Congressman wants to highlight need for investments in infrastructure
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 29, 2018) — Rep. Derek Kilmer has announced that he will bring the President of the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, Mark Martinez, to advocate for infrastructure investments and the jobs that come with them at President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union. The president will deliver the speech on Tuesday, Jan. 30.
“Investments in infrastructure in our region mean great jobs,” Kilmer said. “We’re losing ground to other countries, but we can beat them in the long run if we invest now. In addition to fixing the region’s roads and bridges, the government needs to expand rural broadband and equip workers with the skills to compete in the changing economy.”
Mark Martinez is the President of Washington’s Building and Construction Trades Council. This year, he’s going to focus on expanding the ranks of workers in the state’s registered apprenticeships to veterans, young people, women and people of color. He’s also advocating for people with criminal records who have served their time and are ready to get to work.
“No matter who you are or what your background is, if you’re willing to work hard and you get the right training, you can make a great living in the building trades,” Martinez said. “Our state needs President Trump and Congress to deliver so we can get more people on job sites and create a pipeline of workers that sustains the trades well into the future. This is particularly important for the region’s veterans and young people.”
At last Wednesday’s the Horizons Economic Forecast hosted by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, Kilmer called for infrastructure investments and made the case that they’re required if towns on the Olympic Peninsula and others like them across the country are going to compete in the global economy. He compared the importance of infrastructure and workforce investments, such as the ones made in the Kilmer-supported CHANCE in Tech Act, to those required to beat the Soviet Union to the moon after it became the first nation to launch a satellite into orbit.
“Now, more than ever, nations around the globe are racing to innovate and making infrastructure investments to win in this economy. We need a new national effort to take the lead.” Kilmer said at the event. “Our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling and it is time to invest.”
According to CNBC, the president is expected to ask Congress for $200 billion in federal spending on infrastructure in his State of the Union. The White House thinks that could lead to more than $1 trillion in state, local and private financing.
Kilmer is encouraged by reports that the White House plans to expand access to high speed internet in rural areas. He has repeatedly called for better broadband access. He’s working on legislation to address the issue and has highlighted the importance of it, particularly for tribal communities where everything from students taking state-mandated tests in tribal schools, to doing business and selling products is affected by poor internet options.
Martinez has been a strong advocate for the workers who will fill the jobs created by infrastructure investments. In addition to serving as the President of Washington’s Building and Construction Trades Council, he is the Executive Secretary of the Pierce County Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO. Martinez spent 20 years working as a roofer, and spent 10 years as Business Manager of Roofers Local 153.
Martinez and the Washington Building and Construction Trades Council advocate for apprenticeship programs that help veterans after they’ve left the armed forces. Programs include the Helmets to Hardhats program, and apprenticeships in plumbing through Veterans in Piping, sheet metal through SMART Heroes, and painting through the Painters & Allied Trades Veterans Program.
Apprenticeships are a large part of the Washington Building and Construction Trades Council’s agenda for 2018, but not all of it. The organization is also expected to advocate for the rights of organized labor and against a national push to prevent organizing in the workplace. Locally, the focus includes the expansions of projects that benefit commuters such as Tacoma LINK light rail, other transportation projects, and smart zoning that encourages economic growth. The group also plans to introduce 2,500 high schoolers to the trades through Pierce County’s Career Day, which will include representatives of the construction, manufacturing, transportation and utility industries.
More information on the Washington Building and Construction Trades is available here.