With the highway bill stalled, the Laborers’ International Union of North America today launched a new radio ad and direct-mail campaign targeted at Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The pieces include a primer on “How to Survive a Collapsed Bridge,” courtesy of the U.S. Army’s survival guide.
“The average age of bridges in the U.S. is 45 years — dangerously close to the designed lifespan of 50 years,” LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan said in a statement announcing the spots. “With this campaign, we’re letting Congress know that while they’re busy playing politics, Americans are being forced to risk their safety every time they cross a deficient or obsolete bridge.”
The campaign — which has radio ads running in Ohio and Kentucky — specifically urges voters to call on the GOP leaders to rally support for a long-term surface transportation bill. The current measure expires at the end of this month, and a House reauthorization collapsed amid disagreement among Republicans over spending and offsets. The Senate version has been delayed by myriad amendments, many not related to transportation at all. But Boehner did hint today that he would be willing to try to pass the Senate version, if it makes to his chamber.
Still, the union is applying pressure, saying it is also behind a flatbed truck carrying a roll of duct tape with a sign “Emergency Bridge Repair Team.” The truck will travel through Ohio and Kentucky.
Striking a jobs theme, the union said that 1.5 million construction workers are unemployed and could easily be put to work fixing the nation’s roads and bridges.
“This campaign is jarring, hard-hitting and provocative — and accurate,” O’Sullivan added in the press statement. “It is exasperating that it takes this kind of effort to motivate elected officials to act on behalf of the country.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.