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Washington, D.C. (January 20, 2012) – LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – said today it has left the BlueGreen Alliance in response to job-killing attacks on the Keystone XL pipeline by some of the alliance’s labor and environmentalist members.
“AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently said there was a divide in the labor movement over this project,” LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan said. “That is an understatement. That divide is as deep and wide as the Grand Canyon. We’re repulsed by some of our supposed brothers and sisters lining up with job killers like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to destroy the lives of working men and women.”
O’Sullivan said Keystone is only the beginning of what will likely be a protracted struggle over major projects to build and strengthen America’s energy infrastructure. “LIUNA plans to unite with the support of the strong and proud unions of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department to fight for good jobs that build America and strengthen our energy resources,” he said. “We will not stand idly by, nor will the Building Trades.”
In addition to expansion of solar, wind and geothermal power, LIUNA favors expansion of other energy resources, such as clean coal, natural gas and nuclear power.
“We believe in protecting the planet, but we must also care about the people on it,” O’Sullivan said. “We believe green jobs must put green in workers’ pockets.”
The Keystone XL pipeline would have created thousands of family-supporting construction jobs. Among those opposing it were environmental groups and some unions, whose members had no jobs to gain or lose on the project. Pipeline opponents acknowledged their real issue was with oil sands development in Canada, which will continue regardless of whether the pipeline is built. “Their real target wasn’t the pipeline, but the oil sands. They missed that target – the oil sands will be developed whether Keystone XL is built or not – but hit tens of thousands of working men and women,” O’Sullivan said. “It is impossible for LIUNA to stand side-by-side with these groups. Construction workers are struggling with 16 percent unemployment and 1.3 million of them are jobless. The Keystone XL was not just a pipeline to them, it was a lifeline.”
O’Sullivan stressed LIUNA’s concerns were not with the leadership or staff of the BlueGreen Alliance. “Executive Director Dave Foster and his team have done historic and groundbreaking work to highlight the need for good green jobs under trying circumstances,” he said. LIUNA members have long done the work of environmental remediation, making buildings and communities safe from hazardous waste, lead and asbestos contamination.
LIUNA members have long done the work of environmental remediation, making buildings and communities safe from hazardous waste, lead and asbestos contamination. The union has led the
development of training programs for workers in emerging job sectors such as building weatherization and retrofitting and has joined with allies across the country to fight for investment to make the projects possible. And the union has been on the forefront of calling for cap and trade legislation with curbs on carbon emissions exceeding those backed by other unions and the Obama Administration. “The fight for comprehensive climate change legislation to curb global warming is challenging and won’t be won easily, but is the best, if not only way, to create and protect jobs while protecting the planet,” O’Sullivan said. “Sadly, instead of facing that challenge, the environmental movement and some unions have abandoned this mission and instead chosen to become job killers instead of job creators.”