Monday, August 1, 2011

Endless Road Construction in the Valley? You can thank Obama's Union Job Security Act

Have you noticed how there is more road construction than usual lately, which never seems to end? In some states it has gotten so bad their departments of transportation have set up road closure email alerts on each highway. This is a direct result of President Obama’s stimulus spending. Last summer, Obama proposed spending $50 billion on highways, bridges, transit, high-speed rail and airports. During his State of the Union speech in January, he declared, "we will aim to put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges.”
The federal stimulus bill, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, included nearly $50 billion extra in 2009-2010 for transportation projects. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the states have used the money to create 15,000 projects. The stimulus also included a $2.1 billion discretionary grant program called Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER), which provides funding for transportation projects that create jobs, provide assistance for those affected by the economic downturn, show “environmental stewardship,” and other objectives that are not reflective of actual transportation needs and so are not held to the same level of financial accountability. Representative John Mica (R-FL), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has criticized the federal Department of Transportation for picking and choosing “executive earmarks” behind closed doors instead of sending the money to areas in real need of roadwork.
Obama is providing people with jobs, but it is union members and at an enormous cost to everyone else. Soon after Obama took office, he signed Executive Order 13502, which essentially forces contractors who bid on contracts worth $25 million or more to submit to union representation for their employees,known as project labor agreements (PLAs). He rescinded a Bush executive order from 2001 that prohibited PLAs on federal projects.
This is unfair considering 85% of the workers in the construction industry are not union members, and union representation increases project costs by up to 20 percent. According to the Cato Institute, union membership has been declining over the years. In 1983, 27.5 percent of construction workers were in a union. By 2008, that had decreased to 15.6 percent.

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