Meet the Steelworkers Rebuilding New Jersey’s Point-No-Point Bridge

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Sep 18 2023 |
Screenshot via United Steelworkers on YouTube

The United Steelworkers union is shining a spotlight on the men and women working to replace the 122-year-old bridge, which is a key freight artery.

The United Steelworkers (USW) unveiled a new 6-minute video this weekend highlighting their members who are helping to rebuild the more than a century old Point-No-Point freight rail bridge in New Jersey.

The bridge is a vital North-South link that serves two-thirds of the Garden State’s rail freight rail needs, and about 7,000 containers move across the bridge each day, making it a vital shipping artery along the East Coast. Built in 1901, long had been considered for replacement, and the project finally kicked off in 2022, creating 110 prevailing wage union jobs and supporting additional manufacturing jobs through the American-made materials supplied for the project. New Jersey is among the states with a strong Buy America law in place, mandating that American-made iron and steel be used in highway and bridge projects.

“Our employees that work out there are hardworking American people, and all of the products are domestic. So all are manufactured in the United States in America,” Ron Harms, president and CEO of George Harms Construction, explains in the video.

“We get our girders from Lancaster, you know, High Steel. So they’re Made in America,” adds Tony Nock of USW Local 4-318. “I don’t know what we use that isn’t Made in America.”

There’s no doubt that the United States neglected its infrastructure for decades, and the country’s crumbling bridges often served as the symbol of that neglect. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave a “C” grade to U.S. bridges in its latest Infrastructure Report Card, noting that “7.5% of the nation’s bridges, are considered structurally deficient, meaning they are in ‘poor’ condition.”

The Point-No-Point Bridge desperately needed repair. Along with being more than a century old, the bridge had suffered damage in Hurricane Sandy back in 2012.

Now the project is well underway, and the steelworkers helping to rebuild the vital bridge say they hope the new bridge will stand for century.

“It’s really gratifying to me to drive by on the weekend and see all the hard work that we’ve done,” says Luis Santiago of USW Local 4-318. “And also, you know, show my family as I drive by.”

“We’re definitely rebuilding America,” Nock echos. “What I love most about it is I feel like I’m doing something that’s rewarding. I can make a good living for my family, being able to buy a house, put my kids through college.”

Along with highlighting the importance of the project, the video also showcases the importance of these good union jobs, both to the economy and the people doing them. USW Local 4-318 member Marie-Eve Sylvain explains that her job supported her family after she went through a divorce.

“It’s been six years and I love it,” she explains. “I’m doing things I never imagined I would have ever done in my life.”

Strong Buy America preferences help ensure that infrastructure projects like the Point-No-Point replacement not only employ American workers but also use American-made materials. With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding thousands of projects across the country, it’s vital that Buy America be properly applied and enforced so tax dollars are reinvested back into workers like those featured in the video.

“The infrastructure is unfortunately a mess,” said Tom Kelly of USW Local 4-318. “But being in the business we’re in, it’s a good thing, because the work is nonstop.”

Click here to watch the full video on YouTube.