Citing persistent double-digit unemployment in the construction sector, a coalition of labor groups called Colorado Wants to Work is joining in a “national day of action” today to focus attention on crumbling infrastructure around the country. The group is meeting with supporters under the 6th Avenue Bridge in Denver, which is one of 145 bridges in the Denver metro area “red tagged” as structurally deficient by Transportation for America.
“While the national unemployment rate is 9 percent, the construction trades are suffering with an over 13 percent unemployment rate,” Neal Hall, business manager of the Building and Construction Trades, said in a release. “Our infrastructure is crumbling, and the people best suited to fix it are ready and willing to take on that job.”
The cross-country day of action is being spearheaded by a group called Rebuild the Dream headed by Van Jones. The group announced its Nov. 17 events months ago and latched onto Occupy Wall Street as that movement has persisted and grown. The groups join in demanding lawmakers prioritize the needs of the vast struggling middle class instead of more exclusively serving the interests of the nation’s top earners.
“We will all take to the streets… to declare an ‘economic emergency’ in every corner of the country, in all 50 states. We’ll gather in front of bridges that need work, understaffed schools, and other community sites that highlight our failed economy. Wherever you are, this is the day to declare an economic emergency in your community,” the Rebuild the Dream site declares.
At an event in October, Colorado Wants to Work was more specific in its policy goals. Leaders demanded Republican lawmakers sign on to the American Jobs Act proposed by President Obama, which has been rejected by Congress in the weeks since.
Meetings at or under bridges are planned in cities that include Chicago, Houston, L.A. and Philadelphia.
The day of action won’t just focus on infrastructure. Affiliated Occupy movement protesters are tying the problem of unemployment and Capitol Hill priorities to the finance sector. In Manhattan, demonstrators rallied outside the New York Stock Exchange this morning.