remains a top priority for NATCA. Many of our facilities have exceeded their life expectancy, while others need extensive repairs and/or replacement of critical physical infrastructure systems including roofs, windows, HVAC systems, elevators, and plumbing. We expect that the IIJA will address many of these issues.

NATCA thanks the members of Congress who supported this critical legislation, which will greatly improve the physical infrastructure of the National Airspace System (NAS), helping to ensure that it remains the safest, most efficient in the world.

James T. Callahan, general president of the Operating Engineers (IUOE):

The Operating Engineers applaud the hard work and resolve of President Biden and Speaker Pelosi to make passage of the bipartisan infrastructure framework a reality and to deliver for the American people.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will enable us to build world-class infrastructure that is safe, reliable, and more resilient. It will create hundreds of thousands of family wage jobs, build healthier communities, and reduce congestion and gridlock.

This historic $1.2 trillion infrastructure investment will help train and employ tens of thousands of skilled tradespeople, including thousands of Operating Engineers, in every corner of the country. It will rebuild the nation’s crumbling public works and solidify the foundation upon which America competes in the global economy.

The legislative process is not always easy, but bipartisanship and compromise are essential to move our country forward. Passing this historic infrastructure bill is a major step forward. We expect to see further progress in the days to come.

Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) General President Jimmy Williams Jr.:

The passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by the House last night is a huge step forward for our country. IUPAT members from coast to coast are ready to go to work on the projects that will be funded through the bi-partisan infrastructure bill, and we thank those in Congress of both parties who put workers first and voted for the bill.

In order to truly move America forward, however, we need the additional investments of the Build Back Better reconciliation bill, which will make progress toward fixing labor laws that are rigged against workers; invest in our care economy; and make real inroads to tackle the climate crisis. We urge the House and Senate to immediately get to work to pass this historic investment in working people.

Together, these bills will help leverage the economic power of the United States to create quality, good paying jobs across sectors and allow our communities to grow and thrive. We cannot wait to act; the time is now to make the investments that will impact our country now and for generations to come.

United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipe Fitters (UA) General President Mark McManus:

For generations, our members have been promised good-paying jobs rebuilding American infrastructure by presidents of both parties. Now, President Biden is making good on that promise. This bipartisan infrastructure bill is a historic achievement that will create good-paying jobs for United Association members as we work to build back better. While this process was not easy, and was not without its roadblocks, Congress has finally shown our members that they are committed to create family-sustaining union jobs.”

The strong labor protections included in this bill, like prevailing wage provisions and the use of registered apprenticeships, mean that the jobs created will give every worker a fair shot at the middle class. Even more, these labor protections mean that United Association members, who are the best trained and most highly skilled craftspeople in our industry, can get to work providing clean and safe water to all our communities, delivering affordable and reliable energy to American consumers, and rebuilding critical pieces of our nation’s infrastructure—all with fair wages and benefits.

While there is still work left to do as the Senate considers the Build Back Better Act, today’s passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill is a truly historic moment. President Biden is making good on his promise to invest in infrastructure to create good-paying union jobs. Now, the entire United Association stands ready to get to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) International President John Samuelsen:

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a monumental victory for transportation workers and all workers in this country. This bill includes historic levels of much-needed federal investment that will repair, modernize, and grow our public transit and passenger rail systems. Not only will it create hundreds of thousands of new, good-paying, union jobs—it will improve job protection standards for workers nationwide.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will also ensure that workers will not be cast aside by new technology investments such as electric vehicles, prevent assaults onboard public transit and Amtrak, and raise safety standards in our transportation systems.

While no bill is perfect and the TWU will continue to fight against any increase in private activity bond (PAB) financing intended to undermine and diminish public transit service, the key infrastructure investments included in this bill will create and sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs and improve the lives of our members.

The TWU recognizes the unwavering commitment of President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Sherrod Brown, and Representative Peter DeFazio to transportation workers. Together, we look forward to building the next generation of transportation infrastructure.

UAW President Ray Curry:

With today’s passage of a bi-partisan infrastructure bill, President Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats have fixed many of the core needs that every American relies on to live, work and succeed in the future.

For UAW members, this legislation brings reliability and job opportunities by improving the current state of our roads, bridges, water, electric vehicle infrastructure, internet capacity and electrical grid reliability.

We were also encouraged by passage of the procedural rules for the Build Back Better Act (BBBA). We now look forward to swift passage by the U.S. House of the BBBA, along with the Kildee/Stabenow Provision, that when paired with this infrastructure bill will ensure that consumer EV subsidies for new EV products will be made in the United States by workers who have good paying union jobs.

United Steelworkers (USW) International President Tom Conway:

The USW applauds the U.S. House for passing this monumental bill, paving the way for a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.
Robust investment, coupled with strong domestic procurement provisions, will help American workers, including hundreds of thousands of USW members, not only by making their communities safer but by promoting widespread job growth and economic opportunity.
Our members stand ready to produce the essential building blocks of a modern infrastructure, as we begin making long-overdue upgrades to the nation’s roads, bridges, broadband, public transit, ports, power grids and more. 
Our elected leaders have long promised this kind of transformational infrastructure investment but ultimately failed to deliver. Now, thanks to President Biden’s vision and leadership, Congress has finally come together and passed bipartisan legislation that will directly benefit American workers and ensure a brighter future for generations to come. 
We now look forward to working with the administration and our congressional leaders as they address needed investments in our nation’s social infrastructure, making the rest of the president’s Build Back Better agenda a reality. 

Alaska AFL-CIO:

California Labor Federation:

Indiana AFL-CIO:

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

Michigan AFL-CIO:

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

Missouri AFL-CIO:

Montana AFL-CIO Executive Secretary James Holbrook: 

The Montana AFL-CIO and workers across our state thank Senator Jon Tester for his leadership in getting this bipartisan bill passed. Investments in good paying jobs and the infrastructure we need to keep our economy going shouldn’t be partisan. This bill pays for important investments in internet access for rural communities, clean water, fire prevention, and transportation infrastructure. All investments that Montana needs to keep our economy strong, keep our communities safe and healthy and live our daily lives.

Nevada State AFL-CIO:

New York State AFL-CIO:


Oklahoma State AFL-CIO:

Oregon AFL-CIO:

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

Tennessee AFL-CIO:

Texas AFL-CIO:

Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans:

Passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, H.R. 3684, is a significant victory for all Americans. It will make needed investments to improve public transit, repair our roads and bridges, ensure all Americans have clean drinking water, and combat climate change.

Investing $39 billion in public transit will make a difference in the lives of millions of older Americans who travel by bus and train.

Similarly, bringing broadband to every American, no matter where they live, will help the 22 million seniors who lack internet access in their homes today.

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) Executive Director Jose Vargas:

This bill is a historic investment in Latino working people. It will allow so many in our community the opportunity to enjoy stable employment and rebuild their lives in the post pandemic era. It will also enhance the communities we live in, making them more accessible and connected to their surroundings and more resilient to climate change.

North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) President Sean McGarvey:

The proud men and women of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) are ready to go to work. After decades of delay and decay, we applaud last night’s passage of the historic Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act by a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives.

As it is now sent to the President‘s desk for signature, we commend committed leaders and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who negotiated in good faith and delivered for the American people. We would also like to note our gratitude for Republicans who put the country first and joined with their colleagues in resisting threats and politics as usual by voting in the affirmative to tangibly strengthen the country we all love. The opportunities provided by this act will redound to the benefit of Americans from all walks of life, and NABTU is committed to making that a reality for those currently in and those seeking to enter the unionized construction industry.

Moreover, NABTU will remain eternally grateful to the President and for his entire Administration’s leadership on this generational accomplishment. President Biden’s ability to ultimately bring both sides together and deliver for working families ensures that his promise made, was truly a promise kept.

Transportation Trades Department:

Kenneth Quinnell
Mon, 11/08/2021 – 11:37

Updated: November 16, 2021 — 12:06 am