Job creation in an election year was the top priority for speakers and attendees at the construction unions' annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C., on April 30. Members of the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Dept. looked for signs of optimism not just from keynote speaker President Obama but also from newly elected President Sean McGarvey, making his first major appearance leading two million union workers since the sudden death of his predecessor, Mark Ayers, on April 8.
Although the economy is showing signs of improvement, construction unemployment remains at roughly 17%. Given the state of the industry, President Obama's speech highlighted federal transportation funding, which continues to operate on short-term extensions in the absence of multiyear legislation, as a critical means of getting union labor back to work.