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Koch Brothers

Capital Blight News #112

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, July 12, 2016

A supplement to Eco Unionist News:

Lead Stories:

The Man Behind the Curtain:

Green is the New Red:

Greenwashers:

Capital Blight News #111

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, July 5, 2016

A supplement to Eco Unionist News:

Lead Stories:

The Man Behind the Curtain:

Green is the New Red:

Greenwashers:

Disaster Capitalism:

Other News:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC; Hashtags: #greenunionism #greensyndicalism #IWW. Please send suggested news items to include in this series to euc [at] iww.org.

On the Firing Line: Bullies in Stetsons

By Jeffrey St. Clair and James Ridgeway - CounterPunch, January 15, 2016

Image, right: Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. USFS.

Scanning the Sunday New York Times during the summer of 1990, President George Herbert Walker Bush read how an Idaho rancher had threatened to slit the throat of Forest Service ranger Don Oman, who had decided to reduce the number of cattle grazing on several allotments in the Twin Falls District of the Sawtooth National Forest. Bush ordered a Justice Department investigation. A White House aide called Oman and said the president wanted the ranger to know he wouldn’t tolerate harassment of federal workers.

Five years later times had changed drastically. At the half-way mark of Bill Clinton’s term in office, threats against federal employees working in the rural west had become commonplace. Many Forest Service and BLM workers had to travel in pairs, maintaining constant radio contact with ranger offices. Their families routinely received death threats aimed not just at the workers, but also at their children.

In the face of these rising tensions, President Clinton reacted in a markedly different way than his predecessor. His administration placed a gag order on Forest Service employees talking about their harassment, ordered line officers on the public range to quit complaining and retreated from legal confrontation with violent anti-government vigilantes.

After the Oklahoma City bombings, the situation across the whole of the West became more tense. “There’s more people now kind of watching their backs,” said Doug Zimmer, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officer. “You pull into a rest stop driving from Spokane to Seattle and you park away from the other vehicles. That kind of thing.”

At public meeting in December 2004, one man told Zimmer he was going back to his truck to get a gun. Another threatened to rope him to his pickup and drag him through town. The situation got so bad that the Washington state Department of Ecology removed state logos from many of its trucks and cars.

In the mountains outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, a rancher by the name of Cliveden Bundy decided to excavate a gravel quarry on public lands. When BLM rangers came out to the site to halt the unauthorized mining, Bundy threatened to “blow [their] fucking heads off.” Bundy wasn’t arrested. Indeed, he continued to mine gravel and threaten BLM officials.

“The BLM and Forest Service managers pushed the Department of Justice to act, but the Clinton administration was loath to respond in an aggressive manner,” said Jeff DeBonis, a former Forest Service worker who founded Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

“The most they were willing to do was to belatedly file civil suits,” said Andy Stahl of the Association of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. “The problems seemed to lie with top-level managers in the Forest Service and in the office of general counsel of the Department of Agriculture, some of whom were sympathetic with the claims of many of these ranchers and county leaders.”

Well, If You Ask Me: By the time I get to Oregon

By Dano T Bob - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, January 10, 2016

So, I guess I gotta weigh in on this whole Oregon wildlife preserve/bird sanctuary/stolen native land takeover thing. Jeez, what a spectacle! I guess that is what the “wanna be militia” wanted, though, right? I’m just not sure why we are obliging to give it to them, but it is a bit too late to stop that.

My first thought upon hearing about it was to ignore it, not give them my media attention. No, I don’t think they should be ignored period, at the risk that they turn out to be dangerous and harmful to the land and people, etc. But, media-wise, I wish that we collectively didn’t believe the hype, which I don’t personally.

A couple of good reads have summed up a lot of my thoughts on this. The irony of bourgeois white men talking about this collectivized land as “stolen” from them, while ignoring it was stolen from indigenous peoples, as Earth First so correctly points out. Yeah, the Paiute are probably first in line if anyone has dibs to this land first stolen from them by the government and then set aside and reserved for the public, and for endangered birds.

Oh, and poor ole Ammon Bundy! Sure, government oppression is real and fucked up, but getting a $53,000 dollar Small Business Administration loan, and refusing to pay public grazing fees for your cattle at below market rate prices, is not exactly my idea of “oppression” at all, more like class warfare from those with money, privilege and resources refusing to pay for the collective good of our society to use public land to make more money for themselves, at our expense. And yes, you read that right, Oregon ranchers are getting a 93 percent discount from the going market rate, according to 538.com, to use OUR public land for their own benefit and cattle grazing.

I will say, though, that Jacobin did have a very thoughtful article on the real problem with those calling for state violence or crackdown on these “occupiers.”

I quote, “But what we must not do is call for the police to move in with the tear gas and rubber bullets of Ferguson and Baltimore, or the live rounds of MOVE or Wounded Knee, because equal injustice is not justice done.

I complete agree, and hope that more rational minds and more radical attitudes come to favor this view. The rest of the article is gold and I want to quote it at length.

Tim Norgren: Letter to Labor

By Tim Norgren - Special to IWW Enviornmental Unionism Caucus, October 16, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Fellow workers:  

In considering extreme-method fuel extraction and export: the danger of spills, water contamination, explosions, wild fires, the devastation of  fishing, farming, tourism, and manufacturing economies, and climate crises are troublingly relevant. Similarly the claims by project supporters that fuel passing through these terminals is for domestic use, or to “end our dependence on foreign oil”  is a disturbingly hollow lie; while it may yet be refined in America, the product is primarily bound for overseas markets.

Yet what most drives me to comment now is how the industry and even some of our own leadership continue to divide and manipulate the populace with mantras of “good jobs vs. the environment”. That supposed opposition is a fabrication. In fact “profits for the wealthy vs. the environment, public safety, AND workers” is far more accurate.

I began my construction union career building wind turbines. We also build and maintain solar farms, hydro dams, and public transportation networks. For a while we joined the Blue-Green Alliance, and even trained workers in weatherization of homes and buildings, a new business for us.

One potentially huge line of work is to build manufacturing design and production centers for consumer goods and technology. Intel’s recent expansion, for example, is now in its fourth year of renewed construction and has provided a multitude of jobs at any given time. As technology excels into the realm of sustainability there become many more opportunities in these “new” areas (energy storage, retrofits, production centers, etc.) for projects that will benefit all of us.  And of course electric cars can tear up roads and bridges like any other, so highway work remains a steady bet. This is all happening while dwindling supplies (leading to extreme extraction methods), popular resistance, and divestment leave the fossil industry with a dim future.

Yet recently our leaders decided to scrap new opportunities to pursue fossil export projects instead. In doing so we find ourselves aligning with such dubious entities as the Koch brothers, and the American Legislative Exchange Council. These powerful advocates for dirty fuels, fracking, climate denial, and OPPOSITION to renewable energy projects we work on are also the forces behind virulent attacks on unions such as “right to work” bills, and attempts to lower the minimum wage (www.alecexposed.org)

If this “jobs vs. the environment” rhetoric succeeds in dividing us, then we'll indeed have a few new projects, though they rarely stand up to their hype. Pipelines, for example, are divided into sections so as to be finished quickly, providing only 4-6 months of employment to a given set of local workers, while out-of-towners dominate about half of the work (as taught in the recent class for Laborer’s stewards preparing for the “Pacific Connector” proposal, should it go through). But when those jobs are over, the fuels will continue to be fracked and extracted, with taxpayer-funded subsidies and predominantly nonunion miners and roughnecks, often destroying indigenous and municipal water supplies, and run through our neighborhoods and forests in oft-leaky pipelines,  uncovered train cars and explosive tankers, further profiting the enemies of labor as they're shipped overseas to provide cheap fuel for death-trap factories where subsistence workers slave at jobs outsourced from safe, emission-regulated, living-wage employment in America and elsewhere!

Indeed as Industrial and other jobs are replaced with government-subsidized resource extraction, export, and privatization schemes, across the board from fossil fuels and lumber to such basic staples as water, education, the post office, and social services, we see in our mirror a third-world nation.

We can and must overcome that, and lead the way to a sustainable infrastructure and a sustainable economy. We need to offer a more solid resistance, to reign in globalization efforts like the TPP, which undermine our manufacturing base and the construction and maintenance that goes with it, and which allow companies to circumvent the rights and protections which the labor movement has sacrificed sweat, blood and LIVES to attain and defend for all of us. And we need to recognize these raw-material extraction-for-export and privatization projects as a symptom of that globalization. If we fight for these new jobs and to keep the industry of sustainability local, WE WILL GET THEM! Many want us to succeed and will back us up, including non-construction unions, railroaders, and many other activists.

EcoUnionist News #47

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, April 14, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

May Day:

An Injury to One is an Injury to All:

USW Refinery Strike:

Carbon Bubble:

Just Transition:

1267-Watch:

Bread and Roses:

Other News:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

EcoUnionist News #29

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, February 5, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

  • Register now for the Future of Railroads: Safety, Workers, Community & the Environment Conferences: Richmond, California (March 14, 2015) and Olympia, Washington (March 21, 2015) - railroadconference.org
  • The end of conductors? - Featuring Ron Kaminkow, MSNBC, January 29, 2015
  • Labor Landscape Analysis - By Joe Uehline, Labor Network for Sustainability, February 4, 2015

USW Refinery Workers Strike News:

Carbon Bubble:

Green Jobs and Just Transition:

Other News of Interest:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

LIUNA Partners with Anti-Union Forces, AFP and ALEC Advocating with Koch Money for Risky Keystone XL Tarsands Pipeline

By staff - Bold Nebraska, January 2015

Since 2010, the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) has partnered with several anti-union organizations that are funded by the Koch brothers along with TransCanada to gain approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Many construction unions partner with industry to win approval for projects and secure work for their members; this is often appropriate and productive. However, the industry and political partnerships that LIUNA has forged to gain approval of Keystone XL (KXL) seriously undermines workers’ rights and unions’ strength, and display a complete lack of concern for the broader labor movement or even the longer-term interests of LIUNA members.

In fact, their partnerships with the fossil fuel industry and far right political groups, namely Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), contribute to the vicious attacks on workers, unions and democracy.

Read the report (PDF).

Billionaires' Carbon Bomb: The Koch Brothers and the Keystone XL Pipeline

By staff - International Forum on Globalization, November 2014

THE INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON GLOBALIZATION’S earlier report, Faces Behind a Global Crisis: U.S. Carbon Billionaires and the U.N. Climate Deadlock followed the flow of fossil fuels industry funds to find that Charles and David Koch are, in fact, the single largest financiers of efforts to stop the phase out of fossil fuels. This report reveals one reason for their spending: the Kochs’ enormous investments in tar sands could become “stranded assets” if Keystone XL, the Alberta Clipper, and other important infrastructure for tar sands expansion is not approved.

With more money (a combined net worth of $100B) than the world’s wealthiest man, Bill Gates ($86B) the Kochs outspent all other oil companies, even Exxon, in campaign contributions, lobbying expenses, denialist science, and myriad other activities since 1999 to stop solutions to today’s quickening global climate crisis.1 Unprecedented financial wealth combined with the Kochs’ fanatical belief in what they call “economic freedom” made them top spenders in the 2012 and 2014 U.S. elections. The Kochs have spent well over $22 million on traceable campaign donations since 1990, and almost four times that amount—about $76 million—on their lobbying expenditures since 1998 alone. This number does not include the vast sums of dark money moved through their web of influence, as mapped by IFG’s Kochtopus, and monitored by KochProblem.org, online tools to follow the Koch Cash moving through their influence network.

Since the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, “Koch Cash” has bought a radical faction in Congress that has seized the power of the purse, shrunk government by 8% via the sequestration, and restricted U.S. action on climate to President Obama’s narrow administrative authorities, which the Kochs are currently countering in court. Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Koch-introduced legal cases have involved judges too friendly with the Kochs. These rulings undermine the legitimacy of the Court, the current composition of which is slated to continue to rule in the Kochs’ favor.

Read the report (Link).

Open Letter: Laborer Challenges Union Support of Fossil Fuel Export Projects

By Tim Norgren  - Portland Rising Tide, October 5, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following is an open letter from  union member Tim Norgren to Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). Read on as Tim explains why union support of fossil fuel export projects is short-sighted and generally not in the best interest of workers. 

Dear LIUNA and Fellow Workers,

In joining forces with avowed union enemies to lobby for export projects like coal and bitumen/oil terminals and pipelines, which would create some short term, but VERY FEW long term local jobs, I strongly feel we’re selling ourselves out, along with every worker in America!

The propositions stand to benefit billionaires like the Koch brothers and other members of ALEC, which as you know are behind state by state attacks on worker’s rights via campaigns like the “right to work” bill recently pushed in OR (see www.alecexposed.org for more).

Export proponents Arch and Peabody coal (ALEC members) were featured in the Labor Press last summer for shifting pensions worth over $1.3 BILLION (owed to some 20,000 beneficiaries) to a shell company- then bankrupting it, leaving retirees destitute. This “success” opened the door for Detroit to become the first city to declare bankruptcy and default on pensions. Scrutiny showed this to be an ALEC “model” scheme. Supporting companies which commit such crimes against dedicated workers is UNACCEPTABLE for anyone who purports to be part of a labor movement!

According to Greg Palast (investigative reporter for the BBC), the Koch brothers stand to save about $26 a barrel bringing in the oil from the Keystone XL instead of from H. Chavez in Venezuela. The Koch’s Houston refineries are designed to refine only the high carbon tar sands oil available from those sources and cannot even process the lighter Texas crude. $26 a barrel would add up to a lot more ammo in their union-busting arsenal.

Should proposals succeed, then when our job’s over, coal will continue being extracted from public lands, with mainly non-union miners and huge federal subsidies (taxpayer expense) in obscenely higher quantities than now, then carted though our neighborhoods alongside explosive fracked oil tankers. Tar sands oil will keep flowing into Koch Industries refineries. And while NOT keeping us working, it WILL continue to profit enemies of labor (fueling their next campaigns) as it’s shipped to Asia, providing cheap fuel for deathtrap factories where subsistence workers slave at jobs outsourced from living wage employment in America!

Indeed as industrial and other jobs are replaced with government subsidized resource extraction and privatization schemes, across the board from fossil fuels and lumber to such basic staples as water and social services, we can see in our mirror a third world nation.

In my humble opinion as a member of LIUNA, pursuing these proposals rather than insisting on cleaner, more labor-friendly energy and transmission projects IS SUICIDE! Are we truly willing to follow the short-term carrot on a stick, like an ass to the slaughter? To feed ourselves willingly to those who would destroy us? Or do enough of us still have the conscience, guts and faith to stand up with those who’ve struggled at such cost to give us rights as workers?

Sincerely,

Tim Norgren, Laborers Local 320

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