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Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx speaks at the rally.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx speaks at the rally.

“Build America, Move America” was the theme of a boisterous rally outside the AFL-CIO headquarters (two blocks from the White House) May 15 featuring three union leaders and the head of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Transportation Trades Department President Edward Wytkind and Building and Construction Trades Department Secretary-Treasurer Brent Booker all agreed the nation’s infrastructure has been ignored for way too long and should to be fixed now. Maritime needs placed high on their call for action.

Besides the looming problem of crumbling ports, roads, rails, bridges and more, infrastructure repairs would mean immediate jobs – getting people back to work as productive, tax-paying members of their communities.

“We have to make this an electoral issue,’ declared Trumka to the hundreds gathered. “We’ve been talking long enough – it’s time for action!

“Putting money in roads and bridges is like planting seed corn,” the AFL-CIO president pointed out. “Investing in good jobs yields a good return. When you put seed in the ground, you get something to harvest. When you put cement in the ground, you get roads. When you put steel in the ground, you get train tracks.”

Foxx added, “I know infrastructure creates jobs, not because I read it in a book, but because I have seen it.

The secretary went on to say, “We tell Congress to be ambitious because our country is ambitious, because our workers are ambitious. We don’t want to go back, we need to move forward!”

In his remarks, Wytkind noted, “One in ten workers operate, build and maintain our transportation system. These are the types of jobs Americans need if we want to reduce the jobless rate and reverse the crisis of stagnant wages that so many are facing.”

He stated that U.S. harbors “are being left behind as global commerce brings us mega-sized vessels that threaten to overwhelm our resource-starved ports.”

Booker told the audience that an investment of $1.3 billion next year “would add 29,000 jobs and $2 billion to economic growth while reducing the deficit by $200 million, according to a new report from Standards & Poor.”

In kicking off the rally, Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO President Joslyn Williams roll called the many different unions (which encompassed several affiliated with the MTD) in the gathering, including “let’s hear it for the maritime workers.”