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September 19, 2016

Big Labor And The Environmentalist Left Split On Dakota Access Pipeline – But Where’s Steyer?

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Last week, the AFL-CIO released a statement in support of the Dakota Access Pipeline “as part of a comprehensive energy policy that creates jobs.” This is a major split from the Environmentalist Left, which has made the pipeline its new pet project.

In the statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also took a swipe at environmentalists:

The Dakota Access Pipeline is providing over 4,500 high-quality, family supporting jobs. Furthermore, trying to make climate policy by attacking individual construction projects is neither effective nor fair to the workers involved.

Ouch. This is far cry from the AFL-CIO’s $50 million cooperation with environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer earlier this year.

Of course, Steyer’s work with Big Labor upset many rank-and-file union employees from the start. That could be why Steyer has been conspicuously silent on the Environmentalist Left’s new wedge issue.

The Huffington Post reports that AFL-CIO’s support for the Dakota Access Pipeline is quite simply answering “to its member unions”:

The AFL-CIO has said in recent years that it wants to link arms with other major liberal players on issues like civil rights and racial and environmental justice. But it also must answer to its member unions. Some of those unions ― particularly in the construction trades ― support energy projects like the Dakota Access pipeline because they create jobs for union members.

While the AFL-CIO claims it’s listening to its members this time, this latest twist will add more tension to the rift between Big Labor and the Environmentalist Left that threatens to tear apart the Democratic Party’s infrastructure.

Core News asks: will Tom Steyer take a stand on the Environmentalist Left’s pet cause, or will he hide behind his new alliance with Big Labor?