Against the backdrop of a nation enduring freezing weather events, our latest “ATM Podcast” features Plumber and Western Iowa Labor Federation President Jeff Shudak, who took a break from a job working on broken water mains to chat with us.
Forget the Iowa Caucus or the golden farm fields and let’s focus on water — an endemic sign of how sweeping America’s aging infrastructure issues are.
Shudak is a reliable local voice who knows what the bipartisan Biden infrastructure investment means during this historic watershed (literally) time in the United States. Iowa is known for having more structurally deficient bridges than any other state in the country. And when it rains, Shudak says his hometown, Council Bluffs, becomes a “big bathtub.” His conversations are often shaped with insight about the unceasing crumbling of systems, sinkholes, eroding concrete, flooding, and stormwater diversions.
Nationwide, there are legislators who rallied heavily against the infrastructure bill but now — in local political pablum — tout its regional benefits. However, Shudak has always been a fierce proponent of increased federal funding for clean water, resilient bridges, ports and rail, rural broadband, and access to public transportation, roads and airports.
Shudak’s live-by edict is that union members working on projects that benefit their regions have untold positive benefits — from robust workforce development, longterm labor and jobs growth, and an improved quality of life for the public.
The ATM continues to advocate common-ground issues, such as federal infrastructure investment, that affect the business and labor sectors and to foster dialogue on multiple state, national and global matters.