Union believes construction boom will rebuild America’s economy.

General President of the United Association William P. Hite recently announced his support for President-Elect Barack Obama’s stimulus plan. Hite believes the plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure holds the answer to the current weakened economy, and pledged the full support of his 350,000-member association to the initiative.

“A better America is something we all want and something our children and grandchildren deserve,” said Hite in his statement. “It’s our obligation to find sensible, workable solutions to get us there. Barack Obama is promoting a national rebuilding plan for energy, hospitals, schools, communication systems, roads and bridges, ports and other vital transportation systems. We should all work toward helping our new President to achieve these objectives.”

Hite noted that more construction work nationwide means more paychecks for more Americans, which in turn will mean more spending and an economic boost. “Rebuilding America’s infrastructure will revitalize the economy, restore our country’s competitive abilities, create huge numbers of strong new jobs.”

Hite also believes that the effectiveness of Obama’s plan will lie in the reallocation of America’s funds: “These investments in America’s infrastructure will be funded in part by re-channeling tens of billions of dollars now being spent in Iraq,” said Hite. Obama’s recovery plan will create more opportunities for career-seekers to enter the construction industry, said Hite. This new focus on construction may fill the shrinking skilled labor pool. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average construction worker is 47 years old, and, as aging Baby Boomers retire or leave the industry, they take much-needed skills with them. The BLS estimates that the construction field will need to attract 240,000 workers each year to replace those leaving the workforce, while still allowing for industry growth.

In his Radio Address on the Economy Dec. 6, 2008, President-elect Obama outlined elements of his plans to rebuild America, and construction was at the top of the list:
    “First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient,” Obama said. “Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.”
“Just as Barack is committed to rebuilding America,” Hite said, “so is the United Association committed to training workers needed to do the job.” The UA has made an annual commitment of more than $170 million to training. These funds are replenished by the UA members themselves. UA training is jointly administered with their construction industry allies, union mechanical contractors.  

The UA workforce, Hite added, will play a major role in updating America’s federal buildings. “Work of that nature requires a high level of training and security from a workforce that is available and readily replenished,” he said.