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Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA)

As Tribes Fight Pipeline, Internal AFL-CIO Letter Exposes 'Very Real Split'

By Jon Queally - Common Dreams, September 22, 2016

The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor federation, generated waves of criticism by standing against the Standing Rock Sioux and supportive allies last week when it endorsed the Dakota Access Pipeline – a project opponents say threatens tribal sovereignty, regional water resources, and sacred burial grounds while also undermining efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.

Yet while a public statement by AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka stirred widespread backlash, what has not been seen by the general public is an internal letter which preceded that statement—a letter which not only reveals a deeper and growing rift within the federation, but one that also helps expose the troubling distance between the needs of workers and priorities of policy-makers on a planet where runaway temperatures are said to be changing everything.

Trumka said the pipeline deserved the AFL-CIO's support because it was "providing over 4,500 high-quality, family supporting jobs" and argued that "attacking individual construction projects is neither effective nor fair to the workers involved."

In turn, many of the tribes and their progressive allies saw the statement as a short-sighted, if predictable, position on behalf of the federation's building trade unions. Norman Solomon, writing on these pages, didn't mince words when he said Trumka's remarks amounted to "union leadership for a dead planet" that could easily be mistaken for the "standard flackery" of the oil and gas industry. On Monday of this week, a coalition of AFL-CIO constituency organizations, made up of groups normally supportive of the federation, bucked Trumka's public stance by declaring their own opposition to the pipeline.

But many of those outside critics of the AFL-CIO didn't know the half of it. That's because none of them have likely seen a much more harshly-worded letter, obtained by Common Dreams, which was circulated internally among the federation's leadership ahead of Trumka's statement.

The five-page letter (pdf), dated September 14th, is addressed to Trumka and copied to all presidents of the AFL-CIO's 56 affiliated unions. It was sent by Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU), which represents 14 separate building and construction unions within the federation.

In the letter, McGarvey questions top leadership for not taking a firmer position in defense of the union members working on Dakota Access and calls out other AFL-CIO member unions—specifically the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the National Nurses United (NNU), the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and the American Postal Workers Union (APWU)—for aligning with "environmental extremists" opposed to the pipeline and participating in a "misinformation campaign" alongside "professional agitators" and members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

Solidarity Forever? - Last week the AFL-CIO broke my heart, releasing a statement supporting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline

By Brendan Orsinger - Medium, September 21, 2016

My grandma Gloria is 92-years old and the single greatest influence in my life. She has inspired me through the way she has led her life. She has strengthened my moral fabric as a human being and shaped what I believe to be right. She has given me the gift of music, and understanding and deep appreciation for justice, solidarity, and unions. Through the stories she’s told with great passion and conviction, she’s the reason I feel so moved and empowered to act.

Among her accomplishments, she:

  1. Alone raised three young children after being widowed when my grandfather Arthur died very suddenly.
  2. Graduated from law school at the age of 60, and was elected keynote speaker by her classmates.
  3. Worked on passage of and was present at the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (and has one of the pens!).

Gloria came to Washington, DC to work for the Congress of Industrial Organizations, or the CIO, where she met my grandfather. After a secretive office romance, they snuck away one Friday afternoon to Alexandria Courthouse in Virginia to exchange their vows. When my grandfather Arthur passed away, it was their colleagues and union members who surrounded her with love and support and made sure she had a job to support her three small children.

In the 1960’s grandma Gloria was a legislative representative for the IUE, or the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America. They exist today as the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers — Communications Workers of America, or IUE-CWA. She worked with members of Congress and the White House during that time for passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. She was invited to the signings of both pieces of landmark legislation. She believed deeply in equality, and when Dr. Martin Luther King spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th, 1963 and shared his dream, she was there with my mother.

She later would go on to work for AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.) Then for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC.

The labor movement runs in my blood through four generations, going back to my great-grandmother, Rose.

Gloria was influenced by her mother Rose, who worked in the garment district in New York. She worked for a dress factory/sweatshop and after seeing a need for improvement of conditions, became a member of the IWW or the Industrial Workers of the World — also affectionally known as the “Wobblies”. Under the IWW, she specifically worked with the International Ladies Garment Union.

Back then, conditions were really bad. There were stories of women with out means for childcare who would be forced to work with their babies beside them, asleep on the dirty floor covered with garment lint. There were no laws or protections for these women, so the doors were locked to force higher productivity. These were the same conditions that led to the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory fire in New York City that killed 145 workers.

It was my great-grandmother Rose who became a leader on then picket lines to demand the right to a reasonable wage and better working conditions. She ensured during strikes that the picket lines were held and never crossed. When the police tried to open the line to let the “scabs” through. Rose was punched by a cop after she warned him, “Don’t you put your hands on my girls!”. It’s unclear if the slap she landed on his cheek prior provoked the officer to violence.

There are so many stories like this I have heard from my grandmother about her “Mommy Rose”, but there are two in particular that stuck with me last Friday afternoon and Monday morning in the rain when I stood outside the headquarters of the AFL-CIO yelling and singing until I had lost my voice and my megaphone died — and even then, with no voice I sat outside in the rain and whistled union songs my grandmother taught me.

Dakota Access Foes Call on AFL-CIO to Retract Support of Pipeline

By Mark Hand - CounterPunch, September 20, 2016

The AFL-CIO is coming under attack from trade unions and their supporters angry about the organization’s support of the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through Native American land in North Dakota.

Demonstrators stood outside the AFL-CIO’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 19 calling on the union federation to renounce its support for the oil pipeline project. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, in a Sept. 15 statement, called on Native Americans and the federal government not to “hold union members’ livelihoods and their families’ financial security hostage to endless delay” and asked the Obama administration to let construction on the pipeline continue.

“This is unacceptable behavior for the AFL-CIO, which has a rich history of supporting the right causes — civil rights, voting rights,” Brendan Orsinger, an activist and organizer, said in an interview at the demonstration. “My grandmother worked with unions to harness that people power and put pressure on Congress to help pass the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and 1965. My great-grandmother worked on the picket lines.”

The president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) came out with an even stronger statement against Native Americans opposed to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. “LIUNA is a champion of the right to peacefully demonstrate, however, extremists have escalated the demonstrations well beyond lawful civil disobedience,” Terry O’Sullivan, general president of LIUNA, said in a statement. O’Sullivan said he found it frustrating that Native Americans “have disregarded the evidence and the review process to vilify a project.”

Other labor unions have expressed solidarity with Native Americans in their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, proposed by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners. The Amalgamated Transit Union condemned “the ongoing violent attacks on the Standing Rock Sioux and others who oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline” and noted “these attacks by a private security company bring back horrific memories of the notorious Pinkertons, who used clubs, dogs and bullets to break up peaceful worker protests.” The Communications Workers of America issued a statement in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe ” as they fight to protect their community, their land and their water supply.”

“The AFL-CIO has a proud history of working with oppressed people to gain their rights and worker rights and they need to stake a strong stand on indigenous rights,” Orsinger said. “They have a seal on their headquarters of a black hand and a white hand shaking. It bothers me that they are betraying their history and their moral high ground.”

Activists are hoping to apply enough pressure on the AFL-CIO so the federation finds it politically infeasible to support projects such as Dakota Access. “As many jobs as they may get from this pipeline construction, it is dwarfed by the amount of jobs they will lose elsewhere from the public turning against them,” Orsigner said.

The Dakota Access Pipeline project is a proposed 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline designed to connect the Bakken production area in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The pipeline would transport approximately 470,000 barrels of oil per day with a capacity as high as 570,000 barrels per day or more, which could represent approximately half of Bakken current daily crude oil production.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Sept. 16 ordered Energy Transfer Partners to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline for 20 miles on both sides of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, a dammed section of the Missouri River near the tribe’s reservation, while the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s appeal of its denied motion to do so is considered.

AFL-CIO to Planet Earth: Drop Dead!

By Norman Soloman - CounterPunch, September 19, 2016

At a meeting with the deputy political director of the AFL-CIO during my campaign for Congress, she looked across her desk and told me that I could get major union support by coming out in favor of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

That was five years ago. Since then, the nation’s biggest labor federation has continued to serve the fossil fuel industry. Call it union leadership for a dead planet.

Last week, the AFL-CIO put out a statement from its president, Richard Trumka, under the headline “Dakota Access Pipeline Provides High-Quality Jobs.” The rhetoric was standard flackery for energy conglomerates, declaring “it is fundamentally unfair to hold union members’ livelihoods and their families’ financial security hostage to endless delay.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is steadfast against the Dakota Access pipeline: “We will not rest until our lands, people, waters, and sacred sites are permanently protected from this destructive pipeline.”

In sharp contrast to the AFL-CIO’s top echelon, some unions really want to restrain climate change and are now vocally opposing the Dakota pipeline.

Communications Workers of America has expressed solidarity with members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe “as they fight to protect their community, their land and their water supply.”

At National Nurses United, Co-President Jean Ross cites “an obligation to step up climate action to protect public health and the future for the generations to follow us.”

Ross said: “We commend the leaders and members of the Standing Rock Sioux, the many First Nation allies who have joined them, and the environmentalists and other supporters who have participated in the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline.”

NNU points out that “the proposed 1,172-mile pipeline would carry nearly a half million barrels of dirty crude oil every day across four states.” Ross says that such projects “pose a continual threat to public health from the extraction process through the transport to the refinery.”

As for the AFL-CIO’s support for the pipeline, NNU’s director of environmental health and social justice was blunt. “We’re deeply disappointed in our labor federation siding with those that would endanger and harm the land, the water, the lives of the people along the pipeline path and the health of the planet itself in the name of profits,” Fernando Losada said.

He added that the Dakota pipeline is part of “a drive to extract fossil fuel that is untenable for the future of the planet.”

The nurses union is part of the AFL-CIO, but dominant forces within the federation are committed to corporate energy priorities. Losada said that “some elements in the AFL-CIO” have caused a stance that “is a narrow position in the alleged interests of their members for some short-term jobs.”

Compare that narrow position to a recent statement from Communications Workers of America: “The labor movement is rooted in the simple and powerful idea of solidarity with all struggles for dignity, justice and respect. CWA will continue to fight against the interests of the 1% and corporate greed and firmly stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the environmental and cultural degradation of their community.”

A venerable labor song has a question for the leaders of the AFL-CIO: Which side are you on?

When it comes to planetary survival, the answer from the top of the AFL-CIO hierarchy remains: We’re on the wrong side.

Call in the National Guard to Protect Against Native American People in North Dakota?

By Steve Zeltser - CounterPunch, September 13, 2016

When do unions call in the National Guard to protect workers? It happened this past week in North Dakota where Standing Rock Sioux tribe and members of nearly 200 more tribes from across the U.S. and Canada brought 4,000 mostly Native people from throughout the United States to stop the desecration of their ancestor graves and the threat to their water resources by Dakota Access LLC. Dakota Access LLC is building a $3.8 billion dollar pipeline that would take 500,000 barrels a day through their lands on the way to Chicago. It is being built with 3,000 unionized operating engineers, plumbers, laborers and teamsters along the 1200 mile route. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe saw their ancestors burial grounds being desecrated and were concerned that their water supply would be contaminated in any possible spill going into the Missouri river which runs close to the pipeline.

The company Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) which controls Dakota Access LLC  is owned by Texas billionaire Kelcy Warren. During Hurricane Warren through ETP stockpiled gas to gouge on prices after the hurricane passed and had to pay a $10 million fine for illegal manipulation of the energy industry.

The reaction by the unions to the growing protest was that there needed to be protection for their members so they could do their jobs. Glen Johnson, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers IUOE, said the unions had asked to meet with North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple to” find out what the state intends to do about protesters causing workers to fear for their lives.”

Terry O’Sullivan, general president of LIUNA who makes over $663,000 a year had previously lauded the project “The men and women of LIUNA applaud the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its fair and thorough review of the Dakota Access Pipeline. … For the highly skilled and trained men and women of LIUNA, projects like the Dakota Access are more than just pipelines. They are crucial lifelines to family-supporting jobs,”

IUOE leader Johnson said that the governor might have to ” call out the National Guard, “so we can get through this volatile area. It’s appalling what’s going on.”

“Why isn’t the state protecting these workers from people throwing rocks, chasing them and wearing masks? If they’re not going to do anything and the company has to hire protective security and there are dogs out there, if they get bit, or whatever, hey, reality is reality,” he said. “Unions have supported peaceful protest, and we do it ourselves. When it’s violent, is when the law needs to step in — what, are we all supposed to be vigilantes and take the law into our hands?”

According to reporter Lauren Donovan of the Bismarck Tribune, the National Guard have already been deployed last week and was being used on Highway 1806 to shutdown the road with an information point. Some people were arrested and the action freed up the local police for other duties.

Native American activist Winona Laduke, who was a former Green Party vice presidential candidate, was clear about where the piping should be going. In an interview with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, Laduke said “Flint, Michigan, has a problem. That’s why everything is eroding in this country. And what we need is those skilled laborers to be put to work, pipelines for people. I’m saying take those pipes that are sitting there in northern Minnesota, and send them to Flint, Michigan.”

Johnson’s support for the use of trained dogs who bit dozens of people including children and even a pregnant women. The frenzy was so wild that some of the dogs were even biting each other. This  raises the question about who Johnson is really representing. The use of dogs to bite civil rights protesters fighting segregation and racism in the south is notorious in US history and his open support for the use of these attack dogs by private security forces raises the question of what some unions would do to “protect” their jobs.

While these same unions and the AFL-CIO refuse to call for an end to the trillions of dollars that the US is spending on 700 bases overseas and at war and spending that money on the direly needed infrastructure in the US they are quite happy to support the use of the National Guard and attack dogs to protect their jobs.

Other unions spoke out in support of the Native peoples and against the threat to their lands. Larry Hanley the president of the Amalgamated Transit Workers Union ATU issued a statement condemning the attacks on Standing Rock Sioux and Opposes Dakota Access Pipeline.

“The Amalgamated Transit Union joins others in the Labor movement in condemnation of the ongoing violent attacks on the Standing Rock Sioux and others who oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. These attacks by a private security company bring back horrific memories of the notorious Pinkertons, who used clubs, dogs and bullets to break up peaceful worker protests.

“Union members understand that today the greatest threat to jobs, health and decent living standards is climate change. We support the National Day of Action on September 13th, and we urge President Obama to stop construction of this destructive pipeline and keep dangerous fossil fuels in the ground.”

This capitulation to business interests and their agenda for “jobs” of course is not new for the history of business unionism in the US. In Oakland, the California Teamsters Union supported the development of shipping coal into the Port Oakland despite the health and safety dangers particularly in the African American and Latino communities. The ILWU which works the ship and the Alameda Labor Council opposed the coal port and they were successful in stopping it.

No Coal in Oakland: a Report on the Campaign

By Margaret Rossoff - No Coal in Oakland, August 2016; image by Brooke Anderson

Many activists have expressed interest in an account of how the No Coal in Oakland campaign was organized.  This article is a response, but is not a history.  It is structured thematically rather than chronologically, and the many amazing activists and organizers are not identified by name.  Some of our initiatives came from organizations and some came from individual activists, but this account does not attempt to credit them, as every idea became a shared project.  Unlike just about every document during the campaign, this is not a collectively written piece.  It was significantly improved by careful readings by several people, for which I am very grateful, but I am responsible for all errors and omissions.  I expect—and hope–others will be writing their own accounts from a variety of perspectives.

I have included many links for documents referred to in this account.  For general background about the campaign, go to NoCoalinOakland.info.  A guide to acronyms is at the end of the article.

Margaret Rossoff
margaretmft@gmail.com

Strategy

No Coal in Oakland’s campaign was focused on persuading the members of the Oakland City Council to ban storage and handling of coal at a bulk export marine terminal to be built on City-owned land.  This would effectively prevent the transport of coal through Oakland and other cities along the rail lines as well as the shipment of coal overseas.

  • Our campaign to get the council members to vote for the ban had several components.  The primary ones were:
  • Direct lobbying with council members.
  • Outreach to Oakland residents, including particularly West Oakland residents and participants in community groups.  This was intended both to influence elected officials through popular opposition, and because we saw our campaign as part of building the larger movement for environmental justice and to contain climate disruption.
  • Insuring that evidence of the dangers of coal was adequately documented and presented to the council, including rebutting misleading claims by the developers.
  • Exploring other routes that might also lead to keeping coal out of Oakland.

This article focuses primarily on the first two aspects of our campaign. 

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.

Union Member Risks Arrest at Arc Logistics, Opposes TPP and Fossil Fuel Exports

By Wes Kempfer - Portland Rising Tide, May 7, 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.

Tim Norgren of Stevenson, WA, and Laborers International Union of North America member is locked to a barrel at Arc Logistics Partners’ Portland Terminal to draw a clear connection between fossil fuel exports and trade agreements like the TPP, and to call for action to put a stop to both.

Tim is supported by the climate justice group Portland Rising Tide. The crowd is gathered at Arc Logistics to support Tim and draw the connections between existing & proposed fossil fuel infrastructure and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretive trade deal being pushed by many politicians including Democrats Senator Wyden, Representative Blumenauer, Representative Bonamici, and President Obama.

Many environmental and labor groups oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the grounds that it is written and promoted by the fossil fuel industry and American Legislative Exchange Council, gives multinational corporations more rights than communities here in the US, sends jobs overseas, and jeopardizes worker and environmental protections around the Pacific Rim.

The AFL-CIO opposes the TPP and is holding a rally today at 4:30pm at the Sentinel Hotel to tell President Obama, who is in Portland to speak on trade agreements, to stand up for workers and the environment. “I’m locked down today in part because climate change is an issue of survival inextricably linked to so-called ‘free trade’ globalization efforts like the TPP.

While many of us strongly appreciate President Obama’s willingness to bring the climate crisis into the national debate, he has been unwilling to connect major fossil fuel exports to the TPP or veto the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Tim Norgren.

With proposals by major Alberta Tar Sands investor Pembina Pipeline Corporation for a propane (derived from fracked gas in Alberta, Canada) export terminal in Portland, the Jordan Cove Natural Gas terminal proposed in Coos Bay, a proposed natural gas terminal in Warrenton, as well as already-operating Arc Logistics and Port Westward oil-by-rail terminals, Oregonians are concerned that the Trans Pacific Partnership will promote more export terminals, send domestic energy overseas to fuel jobs in countries with lower workers’ rights standards, and hasten climate change.

At a time when scientists tell us we need to leave most fossil fuels *in the ground* to prevent disastrous climate change and runaway global warming, this is completely unacceptable. Tim hopes this action will send a message to union leaders and politicians alike that everyday workers want sustainable jobs.

“I’m also taking this action to let my union, the Laborers International Union of North America, know that it has rank and file members who are willing to stand up not only for prevailing wage contracts, but for the survival and rights of all workers, rather than support those who would see minimum wage remain at poverty levels while jobs are freely outsourced to foreign factories with subsistence wages and no safety or emissions standards whatsoever. All they offer us in return is a chance to build infrastructure for an economy based on environmentally destructive resource extraction, and that’s just not sustainable.”

Building Their Own Gallows: The Oil Pipelines

By David Goodner - Truthout, January 20, 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 debate surrounding labor's support for oil pipelines has largely centered on a false "jobs versus climate" dichotomy. But labor's position is also alienating them from their potential allies while strengthening the hand of their sworn enemies.

There's a popular saying on the left that organized labor would build their own gallows if they were offered the jobs, and nowhere is this more true than in labor's support for the environmentally disastrous Keystone XL, Enbridge Sandpiper and Bakken oil pipelines.

As in much of the debate surrounding climate change, proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline, like Teamster president James P. Hoffa, generally argue that short-term job creation and economic growth trump environmental concerns about the long-term fate of the planet.

"America needs more good-paying jobs that support middle-class families. This project supplies them," Hoffa wrote in a letter published by The Detroit News in December 2014. He went on to claim that environmental concerns have been addressed by state and federal regulators, as well as by the oil company itself.

"It will be safer than any other domestic oil pipeline system built under current code," he added.

In reality of course, it is the jobs argument that is overblown, and it is the environmental threat to the survival of every living thing on earth that labor habitually understates or ignores.

The bottom line is there won't be any jobs, or an economy at all, if the planet is no longer hospitable to human life. There's no such thing as a safe oil pipeline because extracting fossil fuels from the ground and burning them into the atmosphere is what causes catastrophic climate change, not accidental oil spills.

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).

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