As protests rage against the Dakota Access Pipeline, Terry O’Sullivan, president of the 500,000-strong Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), sought to reassure his union amidst the violence by penning a staunchly worded letter to his members.
O’Sullivan explained the benefits of the pipeline, calling it “one of the safest and most technologically advanced pipelines in the nation.” According to O’Sullivan, the project employs 1,100 LIUNA members and more than 4,500 Building Trades members.
In the four-page letter, O’Sullivan took the time to express disdain for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the environmentalists who are jeopardizing thousands of union jobs by employing “aggressive tactics that threaten the safety of construction workers, public safety officers, and protestors themselves” while halting pipeline construction. He also likened the protestors to “thugs” and took to task the five unions that have chosen protest over progress.
Much of the opposition to the Pipeline is based on misinformation. The facts are on our side, yet in the past month, we have witnessed vocal opposition from groups, including some self-righteous unions, who know little about the project and have no job equity in it. These unions have sided with THUGS against trade unionists. They are a group of bottom-feeding organizations that are once again trying to destroy our members’ jobs. These job-killing unions are the: Communications Workers of America (CWA), National Nurses United (NNU), Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), American Postal Workers Union (APWU), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
In joining forces with opponents of Dakota Access, these unions have displayed a truly amazing level of hypocrisy and ignorance while threatening the safety and livelihoods of workers who are AFL-CIO and Building Trades members.
He went on to flatly reject the unrealistic “Keep It In The Ground” environmentalist movement that has conveniently attached itself to the Sioux Tribe by “exploiting tribal concerns in an effort to mobilize public opinion against pipeline projects.”
Since O’Sullivan’s letter, protesters have become more brazen in their pipeline blockade efforts. Most recently, Molotov cocktails and rocks meant to cause bodily injury were hurled at police by these environmental activists, resulting in the arrest of 141 protestors. Among those arrested, one protestor even fired off three rounds from a firearm. Luckily, no police reported injuries.
The protestor’s goal of shutting down the Dakota pipeline has a far-reaching impact that affects the livelihoods of thousands of Texans, especially in the Houston area where pipeline companies employ over 10,000 people. When even unions understand that these protests are a bad and dangerous idea, that is the most telling sign of all.