Union leaders joined U. S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on an overpass above Interstate 72 east of Springfield Monday to call on the U.S. House of Representatives to get involved in replenishing the Highway Trust Fund. Durbin, who says a solution is needed by Aug. 1 to keep projects going, says a markup is Tuesday in the Senate on a bill which would provide some relief. Beyond “closing tax loopholes,” he would not be specific until then.
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“This would be disastrous to the Illinois economy and the economy of the United States,” says Mike Zahn, state council chairman of the International Union of Operating Engineers. “If you look at the job growth we’ve had in the last six months, that would wipe it out in one day.” “This is the time when construction workers make their ends meet,” says Sean Stott, director of governmental relations for the Laborers International Union's Midwest region. “The workers and the families that rely on the wages that are generated from these projects are going to be set back considerably” if the work stops.