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January 19th, 2012
Union Controversy Over Keystone Pipeline

 

UNION SPLIT

U.S. unions are bitterly split on whether Keystone XL should be built. The conflict has hamstrung the Blue-Green Alliance, the main group unifying union and environmental efforts. Because it contains unions on both sides of the question, the alliance has been silent and a spokesperson said the group did not have a position.

 

Two transit unions have opposed the deal, arguing that the climate impact of extracting and burning an additional 900,000 barrels per day of tar-sands oil outweighs the benefits of short-term job creation. But high unemployment among members has motivated four U.S. construction unions to push for the project.

 

Calling the pipeline a huge step in the wrong direction, Larry Hanley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union said, "The scientific evidence is that it will contribute to more climate change and create a hostile environment on our planet." 

Tar sands mining produces a mixture of hydrocarbons and sand, the consistency of peanut butter. It must be heated to mine it and diluted with other fuel to pipe it. Processing it into oil requires yet more energy, meaning that carbon emissions to create a barrel of tar sands oil are much greater than for conventional oil.

 

Expanding tar sands production will "impede our country’s and the world’s efforts to transition to a green and more sustainable economy," said the ATU and the Transport Workers (TWU) in a joint statement, urging Obama to reject the pipeline permit. ATU represents 190,000 bus and train workers in the U.S. and Canada; TWU represents 130,000.

 

The transit workers’ stand is "huge," said Joe Uehlein of the Labor Network for Sustainability, an independent network of labor activists involved in environmental efforts.

 

"A lot of unions have policy positions on climate," said Uehlein, a former secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO's Industrial Union Department. "This is different. Unions are taking a stand in a very direct way on something that isn’t theoretical." 

The transit unions were immediately attacked by the Laborers (LIUNA).

 

"It’s time for ATU and TWU to come out from under the skirts of delusional environmental groups which stand in the way of creating good, much needed American jobs," said President Terry O’Sullivan. LIUNA threatened to no longer support legislation that benefits transit workers.

 

Union activists said the Laborers’ harsh outburst may have been effective in deterring other unions from opposing the pipeline publicly.

 

GREEN JOBS?

Despite attacks, the transit unions have held firm in their opposition.

 

"We need jobs, but not ones based on increasing our reliance on tar sands oil," the unions wrote, advocating instead a green New Deal with jobs in renewable energy and conservation.

 

"There is no shortage of water and sewage pipelines that need to be fixed or replaced, bridges and tunnels that are in need of emergency repair," the transit unions stated, highlighting some of the construction unions’ bread and butter.

 

Why are transit unions taking this stand? "Transit in many ways is the solution to a lot of the big issues we’re confronted with, including the fact that we have global warming," said Hanley.

 

He said labor has to look beyond its own interests to support its allies’ issues as well. "We don’t think we would be true to ourselves if we only tried to build alliances that would help us," Hanley said, "although this is one where there is common interest." 

"The transit workers did it for the right reasons," Uehlein said. "Solidarity has to be thought of in the context of broader human solidarity."

 

 

(SOURCE) 


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Comments:


- 2012-01-20
maybe the transit union didnt think this trough the next time they need fuel in their buses may everybody can get of and piss in the tank,see how far down the road that gets them.
by louis



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