On his monthly appearance on the America’s Workforce Union Podcast, Dorsey Hager, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, spoke about the infrastructure bill and what its provisions to fund Amtrak and broadband internet expansion will mean for Ohioans.
When it comes to the infrastructure bill, Hager is particularly excited about the expansion of Amtrak to construct passenger rail lines connecting Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Once completed, this project could help alleviate congestion problems by taking traffic off the roads.
Hager would like to see the rail expansion one day expand to other Ohio cities including Akron and Marietta.
He also spoke about $65 billion in the bill earmarked to fund broadband internet expansion. This is key to bridging the digital divide, which is essential to providing economic prosperity, particularly for rural Ohio. Facebook and Google are building multi-billion dollar data centers in Ohio, and broadband internet access will further encourage this trend, Hager said. If Ohio can bridge the digital divide and get more people trained through increased educational programs, it will only continue to make Columbus and central Ohio a bigger selling point to attract more technology companies.
Besides the infrastructure bill, Hager also talked about a recent visit by Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh to Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 189, an event Hager personally attended. Harris and Walsh toured the Local 189 JATC and touted the importance of the infrastructure bill and what it will mean for unions.
Hager said he has never heard a presidential administration in his lifetime mention the words apprenticeship and union as often the Biden administration. They recognize what registered union apprenticeship programs can do for people by ending generational poverty and providing a path to the middle class. It is refreshing to see, he added.
Lastly, Hager and AWF host Ed “Flash” Ferenc spoke about the Driving Futures program, which trains men and women to work in the transportation industry. The program helps members of the underserved community overcome job barriers and receive training to begin good-paying careers in transportation. Many of these jobs have a starting salary of $65,000 per year, as program participants often go on to work for Sigma, UPS and other trucking companies in an industry that regularly faces high demand for more drivers.
Listen to the entire interview.