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A Labor Perspective: ‘Now Is The Time For Organized Labor To Clearly Weigh In’ - ‘Defining What Unions Want To See’ In Infrastructure & Sustainability Investments

Published Thursday, January 20, 2022
by Bill Raisch Via
A Labor Perspective: ‘Now Is The Time For Organized Labor To Clearly Weigh In’ - ‘Defining What Unions Want To See’ In Infrastructure & Sustainability Investments

LaborPress Editor’s Note: Bill Raisch serves as Director of the National Labor & Management Conference and as Executive Director of the International Center for Enterprise Preparedness at New York University where he advances collaborative efforts to address shared challenges to our organizations, communities and the Nation.


Trillions of dollars will be spent by both the Public and Private Sectors going forward on infrastructure and sustainability investments.

There will be great leeway in where and how these funds are to be invested.  

What criteria should there be for selecting, building and operating these investments so that infrastructure not only addresses its core functions (transportation, communications, water, etc.) but also advances critical imperatives in the economic development, environmental and social arenas?

Unions and the wider Labor-Management Community have the opportunity and arguably the obligation to influence these investments for the betterment of Workers and wider society.

Now is the time to clearly define what Labor and the Labor-Management Community want reflected so that these funds serve as catalysts for social and economic revival.  

What are the priorities in quality job creation, better wages, Worker training, Made in America materials, collective bargaining, ending systemic discrimination and other imperatives?

How can they be addressed in our infrastructure renewal and expansion?

The National Labor & Management Conference will bring together key leaders of Labor to discuss, identify and call-out key principles which should guide these investments.  

The February 2022 forum explore how Organized Labor can inform both Public Sector investments in infrastructure and private sector investments in wider sustainability including both infrastructure and other initiatives.  

A final summary is planned as a foundation for wider action.

On the Public Sector side, the upcoming $1 trillion plus in Federal investment in U.S. infrastructure will predominantly be distributed to state governments which will have great latitude in how these funds are spent.  

Additionally, local municipal financing will continue to fund the development of substantial infrastructure as well.

In the wider market, to date there is $35 trillion invested in sustainable assets worldwide - $1 of every $3 managed globally.  

“Sustainability” is now a major investment priority.  

Sustainability has three core E-S-G elements: Environmental, Social and Governance.  

While many have focused on the “environmental” element of sustainability, “social and governance” are elements that Organized Labor has clear standing to help define applicable criteria and in the process influence where these investments are made, how they are developed/built and ultimately operated.

Now is the time for Organized Labor to clearly weigh in on how we can make our infrastructure and wider sustainability investments serve as catalysts to advance key priorities of American Workers. 

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