By Terry J Hayden
President, Wisconsin Pipe Trades Association
As president of the Wisconsin Pipe Trades Association, I know how the highly-skilled Wisconsinites who work in plumbing, steamfitting, HVAC service, and fire sprinkler fitting play a critical role in keeping our homes, businesses and entire communities running. And now, thanks to President Joe Biden passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the piping trades in Wisconsin are about to see a massive inflow of new projects and jobs.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law addresses some of the biggest problems facing our country and state by rebuilding our roads and bridges, making high-speed internet readily available and ensuring clean drinking water is a right in all homes.
Overall, the infrastructure law will bring Wisconsin $841 million in federal funds that are dedicated to clean water efforts. The funding will not only replace lead services lines but also upgrade water filtration systems to ensure that water from public wells is free from harmful chemicals. The distribution of these funds is already in effect. In 2022 alone, Wisconsin will see $142 million of federal dollars dedicated to water infrastructure- related projects. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law isn’t an empty promise of federal action, we’re already seeing funds flow into our state that will make a real difference in our communities.
Replacing lead service lines is not only a matter of public health, infrastructure projects are a boon for Wisconsin’s economy. For years, Gov. Tony Evers has proposed funding to ensure clean drinking water and replace lead pipes in the state. Thanks to this federal funding, Democrats’ goal to make clean drinking water a right in all homes can finally become a reality. The overhaul of the state’s lead service lines will create countless jobs for plumbers, who are ready to tackle Wisconsin’s remaining 176,000 lead pipelines. Every lead service line represents a job for Wisconsin’s pipe trade workers, who are now on the frontlines of our state’s clean water efforts.
The infrastructure law is not only creating jobs – it’s creating good-paying jobs that treat workers with the respect they deserve. The majority of funds in this legislation are subject to requirements that ensure workers are paid a fair, livable wage. The Wisconsin Pipe Trades Association is comprised of eight local unions in Wisconsin and we know that unions are the backbone of our state’s economy. I cannot underscore how important it is to have Biden in the White House and Evers in the Governor’s Office advocating for unions. This law will set a precedent in our state that protects the dignity and rights of our Wisconsin workers.
The infrastructure law is a big win for Wisconsin workers. It will create new jobs, ensure workers receive livable wages, and ensure that every child across our state has access to clean drinking water. Wisconsin’s unions and pipe trades are immensely thankful to have Biden, Sen. Baldwin, and Reps. Kind, Moore, and Pocan, who got this infrastructure law across the finish line. I’m thankful we have leaders like Biden and Democrats in Congress who got this deal passed and delivered for Wisconsin’s unions and the pipe trades. And we’re thankful we have Evers to allocate federal funding and defend workers in our state. The infrastructure law will be a defining moment in history for Wisconsin’s pipe trades and represents a bright future for our industry and workers.