In these modern times, the definition of infrastructure has changed. Infrastructure is no longer limited to roads and bridges, but now includes communications systems, the electrical grid and access to quality internet.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) are advocating for a sweeping infrastructure plan that includes state-of-the-art communication systems. CWA District 4 Administrative Director Frank Mathews described what he believes should be included in a federal infrastructure bill and more on America’s Work Force Union Podcast.
Building better broadband and investing in telecommunications
President Joe Biden insisted broadband expansion be one of the central themes of any infrastructure plan. The technology is needed, as was evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. When students and workers were forced to work or learn from home, many struggled without a quality internet connection.
Mathews said the investment needs to be made in all areas of the country, not just affluent areas. Rural areas struggle with broadband access because of a lack of providers. Similarly, urban areas struggle to find a quality provider to offer affordable services as well.
He suggested a public education campaign to inform legislators and community members about the importance of broadband expansion. Doing so may help some understand why the investment is needed.
A digital divide exists in telecommunications, as well as broadband access. Mathews urged companies to invest in American telecommunications jobs. Instead of moving these jobs out of the country, companies should find ways to expand access to these jobs to Americans who are struggling to find work.
Working on quality infrastructure
Mathews said the best way to ensure quality infrastructure is built is having the building trades unions involved. Union tradesmen and tradeswomen are trained to work safely, on-time and at a high level of skill.
When a public investment is made on capital projects, it is imperative to use the best trained and skilled workforce. Paying workers the Prevailing Wage and using union labor for projects is the best way to protect the public’s investment.