Organized labor is proving to be California high-speed rail's biggest booster and continues to urge state lawmakers and officials to move forward with the massive infrastructure project. Union support is one of the key reasons that Governor Newsom has thrown his weight behind high-speed rail since the beginning.
The project has been rough going and is behind-schedule and over-budget which has state leaders at a crossroads as to how to proceed. There are some that want the project scrapped entirely while others want to change focus to different sections of rail.
Robbie Hunter, head of State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, is pushing for the remainder of State allocated money be used for a stand alone rail section between Merced and Bakersfield. This is in contrast to many State lawmakers who want the sections in Southern California and the Bay Area to take priority.
Hunter says of sticking with building in the Central Coast vs. refocusing on urban areas, “I am doing my best to build things that we need, not build because we want jobs,” he said. This is in response to the assertion that building in more urban areas would yield more jobs.
The Carpenters, a labor union that doesn't fall under Hunter's umbrella, took a pragmatic stance, “I can see both arguments,” said Dan Langford, executive secretary and treasurer of the Southwest Regional Carpenters Council. “It makes sense to have high-speed rail where it is most needed. Either way, it creates opportunity for members.”
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