Bridges to jobs and a Better Future

by Anne Martens

Working Washington holds banners above 520

Holding a banner reading “Build Bridges” in front of the failing Evergreen Point bridge (SR 520), dozens of Working Washington members joined construction workers from the Seattle Building Trades to send a clear and simple message to our elected officials: it’s time to create good jobs by investing in infrastructure.

Our bridge-building event came on the same day as President Obama spoke from a bridge in Ohio to push for the infrastructure investments that are a key part of the American Jobs Act he has proposed to Congress. This would invest an estimated $741 million and create an estimated 9,600 jobs in Washington state alone — jobs that we desperately need, to fix structures that desperately need fixing.

The members of the building trades who joined Working Washington on Thursday represent the men and women who weld the steel, lay the concrete, and do all the other work that builds our roads & bridges and keeps them safe. But because banks and corporations have drastically cut back their investment in making things, construction workers have been especially hard hit by the bad economy. In many trades, unemployment rates have jumped into the double digits, as good jobs that paid enough to raise a family have simply disappeared.

And yet everywhere you turn, you see broken bridges, unsafe roads, and other infrastructure--schools, hospitals, parks and libraries--that are falling apart. In fact, a recent national report shows that there are a staggering 69,000 bridges across the country which have been deemed structurally deficient by the Federal Highway Administration. This includes the SR 520 bridge where we stood yesterday, and hundreds more across Washington State.

The economy isn’t getting any better on its own, and the big banks and corporations aren’t doing much to help. That’s why we need our elected officials to step up and take action to create the good jobs we need.

There’s work to be done. There’s people to do the work. Let’s tell our elected officials to make it happen: get us to work building bridges.