January 27, 2009
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Harry Reid
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid:
The current economic crisis has shaken the economy to the core, destabilizing every sector and creating incredible hardship for millions of Americans, including over 100,000 United Steelworkers members who have been laid-off or lost their jobs. On behalf of the United Steelworkers (USW), I urge the Congress to pass this bold and far-reaching stimulus package that saves and creates good jobs for American workers and rebuilds our nation’s infrastructure as it rebuilds our economy while helping those most in need. USW is grateful for your leadership so far in this effort to craft effective legislation, is heartened by the emphasis on infrastructure improvements in the legislation currently under consideration, and hopes to continue to play a constructive role as the process moves forward.
Spent correctly, federal investment in new sources of clean energy, as well as the reconstruction and modernization of America’s roads, bridges, transit systems, waterways, schools, public buildings, and electrical grid can create millions of new jobs. Infrastructure projects stretching over several years will create not only construction jobs, but have the potential to create a huge expansion in manufacturing to meet the demand for materials. This increase in demand is sorely needed by a manufacturing base that has been battered by years of bad trade policy, undercut by unscrupulous acts by its international competitors, and dealt a harsh blow by the current economic climate. It should be the goal of Congress to insure that, to the extent possible, those projects are built with domestically-sourced materials.
Workers in staggering numbers are being laid off every day as businesses react to decreasing demand. The assurance of a market for goods that the Economic Recovery Package will provide is the incentive employers need to expand production to meet that demand, creating good manufacturing jobs. Further, that increased production and supply will allow American manufacturers to rebuild their economies of scale, allowing them to be even more competitive in the future, allowing more production increases and more good jobs. This sustainable industrial expansion should be the goal of Congress and the American people.
President Obama spoke last week of the capacity of Americans to, when faced with a common danger, rise to meet it. USW and millions of other workers stand ready to meet that challenge and rebuild our nation and ensure our long-term prosperity, we therefore urge Congress to swiftly pass HR 1, the American Economic Recovery & Economic Reinvestment Plan. American manufacturing built up the middle class once, and it can do it again. It just needs bold, forward-looking leadership to help make it happen. Again, I thank you for the leadership you have shown so far, and hope the USW can continue to provide a constructive and positive contribution in the weeks and months ahead.
Leo W. Gerard
c: U.S. House of Representatives