On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), our 33 unions, and millions of frontline transportation workers, I urge you to support the confirmation of Pete Buttigieg to Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Nearly a year since COVID-19 first touched American shores, the deadly virus continues to ravage communities across the country. Our nation’s frontline transportation workforce remains squarely in harm’s way. Whether it is in public transit, aviation, construction, maritime, school and intercity bus service, postal service, passenger and freight rail, ports, or manufacturing, our workers have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis. They have worked through the worst of this pandemic with no public health protections from their government. Thousands have paid for that inaction with their health, and thousands more with their lives. They have faced down economic uncertainty in their industries every single day, not knowing if or when they may be told to stop coming to work. But through it all, they have continued to show up and do their jobs because they know that America is counting on them.
Making matters worse is the fact that our country is relying on a transportation system and infrastructure that has been grossly neglected and needs significant repair, modernization, and expansion. While our members who build, operate, and maintain our vast transportation network have long known this to be true, the COVID-19 crisis has only exposed these underlying problems, which are a result of decades of underinvestment and regulatory malpractice.
The American people need and deserve leaders in Washington who have proven experience and who will prioritize the needs of those who are seeing us through the COVID-19 crisis. That includes leaders like Pete Buttigieg.
During his confirmation hearing, Pete Buttigieg assured lawmakers that workers across all modes of transportation will be protected from COVID-19. He spoke of bold, long-term investments in our transportation system that will showcase American ingenuity, rebuild our middle class, and make our infrastructure the envy of the world. He promised to ensure America’s aviation system remains the safest in the world by implementing long-overdue congressional mandates. He spoke of using tax-payer dollars to maximize U.S. job creation by promoting Buy America policies and the Jones Act. And he made the direct and clear connection between smart, thoughtful transportation policies and union job creation.
Protecting America’s frontline transportation workers, rebuilding our aging infrastructure, and ensuring we are well-positioned to restore our economy once the COVID-19 crisis is behind us must be front and center in the months ahead. Pete Buttigieg clearly demonstrated that he has the capacity as a leader and the vision to ensure we rise to meet these challenges. TTD urges Pete Buttigieg’s swift and bipartisan confirmation so that we can build back better and finally get back to the business of prioritizing the health and safety of American workers.