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Published: November, 2016; Vol 13, Num 6

 

Message from the Co-Chairmen:

Infrastructure Investment a Major Focus as 2016 Winds Down

Our fall edition of Lifelines comes on the heels of LIUNA’s 25th general convention, which brought over 4,000 delegates and guests together for four days in Las Vegas. All three of LIUNA’s TriFunds were in attendance, including staff from the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA), the LIUNA Training & Education Fund and the Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET). In addition to handing out promotional items to attendees, TriFund staff talked to delegates and guests about the many services and programs available to help LIUNA District Councils, Local Unions, members and signatory contractors.

After eight years in office, President Obama and his family are preparing to turn over the keys to the White House. Our next president will face many important issues here at home, one of which is a nationwide infrastructure system in dire need of attention. Congress has authorized funding for the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which will provide a much-needed investment in water infrastructure, including emergency funding to help Flint, Michigan and other cities begin replacing outdated lead service lines and treatment facilities. This is a step in the right direction, but more funding will be needed to address the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and other systems.

With a large increase in infrastructure spending likely in the next administration, the next hurdle may be finding enough manpower to go around when work gets underway. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of construction laborers to grow 13 percent over the next eight years. At the same time, an aging construction workforce and an increasing number of retirees has the potential to create a shortage in experienced, skilled workers who know how to work both safely and productively. LIUNA’s constant commitment to organizing and training workers is sure to help meet the coming demand for skilled construction laborers. That demand should also drive the creation of good-paying jobs in the industry and give workers more bargaining power to fight for safer working conditions and improved benefits.

The LHSFNA continues to track how several other important issues are affecting Laborers at work and at home. One such problem is chronic pain and its role in the opioid epidemic, which continues to affect communities and families across the U.S. and Canada. In addition to creating new educational materials about opioid addiction, the Fund is focused on finding non-drug approaches that can help LIUNA members and other workers manage pain safely. The October issue of Lifelines began a series on this topic which continues in this issue and will continue to be explored over the next several months. The safety and well-being of LIUNA members is at the heart of everything we do here at the LHSFNA, and this is one more way to fulfill our mission.

With the holidays around the corner, families will soon be gathering around the dinner table to spend time with relatives and loved ones. Thanksgiving is National Family History Day, and though it might not seem like fun dinner conversation, it’s the perfect time to find out more about your family’s health history. We encourage you to carve out some time this year to discuss this important topic with your relatives. We wish you and yours a safe and enjoyable holiday season as 2016 comes to a close.