Labor Union Calls Out “Bottom-Feeding Organizations” Supporting Keep-It-In-The-Ground
The chief of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) blasted “Keep-It-In-The-Ground” activists who have been protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline and the unions who support them, explaining how they are undermining job opportunities for thousands of American laborers whose careers are dependent on the pipeline’s completion.
President of LIUNA Terry O’Sullivan wrote an open letter to laborers and their families to clearly state that the protestors are no friends of the American worker. LIUNA represents over 5,600 workers whose jobs are connected to the project, and “has been a vocal advocate for the Dakota Access Pipeline from its inception” according to O’Sullivan. The union leader did not mince his words in summing up his contempt for the misguided activists: “In essence, these protesters are acting like thugs.”
LIUNA strongly condemned the protestors whose activities include “trespassing on active construction sites, destroying equipment, intimidating construction workers and… risking injury to themselves and union workers on the project” according to the union, which bluntly denounced the tactics.
“LIUNA has no quarrel with peaceful, civil disobedience; our movement has a long and proud history of using such tactics, and we will always defend the rights of others to do so. But we will not tolerate actions that put our members in harm’s way.”
This recent outcry is consistent with Ohio laborers voicing their support over proposed pipelines as well, and in both cases the story is the same—men and women are simply fighting for their jobs. In Ohio, unions support the Utopia East Pipeline which consists of “900 local union construction jobs” promised to Ohioans from Kinder Morgan, which is a $500 million project to transport ethane and propane from eastern Ohio to the Ohio/Michigan border.
Divide between “job-killing unions” comes into focus
Furthermore, O’Sullivan chastised the members of five other unions that have opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline, calling them “bottom-feeding organizations” and “job-killing unions,” underscoring the growing divide between the building and construction trades and other national unions, which have aligned themselves with the anti-fracking movement.
According to the letter:
“Much of the opposition to the Pipeline is based on misinformation. The facts are on our side, yet in the past month, we have witnessed vocal opposition from groups, including some self-righteous unions, who know little about the project and have no job equity in it. These unions have sided with THUGS against trade unionists. They are a group of bottom-feeding organizations that are once again trying to destroy our members’ jobs. These job-killing unions are the: Communications Workers of America (CWA), National Nurses United (NNU), Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), American Postal Workers Union (APWU), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).”
LIUNA is not the only labor organization to speak out against the keep-it-in-the-ground movement, although it has done so in perhaps the harshest terms yet. Previously, the AFL-CIO admonished the extreme environmentalists for interfering with the Dakota Access Pipeline. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote in a statement last month that “it is fundamentally unfair to hold union members’ livelihoods and their families’ financial security hostage.” He also added that “trying to make climate policy by attacking individual construction projects is neither effective nor fair to the workers involved.”
The AFL-CIO position on the pipeline was not always so certain. Earlier this year, the organization announced its intent form a partnership and $50 million Super PAC with Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge fund manager who has bankrolled keep-it-in-the-ground efforts with millions of dollars. Upon learning of this partnership, the Building Trades member unions of the AFL-CIO swiftly issued a letter stating their displeasure with the decision, since Steyer’s environmentalist agenda, if successful, would kill blue-collar jobs across the country. They made it clear that any association with the keep-it-in-the-ground campaign would be a clear betrayal of organized labor:
“…it saddens us that the very labor movement we have fought for and supported for over a century seems to have lost sight of its core mission and has moved away from us and our membership in the interest of head line grabbing political expediency.”
With the AFL-CIO now squarely back in its rightful role representing the workers who will benefit from the Dakota Access Pipeline construction, it needs to put its house in order by keeping the five aforementioned anti-pipeline unions out of the political fray.
Keep-It-In-The-Ground “not completely popular”
This recent rejection of fringe unions and marginalized environmental activism is quickly picking up steam as Bill McKibben was recently caught complaining that his fringe anti-fracking agenda is “not completely popular” with democrats. Additionally, leaked emails from the Clinton campaign showed that her camp is also siding with the LiUNA and the AFL-CIO, telling groups behind the Keep It in the Ground campaign to “get a life”.
In fact, Clinton went on to say that she wants to join LiUNA and the AFL-CIO and defend natural gas:
“Bernie Sanders is getting lots of support from the most radical environmentalists because he’s out there every day bashing the Keystone pipeline. And, you know, I’m not into it for that. My view is, I want to defend natural gas. … I want to defend fracking under the right circumstances.”
Manufacturing is just starting to come back to life, thanks to fracking, but we need energy infrastructure projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline for it to really pick of steam. These pipeline projects are deserving of the full support of the American labor force. Americans have much to gain, and too much to lose, to take any other position.