Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 11 Business Manager Dennis Desmond joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss the current pro-union climate in Washington that has been fostered by the Biden Administration, including the appointment of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who has a strong union background as a member of LiUNA and as the former head of the Greater Boston Building Trades Unions
He also spoke about how immigrant laborers are often taken advantage of by non-union contractors in the Washington D.C. area and how union leaders are advocating for a fair wage and decent benefits for these workers.
Lastly, Desmond discussed why Congress should prioritize the $1.3 trillion infrastructure bill and pass it before getting mired down in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill.
Washington D.C. non-union contractors take advantage of immigrants
Desmond talked about Walsh’s LiUNA background and how he speaks directly to the people who do the hard work. Desmond said Walsh understands they are the backbone of America and as Labor Secretary, will stand up for them.
Unfortunately, contractors in Washington D.C. have a history of taking advantage of immigrant workers. Unions offer a path to the middle class with wages that are 100 percent higher than non-union wages in the building sector, which sometimes rely on immigrants for labor, said Desmond.
LiUNA officials are working to educate local officials about the state of working conditions for some of these non-union workers. They are also recruiting immigrant workers so they can enjoy better wages and benefits as union members, he added.
Desmond calls passage of $1.3 trillion infrastructure bill a priority
The recently stalled talks on the $1.3 trillion infrastructure bill have been frustrating, Desmond said. No one can argue the bill is not needed, yet politicians cannot find a way to get it done. He acknowledged some politicians are holding out for the larger $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, but the smaller infrastructure bill is too important to let languish.
The bill needs to get done because it is a matter of public safety. America’s bridges and roads are crumbling, and this proposed legislation cannot wait.