Illinois Port Construction Will Spawn 500 Union Jobs

Thanks to an agreement between union leaders and the Alexander Cairo Port District, 500 union jobs are coming to southern Illinois.

Source :

May 3, 2021

Author : Alex Bustillos

The new inland port in the Alexander Cairo Port District will have other benefits for the Illinois economy as well.

A study released in April conducted by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) found that Illinois Marine Transportation System generates $36 billion towards the state’s economy, employs 166,628 people, and generates $10.5 billion in worker income, among other benefits.

In 2019, as part of the Rebuild Illinois initiative, $150 million was appropriated to IDOT for the Illinois Port Facilities Capital Investment Grant Program, with $40 million going directly to the Alexander Cairo Port District.

Last week, the Alexander Cairo Port District and the Illinois AFL-CIO reached a labor agreement over the construction of a new port there, with the public-private partnership agreeing to employing 500 local union workers for the project construction.

“The Cairo port district represents the best of Rebuild Illinois: investing in not only infrastructure, but also jobs and economic prosperity for a region left out for far too long,” Governor JB Pritzker said, according to local media.

“Thanks to the Alexander Cairo Port District and the Illinois AFL-CIO, more than 500 Illinois workers and their families will have access to good union jobs in the next stages of the port’s construction – opportunities that couldn’t come at a better time for the people of Illinois,” the governor added. “Our building trades are top notch, and I have every faith the team on the ground will deliver the state-of-the-art infrastructure Southern Illinois deserves.”

State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) said that with the project labor agreement “we know that these well-paying construction jobs will go to Illinoisans, boosting our local economy and investing in the region.”

“I am confident that Alexander-Cairo port will be game-changing for our state, spurring additional economic development and growth. With such a big undertaking, we could not move forward with this project without the incredible local labor workforce of Southern Illinois spearheading its development,” he added.

The town of Cairo was discovered by Lewis and Clark in 1803 and founded a little more than 30 years later by the Cairo City and Canal Company. It was incorporated as a town the next year, and less than 20 years later, designated as a port of delivery by Congress. It was even Huckleberry Finn and Jim’s destination in the book “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

The Alexander Cairo Port District notes that they are located “at the confluence of the two largest rivers in North America, the Ohio and the Mississippi, Cairo sits atop the geographic center of the USA's major shipping and distribution routes.”

Map via Alexander Cairo Port District.

“With abundant access to rail, interstate, and two of the busiest waterways in the nation, the untapped potential of this position will be an invaluable asset for commercial development,” they continue.

While the port district is close to geographically important inland waterways, the town of Cairo is connected to three highways, a rail line, and has a regional airport just outside of town.

According to the Port District, 80 percent of “all inland barge traffic in the U.S. passes Cairo, Illinois.” They even publish a live map of marine traffic.

Category : Labor Union Certified Firms Department of Transportation Investment in Infrastructure Labor Public-Private Partnership State Government Ports

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