February 14, 2014

Pro-Keystone XL Labor’s Short Term Strategy: Fund Union-Busting

keystoneunionsSeveral construction labor unions have decided to lend their support to the Keystone XL. Though critics charge that the pipeline will lead to a drastic increase in carbon emissions, the unions, including Laborers International Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers, have endorsed the project in exchange for several thousand short-term jobs and only 35 permanent jobs.

Trading a few jobs now for environmental destruction might seem like short-sighted strategy, but apparently such thinking runs deep in both unions.

According to a search of Department of Labor records, both the Laborers and the Engineers provided the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest anti-union lobbying group in the country, with $50,000 each:

keystonexlunionsCritics have already argued that union support for the Keystone XL is self-defeating, given the prospects of global climate change and recent attempts by industry to weaken green-labor coalitions.

The unions informed Republic Report that the money to the Chamber relates only to an effort to pass infrastructure spending projects across the country. Nevertheless, the Chamber spends tens of millions to defeat union legislative priorities, and has worked to weaken Project Labor Agreements that are vital to the construction trades. In 2011, the Chamber was caught soliciting a contract to infiltrate and spy on unions, including the AFL-CIO.

Last year, both the Laborers and the Engineers endorsed Gov. Chris Christie, an avowed opponent of public sector unions, thereby splitting the labor movement in the election.

While those concerned with catastrophic climate change may have been disheartened by the pro-Keystone XL unions, short-term alliances with anti-union forces appear to be part and parcel to their strategy.