On June 10, Annie Mecias-Murphy, co-owner and president of Associated Builders and Contractors member JA&M Developing Corp., headquartered in Pembroke Pines, Florida, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure on the negative impacts that the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan would have on small business contractors.
Mecias-Murphy, who serves on the board of directors for the association’s Florida East Coast Chapter, testified on behalf of ABC at the hearing titled, Utilization of Small Contractors in the Infrastructure Plan. In her opening statement, she urged Congress to invest in America’s infrastructure, ensure that small construction businesses are not excluded from the competitive bidding process for federal infrastructure projects and expand workforce development opportunities in the construction industry.
“It is because of the construction industry that I am able to be here to share my story with you today. I was born to immigrant parents who chose to flee religious and political persecution by the Cuban government just 90 miles south of Florida,” said Mecias-Murphy. “When my father came to this country in 1969, he entered the construction workforce with nothing except the clothes on his back. Construction was part of our daily lives while I was growing up.”
“The construction industry is fueled by small businesses; in fact, 99% of U.S. construction firms employ fewer than 100 workers,” said Mecias-Murphy. “Improvements to infrastructure can play a huge role in enhancing the opportunities for small business like ours to be able to bid so that we may win work and diversify our experience. These types of projects are critical for the future livelihood of small business in the construction industry. While I appreciate the conversation taking place, and a public commitment to infrastructure improvements, it is my concern that the funding directed towards construction of our nation’s most critical infrastructure under the president’s American Jobs Plan is limited and contains restrictive policies that could inhibit small businesses from bidding on these projects.
"Construction is an industry that gave my family its start, our shining light of opportunity that continues to provide for my family and my employees…The American dream and the construction industry go together. It is through construction that we can provide for our families, create jobs for workers and give back to our communities. I cannot imagine what this legislation will do to all the families that depend on JA&M, let alone all the millions of families around the country that depend on small businesses for their survival.”
Mecias-Murphy said that Congress must avoid enacting partisan, restrictive policies referenced in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan such as the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, government-mandated project labor agreements and a one-size-fits-all approach to workforce development. As her testimony details, the inclusion of these policies and others like them would significantly limit the success of any potential infrastructure bill, as they would prevent qualified merit shop contractors and their skilled and diverse workforce from participating in rebuilding their communities.
Mecias-Murphy also highlighted the need for inclusive workforce development programs like the partnership her chapter and local members have with the Boys & Girls Clubs and numerous other community organizations to make sure that the next generation is aware of the benefits of a career in construction.
Watch a full recording of the hearing here, and read the full testimony here.