The AFL-CIO says it is seeking to pull together at least $10 billion in private and public funds over the next five years to invest in infrastructure projects, with the money coming from pension funds, federal, state and local governments, contractors, financial companies and non-profit organizations.

The plan, which union officials announced on June 29 at a Clinton Global Initiative meeting, also includes spending at least $20 million in union-related funds over the next 12 months to make energy-efficiency improvements to public and private buildings. The AFL-CIO will kick off that effort by issuing a request for proposals to do an energy-efficiency upgrade of its Washington, D.C., headquarters building.

In addition, over the coming year, the labor organization is aiming to train 40,000 new apprentices in specialty welding and other "green technology" construction skills and also provide upgrades and certifications for 100,000 other "mid-career" construction workers.

Construction's unemployment rate stood at 16.3% for May, the highest among major industry sectors, and was well above the overall national jobless rate of 9.1%.

AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Dept. President Mark Ayers said, "The time is now to become intensely focused on the creation of jobs, and America's building trades unions are ready, willing and able to work with any and all partners to map out a multi-year plan of infrastructure investment and make it the centerpiece of an ongoing economic recovery program."