Union leaders: Man, this Keystone XL decision just “reeks of politics”
posted at 7:21 pm on March 11, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
Indeed. When even the usually avidly pro-labor MSNBC host Ed Schultz suddenly discovers that it’s in his interest to throw his union pals under the bus on the Keystone XL pipeline, you know something’s up. Via The Hill:
Labor leaders have long backed the pipeline, arguing it would create thousands of construction jobs and boost the economy. But many of them have been muted in their criticism of President Obama, for fear of opening a rift with the White House over the controversial project.
That seemed to change on Tuesday, as the presidents of building trade unions linked the delay of Keystone to broader anger at the administration within the labor movement.
“Our anger doesn’t just stop with Keystone XL,” Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) told The Hill. “We are extremely angry about the Affordable Care Act and the fact that there is 12.8 percent unemployment in construction.”
“Are [lawmakers] really for jobs and the middle class?” O’Sullivan said. “This whole thing reeks of politics.”
Big Labor has generally been on board with the pipeline’s construction from the get-go, but as a small yet merry band of extremely well-monied and out-of-touch eco-radicals have gotten increasingly vocal about disrupting Keystone XL, unions are evidently starting to feel the need to throw some of their own not inconsiderable donor weight around.
“I urge the president of the United States to get on with it and approve that permit” to build the pipeline, said Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, an alliance of 14 unions representing workers in the U.S. and Canada. He spoke at a news conference at a Washington hotel during the building trades’ legislative conference. “I think the White House needs to worry about November,” he said when asked what he and other building trades union officials would do if the White House doesn’t act soon.
One can only hope. Even after jerking Canada around for years and repeating incessant reports offering the same pro-pipeline conclusions, the Obama administration can’t even seem to manage to summon the political will to throw several vulnerable pro-Keystone XL Senate Democrats that bone — although, the Obama administration could be saving a thumbs-up decision for the opportune moment, since they’ve now waited this long already anyway. There has been at least one report that the Obama administration is thinking about lighting this candle within the next month or two, and that could be a timely boon to Dems like Landrieu and Begich.