As we look around our country every day, we see symbols of what makes us great. Towering skyscrapers, highways, bridges, power plants and monuments stand as proud and silent witnesses to the resolve of American workers. They literally built the United States from the ground up.

As members of Congress representing different parties, we’re building something, too: a new and unique alliance to support the Congressional Building Trades Caucus, a bipartisan collaboration in the House that will advance the agenda of all hardworking Americans.

The 6.6 million Americans across our nation who work in construction need strong partners who are working on their behalf. In Congress, as we follow this new and united blueprint for the future, we’re also tearing something down: the traditional labels associated with labor and business. Neither should be claimed as a value solely of the Republican or Democratic parties. These are core American issues. We know that.

So now that we have our own foundation, we can build. Who better to lead that effort than us? Together, we represent decades of hands-on experience in our respective fields.

I, Rep. McKinley, bring 50 years of construction know-how to the Building Trades Caucus.

I, Rep. Norcross, am plugged in more than most on these issues after spending years installing power lines in refineries and on the tops of bridges as a union electrician in New Jersey.

Our combined backgrounds give us the unique understanding of what America needs and where we need to go. That will help us open minds to educate fellow members on the necessity of cultivating the next generation of workers to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and set new benchmarks for greatness.

Together, we’ll rally members from our respective parties to exchange ideas and facilitate policies that will help us energize the building trades industry to create new opportunities for the over 6.6 million men and women who build and repair America.

As always, an educated and skilled workforce is a critical component to our success. For us as lawmakers, that means thinking outside the traditional classroom setting to promote and support ideas like skilled apprenticeships, which are the avenues to the very jobs that are the engine to our nation’s success.

Together, we will advocate for the building trades, a trusted and reliable source of labor for businesses, big and small. The trades represent diverse individuals from across the United States, our family and friends, who apply their talents using their hands and minds in a variety of fields, whether carpenters or pipefitters, electricians or ironworkers. The jobs they report to every day are what put America to work and keep America working.

We will be the voice for the trades, which have long been a proven pathway to success for middle-class American families who deserve to earn a living wage and enjoy the dignity of work.

As our workforce wakes each day to build a better and stronger America, we as members of Congress must renew efforts to forge relationships among one another and the business community to foster a clearer understanding of our nation’s most essential needs.

The very visions that go from the drawing board to reality are the proud achievements of the men and women in the construction arena. Our caucus will be their voice in the deliberations of Congress.

The Building Trades Caucus will mirror that spirit as a critical building block and important first step to achieving the kind of understanding we need to get the job done for America.

Donald Norcross represents New Jersey's 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. A Democrat, Norcross sits on the Armed Services and the Budget committees. David McKinley represents West Virginia’s 1st Congressional District. A Republican, McKinley sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/opinion/columnists/2016/03/05/commentary-bipartisan-push-support-labor/81274836/