A CDL Life viewer recently shared a video clip with us about Chinese workers being hired to rebuild American bridges, so we did some investigating to find out why this is happening and who’s to blame.
ABC News was the first to report on the issue last fall, since then, a email has circulated blaming Obama for allocating highway funds to companies overseas. This is not the case, highway funds come from the national level and then are allocated at the state level. Some states have chosen to hire American workers and others have contracted overseas companies to do the work.
With a national unemployment level at a near record high, it’s unfathomable that states have chosen to hire Chinese firms to rebuild American bridges, but indeed they have.
Infographic: US Infrastructure Quality Suffering
Infographic: Does Spending State Money on Highways Create Jobs?
What’s actually happening?
States take bids for road and bridge repairs. The Buy American law requires that states employ American workers to do the jobs; however, there’s a loophole in the law that allows states to contract overseas if they can save a significant amount of money.
Chinese companies are owned by the Chinese government. The Chinese companies are manufacturing the bridges overseas, where steel and labor are less expensive. It all comes down to money.
Who’s to blame?
According to FactCheck.org, the answer is murky and there’s a lot of finger pointing going on. “The National Steel Bridge Alliance blames the state railroad agency. The Alliance for American Manufacturing says the federal Buy American laws have been ‘weakened with loopholes and various exemptions that make it easier for bureaucrats to purchase foreign-made goods instead of those made in American factories with American workers.’
ABC News points the finger at individual states saying they’re to blame stating, “U.S. law actually requires major infrastructure projects to Buy America when the cost difference is reasonable. In California, U.S. firms say they would have met those guidelines. But state officials decided to turn down federal money for a major part of the bridge, allowing a Chinese company to get the job.”
The debate of who’s to blame is still going on and will no doubt be an issue in upcoming elections.
[youtube url=”http://youtu.be/qLlrSlAI-o0″ width=”250″]
What can you do?
Contact your local representatives, tell them to vote to strengthen the Buy American law, and tell them that if they vote to hire foreign companies, they will not receive your vote in the next election and share this information with others.