October 6, 2016

Labor Unions To Texas Pipeline Protesters: Stop Hurting American Workers


America’s top five labor unions – representing some 3.5 million workers – are today blasting the pipeline protests in Texas and North Dakota, writing a letter calling on President Obama to “stand up for American workers” and allow construction to continue:

Five of the nation’s largest labor unions asked President Obama on Monday to “stand up for American workers” and allow construction of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota to continue. The statement was co-signed by the presidents of the International Union of Operating Engineers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Laborers’ International Union of North America, United Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

This week, environmental activists protesting the Trans-Pecos Pipeline in West Texas joined a “solidarity march” with those opposing the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota, both of which are being built by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners:

West Texas activists are continuing their face-off against Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Trans-Pecos Pipeline. Now, they’re joining a broader Native American-led movement protesting the same company. At least 100 people from the Big Bend region and across Texas gathered in Alpine on Friday for a march against the Trans-Pecos Pipeline, a protest also billed as a “solidarity march” with Native Americans opposing the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota. … 

The labor leaders make a compelling case on why the construction needs to proceed. After years of review, the pipeline was previously permitted after it was determined that it poses no threat to cultural and historical sites, despite allegations from protestors. The current delay caused by these activists is creating “hardships” for the families of 8,000 union workers building the pipeline. According to their letter:

We write  to  you  today  on  behalf  of  the  nearly  3.5  million  members  of  our  trade  unions  as  well  as  the  8,000 members currently working on the Dakota Access Pipeline Project, who will be impacted by the outcome of the Administration’s reconsideration of federal construction permits issued in July. … 

The project is being built with an all-union workforce and workers are earning family-sustaining wages, with family health care and retirement contributions. However, the project delays are already putting members out of work and causing hardships for thousands of families. … 

Our members make careers out of jobs created by projects like Dakota Access, and our jobs depend on the investments of conscientious employers. If companies like Energy Transfer Partners cannot trust that the regulatory process outlined in federal law will be upheld, who will continue to invest in America? The family sustaining jobs and benefits that this project provides are in jeopardy.

West Texas activists are taking a page out of the Dakota Access Pipeline protestors’ playbook by trying to block the energy infrastructure that would bring a windfall of jobs and new investments to communities badly in need of both. As organized labor has powerfully described, continued opposition to these much-needed projects stands in the way of economic and energy development that our country needs.