Let’s Get America Working

(Washington, D.C.) — The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is unveiling a new “Let’s Get America Working” campaign in advance of the 2016 election that will encourage both Democratic and Republican lawmakers to endorse a pro-worker platform.

At the center of the platform is the need for this country to invest in infrastructure, which in turn will create good jobs for everyday Americans. Working on transportation, energy and water projects will put thousands to work in construction jobs across the country. It will also improve roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure, which in turn will help business and improve the U.S. economy.

The U.S. Labor Department’s own statistics support the Teamsters’ initiative. The median union worker earns more than $200 a week more than the median non-union worker. That’s an extra $10,000 a year that goes into the pockets of union workers. These jobs also offer health benefits and retirement security.

“While unemployment is down, the vast majority of jobs being created pay low wages,” Teamster General President Jim Hoffa said. “We can stop this trend and create good-paying union jobs if government invests in our nation’s workforce.”

Infrastructure presents an opportunity to break the political gridlock. Congress in late July approved a three-month extension for spending on transportation projects that provides a temporary patch until the end of October for the continuing issue of road and rail funding. But it is not a real solution.

Since 2008, Congress has transferred more than $62 billion from the general fund to keep the Highway Trust Fund afloat, and it has been more than a decade since Congress has passed a highway bill more than two years in duration. Meanwhile, the transportation system continues to crumble and the safety of those who work and travel along the vast network of U.S. roads and rails is being jeopardized. Our nation’s failure to maintain and improve our infrastructure is costing Americans more and more.

There also is a significant need to move forward with a broader agenda that puts U.S. workers first. That means standing up against lousy trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that send American jobs overseas; protecting workers’ rights to form unions and collectively bargain; increasing affordability of college and vocational schools; and ensuring retirement and pension security for working families.

Lawmakers need to remember that dollars invested in education, job training and supporting retirement for those who worked hard all their lives helps not only individuals, but our society as a whole. These are promises each generation in this country has made to the next and we can’t forget it.

But if this nation is going to improve the lives of its citizens, Congress needs to advance bipartisan policies that will encourage good job growth. And it must put the current and future generations of workers in a position to succeed in the workforce by giving them the skills they need.

There was a time when all these issues weren’t partisan issues – they were American values, something everyone could support. But government is broken. Partisan bickering has replaced finding solutions. That’s why it’s essential for the Teamsters and like-minded allies all over the country to join together and push this message with lawmakers, colleagues, friends and family.

If elected officials from both parties want to rebuild and repair the trust between government and workers, they need to reinvest in people that have and can continue to make this country great. Better pay will lead to more spending and improve workers’ quality of life. That way everyone wins.

Let’s Get America Working! Now is the time to Build, Repair and Maintain America!

Fires Have Made California Cities Top World’s List of Most Polluted Places

San Francisco, Stockton and Sacramento were recorded as the world’s three “most polluted cities” on Friday due to the wildfires raging in northern California, CNN reported on Sunday.

Data from organizations that monitor air quality worldwide showed that the massive blazes had caused those parts of California to have worse air than the areas that usually top the most problematic international smog spots in India and China.

The problem has become so bad that schools and public transportation shut down in many of the areas.

“It appears to be the worst air quality ever experienced in San Francisco,” said University of Washington Prof. Dan Jaffe, who described the situation as “an air quality emergency.”

Experts said the smoke could destroy decades of progress on pollution, with Harvard University Prof. Daniel Jacob telling CNN that “We have made tremendous efforts and investment to clean up our air with considerable benefits for public health. But now it’s like we’re getting stabbed in the back with those wildfires.”

Jacob said that particulate matter (PM) is the “number one environmental killer in the world,” emphasizing that “the levels that are present in those areas affected by wildfires are like you might expect on a very polluted day in China or India.”

Jacob said “We give people advice to say indoors and to reduce exercise and things like that, but those don’t mitigate the problem too much,” especially in places like San Francisco where many people don’t have air conditioning.

He explained that without any sort of “controlled system” to filter air, a building doesn’t give much protection against PM.

However, when air is properly filtered, people can “reduce their PM exposure by about 90 percent” by being inside, he said.

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