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Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.

Building Trades, AFL-CIO Renew Support for Pipeline Expansion in Broadly Reported Statements

The AFL-CIO and its President Richard Trumka have enthusiastically endorsed the expansion of the nation’s pipeline system at winter meetings in Florida.  And while no direct mention of the Keystone XL pipeline project was made in President Richard Trumka’s official statement, it goes without saying that the AFL-CIO is hoping to boost President Obama’s chances of moving the project — which has been protested by environmentalists — forward with haste.

Keystone XL presents a rare case of union leadership being on the same side of an issue as some of the nation’s largest corporations and Right-leaning interest groups, such as Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council. Those groups see booming business opportunities for pipeline expansion while the AFL-CIO is focused squarely on the massive job-creation potential of a project such as Keystone XL.

The AFL-CIO may have gone out of its way to not specifically mention Keystone, but the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) of the AFL-CIO makes no qualms about the potential the project holds:

“America’s Building Trades Unions are pleased that the AFL-CIO Executive Council today approved a resolution in support of a comprehensive energy policy that includes the expansion of our nation’s pipeline infrastructure, including the Keystone XL pipeline.  The construction of this project represents an immediate opportunity for 20,000 union members to get back to work and provide for their families.

The U.S. construction industry has been mired in a depression for over 4 years now, and shovel-ready projects like Keystone XL and other energy infrastructure projects are badly needed.  Today was a victory for moving this important project forward and we applaud the Federation for standing up for jobs”

The New York Times was quick to connect the dots arguing that BCTD’s statements clarify what the AFL-CIO meant when they mention the construction of new pipelines as well as a focus on the repair of existing ones.

The United Steelworkers (USW) have agreed to support Keystone XL so long as the steel used on the project is domestic.

The President of the United Mine Workers, Cecil E. Roberts, backed the project as well telling NYT,

“I believe the oil transferred from Canada is going to make it to some final destination no matter what we do in the United States. I think the brothers and sisters in the building trades in the U.S. should have the jobs.”

The Sierra Club, too, is warming up to labor’s interest in pipeline development.  The environmental club’s executive director, Michael Brune, responded to the AFL-CIO’s statement saying,

“There have been tensions over this. The statement doesn’t resolve the tensions. But it is an attempt to reframe the debate to highlight areas where we can make common cause and create jobs and cut pollution.”


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