Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Creating High-Quality Jobs Through Infrastructure Legislation
Press Release

RELEASE: Creating High-Quality Jobs Through Infrastructure Legislation

Washington, D.C. — As Congress debates the Moving Forward Act, legislation that would invest $1.5 trillion to modernize America’s physical infrastructure, a new issue brief from the Center for American Progress explores how policymakers can ensure that the jobs that are created through infrastructure legislation are high quality, available to all Americans, and, ultimately, able to maximize the benefits of this spending.

The brief develops six steps to ensuring that infrastructure investment creates good jobs:

  1. Pay decent wages and provide quality benefits: Jobs should be required to pay prevailing wages with a floor of at least $15 per hour and come with basic benefits such as paid sick leave.
  2. Prevent discrimination and comply with equal pay protections: At the start of the coronavirus crisis, the Trump administration announced that it would undo long-standing requirements to ensure that contractors do not discriminate against workers. Congress should require the administration to restart anti-discrimination reporting and enforcement for all recipients of coronavirus funds.
  3. Expand access to apprenticeship and targeted hire programs: Legislation should be structured in a way that increases high-quality apprenticeships and hiring of local residents, women, people of color, workers with disabilities, and other disadvantaged individuals.
  4. Respect workers’ rights to join a union: All companies receiving federal infrastructure funds should be covered by existing collective bargaining protections for contract workers. Congress should also require recipients to comply with the Protecting the Right to Organize Act.
  5. Comply with existing workplace laws: Studies have found that government contractors face few consequences when they break federal workplace laws. The government should monitor and enforce fund recipients’ compliance with these laws.
  6. Adhere to “Buy America” rules that create jobs in the United States: Laws designed to ensure that the federal government purchases American-made products are often poorly enforced. Agencies must do a better job of administering existing domestic content preference laws.

“Infrastructure spending can have the dual benefits of creating much-needed bridges and highways and also stimulating the economy by creating jobs,” said Karla Walter, senior director of Employment Policy at CAP. “In order to maximize the benefits of infrastructure spending, lawmakers must be intentional about creating good jobs that pay well, are available to all working Americans, and provide robust benefits and essential worker protections. This will not only help everyday Americans get back to work but also ensure that infrastructure legislation becomes a catalyst for economic recovery.”

Read the issue brief: “Getting Americans Back to Work and Good Jobs” by Karla Walter

For more information or to speak to an expert, please contact Julia Cusick at [email protected].

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.