Statement of Margaret Blackshere, President, AFL-CIO

 

My name is Margaret Blackshere, and I am the president of the Illinois AFL≠CIO. I am also a member of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition. The AFL-CIO, Central Labor Councils, including the Chicago Federation of Labor, and many of the affiliates are part of this organized effort in Illinois designed to convince you and your colleagues in Congress that Illinois deserves more funding to support its transportation infrastructure.

 

First, I would like to thank Sen. Inhofe and Sen. Fitzgerald for traveling to Chicago and providing us with this opportunity to tell you firsthand why you should be championing the cause of more money to fund the transportation system of this nation and our state,

 

The private sector and labor must depend on government for its transportation system. Government provides the overall planning and resources to develop and maintain our transportation system. And our nationís economy is totally dependent on our inter-connected, fully≠functioning, multi-modal transportation system. Itís obvious that a greater investment is needed in our infrastructure nationwide, where many of our aging interstates and bridges are in poor repair.

 

Illinois is located at the heart of our transportation system - our highway system, rail system, waterways and even air transport system. We are a gateway between the east and west coasts, and between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. The nationís investment in Illinois is an investment well-made - and one that needs to be increased to ensure a healthy economy for the future of our state and of our nation.

 

Illinois deserves a bigger share of the nationís transportation funding to more closely reflect the key role we play in hosting a critical junction in the nationís transportation infrastructure.

 

I canít overemphasize how much transportation funding matters, Of course it means jobs, which is one of the reasons why Iím here today. Of course it affects our quality of life - and the cost of our goods and services. For the thousands of Illinois residents whose jobs will be affected by your decisions in Washington, I ask for your help in winning increased funding to support Illinoisí transportation network.

 

We ....here testifying today ...each have our own constituencies and interests to represent. Mine is organized labor, which represents 1 million

workers in Illinois. We strive to represent the interests of all working people on issues that affect their everyday lives. And transportation is certainly one of those. Yet, we are united in our appeal to you for more resources for transportation for this country - and for the pressing transportation needs in Illinois.

 

You, as Senators, must take a global view of the needs of this entire nation. And you will undoubtedly see that Illinois merits greater attention and resources to keep our national transportation system strong and to help rebuild the nationís economy.