Laborers Local 271 sees post-pandemic promise through infrastructure spending

Talk of “Building Back Better” and making huge investments into American infrastructure is exciting for building trades members nationwide, as they will be entrusted with completing these massive projects.

Laborers International Union of North America Local 271 Business Manager Michael Sabitoni joined the AWF Union Podcast to discuss the state of work in Rhode Island, how Local 271 is working with employers, infrastructure work and more.

Work in Rhode Island

Sabitoni said that Rhode Island was one of the last states to come out of the previous recession, making the current economic struggles an even greater worry.

Despite their previous track record, Sabitoni believes the state has learned from past experiences and is better equipped to recover. There is promise that the recovery will be easier, as the construction industry has moved forward in the state by following all COVID-19 safety protocols.

Despite the optimism, Sabitoni expressed concerned about a potential slowdown in the near future. With private construction expected to slow, Sabitoni is hopeful that public works projects will fill the void and keep Laborers employed.

An established relationship between the Laborers and employers also aided in keeping Local 271 members and Laborers throughout the state employed, he said.

Rhode Island infrastructure work

Although then candidate Trump made big promises for delivering a nationwide infrastructure plan before he was elected, nothing ever came to fruition. Sabitoni believes the Biden administration will succeed where Trump failed, securing years of quality work for his union.

Improving infrastructure is great for America, he said. The labor cannot be outsourced since taxpayer dollars are used, and the improvements help make the United States a better place to live and work. When infrastructure improvements are done by an experienced workforce and kept up periodically, companies will look at the state more favorably, people will want to move where the infrastructure is better and local economies get a major boost.

At the end of his segment, Sabitoni touched on the opioid epidemic ravaging every corner of the country. He said the situation is the same, if not worse in Rhode Island, but focus on the problem has been drowned out by pandemic related headlines.

He said the Laborers Union and the rest of the building trades commit significant funding to combat the epidemic which includes educating their members about the crisis and how it can affect them and their work.


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