WASHINGTON, DC -- President Bill Clinton made a surprise appearance in front of over 2,300 national, state and local building and construction trade union leaders who had assembled for the first of two days of strategic discussions relating to the continued advancement of market share gains for the union construction industry.
Sean McGarvey, President of North America's Building Trades Unions, opened the conference with a keynote address that was focused on the strategic elements that will be necessary to continue the momentum being realized by the union construction trades, who increased their collective ranks by 95,000 members in 2013.
"Our unions," said McGarvey, "possess the unmatched ability to bring bottom line value to construction owners and end-users through the formal development and training of the safest, most highly skilled and productive construction workforce in the world, while maintaining a commitment to build partnerships that lead to the creation of pathways for people of all walks of life who deserve an opportunity to achieve a stable and secure life in the American middle class."
McGarvey also presented the Building Trades' "Hat's Off" award to Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Weingarten was honored for the work that she and AFT have done to leverage public employee pension assets for the expressed purpose of funding badly needed improvements to our nation's infrastructure.
"Thank you so much for this award. It really means a lot to me but I have to share the honor with Sean and with you, North America’s Building Trades Unions. You are an incredible partner in our endeavor to help rebuild America by investing public pension funds in job-creating infrastructure projects."
President Bill Clinton's surprise appearance coincided with the presentation of the "Hat's Off" award to Ms. Weingarten. The Building Trades, along with AFT and the AFL-CIO, have been working with the Clinton Global Initiative to invest in projects like fixing roads and bridges, expanding the power grid, and retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient.
“What we are doing is just scratching the surface,” said President Clinton. “It’s the proper way to invest in our economy because it works. These types of investments are a better job growth strategy than financial transactions.”
In 2011, the Building Trades, AFT and the AFL-CIO announced at CGI the goal of investing $10 billion of public pension funds over a five year period, in a sound, fiduciary way, in infrastructure projects that would deliver solid returns.
To date, that objective is being realized, two years ahead of schedule, with allocations so far of $8.4 billion, which have created over tens of thousands of union jobs.
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North America’s Building Trades Unions are an alliance of 14 national and international unions that collectively represent over 3 million skilled craft professionals in the United States and Canada