BY BOB LANHAM, AGC PRESIDENT
I want to thank all of you for your support and engagement during the past several months. Since the pandemic began, tens of thousands of members like you have engaged with AGC to help shape our response to the crisis. You helped us keep our industry working, keep our jobsites safe and our teams largely intact. But even as we celebrate all that your engagement has allowed us to accomplish, we have a long way to go before we get back to what things were like before the coronavirus.
Over 50,000 of you joined with us in urging public officials to allow construction to continue to operate as an essential business in most parts of the country. Without your engagement, there is little chance that so many state and local officials would have decided to exclude construction from their shutdown orders.
Without your support, there is little chance the administration would have corrected the eligibility guidelines or clarified its criteria for an acceptable Paycheck Protection Program loan. Thanks to your support, construction employers have become the largest recipient of these loans out of any sector of our economy.
Tens of thousands of you joined with us in a first-of-its kind AGC of America nationwide coronavirus safety stand down in early April. And you have continued to engage when it comes to safeguarding workers and local communities from the coronavirus. You have promoted our weekly safety tips, shared images of your new safety routines, and supported our workingsafe.agc.org website and related advertising campaign. Thanks to your engagement, we are showing the public, and public officials, how our industry is working safe.
Many thousands of members like you also got involved with our local chapters as they worked to keep firms in business, understand how to protect workers, or line up PPE donations for local health care providers. As awful as this pandemic has been, it has shown our members the power of engaging through AGC, both locally and nationally.
But as much as we have accomplished so far, we also need to appreciate that there is a lot more work to be done. Now that our country is, slowly and fitfully, reopening, we need the same level of engagement to make sure our industry can rebuild our ailing economy. We are counting on all of you, for example, to encourage our elected officials to boost investments in public infrastructure like roads and water systems, as well as social infrastructure like schools and first responder facilities. Our message is clear: There has never been a better time to invest in construction.
With over 38 million people out of work, investing in infrastructure now will help put countless people into high-paying construction careers. And with demand for many of our infrastructure systems near record lows, improving them now will cause relatively little inconvenience. These new infrastructure investments will also provide a needed boost to makers of construction supplies, materials and equipment. Even better, they will make our economy more efficient and more vibrant.
We won’t be able to realize the full economic benefits of investing in infrastructure if construction firms and the rest of the economy are mired in endless litigation. That is why we also need members to engage with their elected officials to explain why we need liability protection. Such protections will safeguard the many firms that are following applicable coronavirus safety guidance to protect their workers and local communities.
We also need Congress to let the unemployment benefits expire at the end of July as well. Likewise, we need to let the unemployment benefits expire at the end of July as well. With 43 percent of member firms telling us they have employees who refuse to come back to work because of those benefits, we need to encourage work instead of using tax dollars to discourage it. Your engagement has helped our association and this industry weather some of the worst parts of the coronavirus and related economic lockdowns. But now is not the time to let up. We need to make sure this industry can rebuild our economy. And to do that, we need you to stay active, stay involved and stay engaged.