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Building Trades: Transportation plan in Senate is ‘disappointing’

newgent-leeLee Newgent, Executive Secretary of the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, is distributing this letter to state legislators regarding the State Senate transportation proposal released last week:

(Feb. 18, 2015) — The Washington State Building and Trades Council appreciates the amount of work done by Senators King and Hobbs to produce a 2015 Transportation Package. The Building Trades understand and respect the challenges inherent in producing a Transportation Package that will work for everyone. The Building Trades have held numerous discussions about the ideals and concerns brought forward by the affected parties. That said, the 2015 Transportation Package Proposal is disappointing on a number of issues.

After working with Legislators for the last three years to produce a Transportation Package we are concerned about rehashing demands from previous discussions. The Building Trades are emerging from a difficult time in our history where we faced unemployment rates as high as 60% for some trades. The time to address these repackaged, ideological demands on labor is past. When our need to work was greatest we did not get a Transportation Package and our members suffered. Our members faced foreclosure, divorce, and economic insecurity and did not get relief from a Transportation Package. So this continued push for concessions from Labor is insulting at best.

The Building Trades face greater costs than most industries when it comes to a Gas Tax. We travel many miles to work on Transportation Projects. We support a gas tax increase but it is a form of double jeopardy to pay a higher gas tax and then be asked to concede to demands that undermine apprenticeship and prevailing wage policies.

highway-constructionOur members understand the need for expanded transit alternatives. We support the Sound Transit 3 proposal and would like to see the proposed funding restored to levels of the original request. Now is the time to invest in transit. The Building Trades believe that it is time for conversations regarding the environment to move forward. We support the principles contained in the Governor’s Carbon Policy. The Building Trades strongly believe that this will be the last gas tax and we need to look at future alternative funding solutions. The inclusion of language regarding multi-modal transportation funding alternatives is overreaching and unneeded.

There are a number of issues presented in the Transportation Package that we do support. We understand the need for electronic reporting of prevailing wage surveys, streamlining the permit and EIS process, and the need for storm water compliance and fish culverts. Both the permit processes and water proposals have issues that continue to need to be addressed.

We are confident that the Transportation Package, and our concerns, will be addressed and discussed during the individual bill hearings. The Building Trades strongly support the goal of passing a Transportation Package during the 2015 Legislative Session.

Lee Newgent, Executive Secretary
Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO

ALSO at The Stand — Ideological provisions doom Senate transportation plan (by Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council)

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