March 12, 2014
By Neal Tepel
Washington, D.C. – More than 300 LIUNA leaders from across the country are in Washington this week to have their voices heard by Congress. The local union leaders are scheduled to meet with more than 150 representatives and senators to discuss key issues ranging from the Affordable Care Act to the Highway Bill to the Keystone XL pipeline.
“LIUNA members are angry at inaction in Congress and their anger is bipartisan,” said Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA, the Laborers’ International Union of North America.
Local leaders will urge Congress to:
Pass a well-funded and long long-term Highway Bill that creates jobs fixing our nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems;
Fix the Affordable Care Act, so the multi-employer health care plans many union members depend on aren’t unfairly impacted by the taxes imposed by the law;
Pass comprehensive immigration reform; and
Support the construction of the jobs-creating Keystone XL pipeline.
At the top of LIUNA’s agenda is strengthening the federal role in maintaining, fixing and making safer our nation’s transportation system, which provides work for about 70 percent of LIUNA construction members. In total, adequate investment could put about 8 million people to work over the next four years, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials.
Also the Affordable Care Act, passed by Democrats and signed into law by President Obama, now threatens the multi-employer health insurance plans that millions of working men and women have relied on for years. The law’s reinsurance tax could add more than a billion dollars to the costs in 2014 alone. Since the Administration has yet to fix its interpretation of the law, LIUNA has been working with other unions and employers in support of a bipartisan bill (HR 3489 ) that has been introduced by Representatives Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Dan Lipinski to repeal the Transitional Reinsurance Tax.
And among LIUNA’s longest fought battles has been the struggle to protect immigrant workers from abuse and exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous employers. LIUNA supports the bipartisan Senate-passed bill that awaits further action in the House of Representatives.
As LIUNA leaders make their way to Capitol Hill, O’Sullivan is speaking out, with other allies, in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Designed to be one of the safest ever constructed, the pipeline could be a life line for tens of thousands of workers in need of a job. TransCanada has executed a Project Labor Agreement with the four pipeline construction crafts that guarantee wage and benefit packages that will help more workers earn their way into America’s middle class. Now that the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement shows that the project won’t have a significant impact on the environment, there is no more excuse for further delay.