Building and maintaining our nation's roads, bridges, schools and other public resources is one of the government's most essential functions. Over the last several decades, however, our government has failed to invest sufficient resources into maintaining these important pieces of our everyday lives. These years of neglect have taken their toll, and much of our nation's aging infrastructure desperately needs to be repaired or replaced. The pandemic has added new urgency to this problem, and infrastructure investments are the surest way to get our economy back on track and secure work for ironworkers.
Investing in a healthy network of roads and bridges, public transportation and utility systems is vital to a growing economy and our communities' safety. Making this investment would also mean many thousands of new jobs for ironworkers. The last administration repeatedly promised an infrastructure bill but never delivered.
The Biden presidency coupled with a Democratic Congress is a once-in-a-generation chance to pass a bill that not only rebuilds our nation's crumbling infrastructure but significantly strengthens our union. The White House and Congress are hard at work on a bill right now and we are determined to make it the best it can be for ironworkers.
The infrastructure bill must be trillions of dollars to meet the need, and we can expect it will go beyond traditional roads, bridges and water to include clean energy. Our goal is to expand labor protections on infrastructure projects beyond Davis-Bacon provisions to ensure government investments support registered apprenticeship programs and prevent employers who abuse 1099 independent contractors. It is crucial that these standards cover the entire bill, including clean energy.
These measures would open new industries for market share and organizing, which would strengthen our union and result in quality jobs for ironworkers. If we do not get these standards on the whole bill, anti-union contractors will swoop in and undercut the construction industry with substandard treatment of workers and rock-bottom wages.