(By Mark Gruenberg, Press Associates International) Laborers President Terry O’Sullivan and allies ranging from former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hit Capitol Hill on May 17, lobbying for more – and more permanent – infrastructure dollars. 

Their Infrastructure Week focused on the fact that while Congress finally passed a long-term transportation bill last year, it conveniently left vague how to pay for it. That uncertainty stops road repairs, subway construction, bus routes and airport runways in their tracks – and makes jobs uncertain for construction workers who can undertake those tasks, O’Sullivan said.

Symbolized by collapsing bridges, he state of U.S. infrastructure is so bad that the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the nation a “D+” grade. Meanwhile other nations invest far more in infrastructure. China just announced a 3-year $770 billion plan, for example.

“Investing in our infrastructure is crucial to our safety and economic competitiveness,” O’Sullivan told a press conference. “It goes beyond abstract policies: It’s about good-paying, family-supporting jobs that provide a ladder to the middle class and can’t be exported abroad.”

Since the Laborers help build America, “For those of us in the building trades, investment in a strong, robust and expanded 21st century infrastructure is about leaving a legacy for future generations. The alternative is allowing our infrastructure to crumble around us – strangling our economy, worsening our lives, and endangering us all.” 

Mark Gruenberg is the editor of Press Associates Union News Service, based in Washington, D.C.