Public Investment & Philadelphia Labor
Building & Construction Workers Endorse Wolf and Stack
El Hispano/J.Smith
Philadelphia – “It’s going to be beautiful,” Chris Cruz told El Hispano as he exited the fenced-in construction site of the Dilworth Plaza Renovation Project.
A $50 million dollar project supported by federal, state, city grants and Septa investments, a slate walkway and trees aligning the perimeter are early glimpses of what will eventually be a burnished and revitalized west side of City Hall, linking it seamlessly with the Septa’s 15th Street station and Amtrak’s Suburban Station..
A Cement Mixer for Dan Lepore & Sons Co., Mr. Cruz gladly doffed the heavy protective clothing he is required to wear despite working days when the temperature is above 90 degrees. Working on the Dilworth site since March, he spoke with certainty about the long-term impact of the renovation: “When we’re finished it’s going bring a lot of tourists and a lot of money to this city.”
Looking for an administration in Harrisburg that will promote similar public works and infrastructure improvement projects for Philadelphia, Allentown, Reading and elsewhere, the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council recently announced the “unanimous” endorsement of Democrat Tom Wolf for Governor and running mate Mike Stack for Lt. Governor.
“Our members, who are employed in virtually every community of Pennsylvania by more than 3,500 construction contractors and subcontractors have spoken,” said Union President Frank A. Sirianni, “and they have told us with a forceful clarity that Tom Wolf represents a shining voice in the battle to make our Commonwealth’s government responsive to the hopes, needs and aspirations of working people in Pennsylvania.”
Describing Democrats Tom Wolf and Mike Stack as voices of “welcoming reason,” who will return “fairness and progress to our society,” Mr. Sirianni referred specifically to what changes he would expect in a Wolf and Stack administration: from strengthening communities through wages for “working families,” and improved “access to healthcare for all, to “rationally protecting our resources,” and “enhancing the quality of education” for children.
The Dilworth Plaza development was expected to employ more than 800 construction workers. According to several workers on site, many of the workers are invisible to the passing public because they “ are working underground,” and “many of them are Latino.”
While Latinos nationally have grown to nearly 16 percent of the total population, they represent more than 20 percent of some of the nation’s most essential industries: from construction and extraction jobs, to farming, fishing, cleaning, food preparation and transportation of goods.
In calling for more investment in infrastructure projects, Tom Wolf has noted that the poor condition of the state’s roads costs individuals and businesses up to $3 billion.
Besides seeking to leverage private dollars and be an aggressive “advocate” for federal infrastructure investment, as well as demanding “more flexibility in how those dollars are used,” Mr. Wolf stressed the fact that 30,000 good paying jobs are produced for every $1 billion invested in infrastructure.
That infrastructure investment will include significant support for mass transit systems throughout the state, according to Stack Legislative Aide Juvencio Gonzalez, who declined to comment on the campaign, but referred to the Senators past record.
“For centuries Americans were builders (of) canals, railroads, bridges (and) a massive interstate highway system,” said PA Sen. Mike Stack at a June,2014 hearing on transportation. “The vision of our ancestors fueled our economy and created the world’s largest middle-class.”
Gov.Tom Corbett has also called for a multi-billion infrastructure repair program which he says will produce 50,000 jobs.
The most recent survey of Pennsylvania roads and bridges revealed that 20 percent of state-owned bridges (4,449) and one-third (2,234) of county-owned bridges were structurally deficient; and that 37 percent of state and locally owned roads were in “poor or mediocre” condition.