Home > Columnists > Mr. 2% Comes Out for Keystone XL | Stanley Heller

Mr. 2% Comes Out for Keystone XL | Stanley Heller

Feb. 17 Update.

Here’s what Trumka said about climate change and jobs at a “Good Jobs, Green Jobs”conference on Feb. 11. He said merely saying that things should be shut down “poisons the well politically.” He didn’t utter the words “Keystone XL,” but what else? There’s wasn’t one “boo.” Not one person shouted out “what about the pipeline?” Trumka didn’t say anything about phasing out coal burning plants and finding new work for coal miners. At 38:36 he called for a “working and middle class climate.”

coalWHAT?

Feb. 8. Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President, may not be in the 1%, but he’s close behind. He made a salary of $272,000 last year along with nearly $16,000 of “other disbursements.” If he retired tomorrow he’d get 60% of that as a pension for his 14 years of “service” as a top AFL-CIO officer.

I have the gall to connect his exalted position to his recent decisions to help destroy the climate.

In These Times reports, “On a recent conference call with reporters, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka endorsed two initiatives reviled by green groups: the Keystone XL pipeline and new natural gas export terminals.” ITT says he said, “There’s no environmental reason that [the pipeline] can’t be done safely while at the same time creating jobs.”
He’s talking the same way as the State Department report, talking only about the safety of the pipeline itself and ignoring the catastrophic danger of pouring umpteen gigatons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

And the number of jobs to be gained from the pipeline? Hold on to your hats. The State Department says there will be about 2,000 constructions jobs to build it and a whopping 50 permanent jobs to maintain it. (Of course, that doesn’t take into account all the jobs created when it bursts from time to time and requires a massive clean-up). For that pitiful number of jobs Mr. 2% is willing to risk what James Hansen has said will be “game over” for the climate.
Trumka also boosted the idea of more natural gas exports. It’s a fracking shame.

The ITT piece said that Trumka is doing this to keep the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department happy. Maybe he’s angling for a position with the Natural Gas Alliance.

I know some climate activists treat organized labor with kid gloves ignoring union support for unlimited mining and pipelines in the hope that “someday” they’ll be able to get labor to see the light. After what Trumka said this week I wouldn’t bother. Time is too short to try to cater to a trade union movement whose 2% leaders have abandoned collective bargaining and strikes in favor of 200% reliance on the Democratic Party which itself is a slave to the bankers.
Oh, before the pork choppers accuse me being “anti-union,” recall I’ve been a union member since 1969 and was teacher union president in West Haven, Connecticut, for seven years.

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