The United Steelworkers Embark on the “We Supply America” Bus Tour

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Aug 16 2021 |
“We have an opportunity in America right now to buy American and build American like never before,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh during the kickoff of the “We Supply America” bus tour. Photo via @steelworkers on Twitter

The USW is hitting the road this week to advocate for infrastructure investment and highlight how its members make the things we need to rebuild America.

Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-Ind.), USW International President Tom Conway, AAM President Scott Paul, and a slew of other elected and union officials came together in Northwest Indiana on Monday morning to launch a week-long bus tour to support infrastructure investment.

AAM field coordinator Mike Millsap Jr. (center) poses with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh (left) and Rep. Frank Mrvan. Photo by Scott Paul

The “We Supply America” bus tour is especially well-timed. Just last week, the Senate passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure investment package to build or repair America’s roads, bridges, public transit, water systems, electric grid, Internet broadband, and electric vehicle charging stations. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has signaled she plans to bring up the bill as early as next week, tied to a $3.5 trillion budget framework.

While lawmakers continue working on the bill on Capitol Hill, the United Steelworkers are hitting the road to spread the word about the importance of getting the job done. And equally important is making sure that the work happens in the United States, which will maximize job growth and strengthen America’s ability to make the things it needs.

Buy America provisions were included in the Senate bill. Secretary Walsh said that “the president has made this a priority, making Made in America a priority,” pointing to the president’s executive order signed during his first week in office to strengthen Buy America.

“That means when the federal government invests taxpayers’ dollars, we support American jobs in American communities,” Walsh said. “That’s what he wants to do.”

Walsh later added: “We need to make sure we’re bringing in materials, produce, components, iron and steel, we need to make sure we’re building that right here in America.”

The United Steelworkers make and can supply many of those things (hence the the name of the tour). Roxanne Brown, USW’s international vice president at large, noted that the Steelworkers not only make things like steel, rubber and cement, but they also serve in other critical roles that constitute human infrastructure, like childcare.

And it’s important that people understand infrastructure isn’t just a wonky thing you hear about on cable news, Brown said. People should know that the United Steelworkers are the folks actually behind it.

“Make sure you know they are talking about you,” Brown said. “Make sure you know they are talking about your jobs… they’re talking about your communities.”

AAM President Scott Paul noted said that the progress made on infrastructure legislation has been encouraging, and likened it to being at mile 20 of a legislative marathon. But as any avid runner will tell you, those last miles are always the most difficult. “Which is why we need your voices to be heard loudly, persuasively, and often,” Paul added.

And it’s vital that infrastructure investment includes efforts to make new clean energy technologies in the United States, from wind turbines to electric vehicle charging stations. We don’t want to trade foreign oil for Made in China solar panels, after all.

“We have to make them right here, otherwise we’re leaving those good jobs behind,” Paul said.

“We know the pandemic has brought our nation’s manufacturing shortcomings into sharp focus, from PPE to semiconductors to toilet paper. Companies like Google and Facebook and Walmart are the darlings of Wall Street… but they really don’t make a damn thing in America — and you do,” Paul said. “You do. So when the crisis hit, they could only sit back and watch and profit. Who went to work? You did. You made the PPE and essentials that are helping to get our nation back up on its feet. You showed that making things in America matters.”

The “We Supply America” bus tour heads to Newark, Ohio and Weirton, W. Va., on Tuesday, and Danville, Va. on Wednesday. After that, the bus will visit Wilmington, N.C. on Thursday before concluding Friday in Pittsburgh, Pa., where the USW is headquartered.

You can watch Monday’s event below. The events in North Carolina and Pennsylvania also will be livestreamed; you can get more details here.