At least a few unions that proudly endorsed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have had second thoughts after the Keystone XL pipeline’s cancellation. It would be an intelligent guess to say a few more probably will as this administration continues to implement its energy policy and hammer down on requirements related to rejoining the Paris Accords. But don’t worry, said newly-minted Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Hopefully, there will be green energy jobs to replace the ones union workers had. Someday.
Special Climate Envoy John Kerry echoed these comments, saying that union workers in the fossil fuel industry will now have an opportunity to make better choices. Not everyone can marry a ketchup heiress, so his perspective may be a little skewed. In an interview with Axios, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka struggled to explain the national union federation’s rationale to endorse Biden and Harris, and why it convinced tens of thousands of union workers to vote for them. Following the election, Trumka said:
Biden’s path to the White House ran through America’s labor movement. Initial toplines from our post-election survey show union members went 58 percent for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. While the general public supported Biden by three points, our members favored him by 21 points.
Talk about convincing people to vote against their self-interest. But the AFL-CIO did more than advocate members vote for the Biden-Harris ticket. According to the now-infamous story in Time, the union federation fully participated in the “shadow campaign” to “fortify” the 2020 election.
The pact was formalized in a terse, little-noticed joint statement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO published on Election Day. Both sides would come to see it as a sort of implicit bargain-inspired by the summer’s massive, sometimes destructive racial-justice protests-in which the forces of labor came together with the forces of capital to keep the peace and oppose Trump’s assault on democracy.
That’s some epic gaslighting. This pact was launched back in 2019, according to the article, and it included many other groups. Participation in the pact had nothing to do with President Trump opposing the election results or the pandemic. For example, the Chamber of Commerce couldn’t stand President Trump’s trade policies that put American workers first and caused wages to rise for the first time in years. The administration’s tough stance on immigration compounded the Chamber’s opposition by preventing employers from importing cheap foreign labor. Trump’s China policy was also a hurdle, especially as it became more punitive as the national security threat the Chinese Communist Party poses became evident.
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It was a senior adviser to the AFL-CIO president that began circulating memos and hosting strategy sessions in D.C. to defeat President Trump. That is why it is so fun to watch the deliciously uncomfortable time Trumka has in this interview about President Biden’s early actions against the energy industry:
He also spends nearly three minutes insulting his members’ intelligence. Biden was clear on the campaign trail that he would end Keystone XL and would end fracking on federal land. Biden ended the pipeline on day 1. Trumka’s only objection was messaging. Fracking on federal lands is currently subject to a 60-day pause while his radical secretary of the interior is confirmed. That nominee, Representative Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), was endorsed by the Sunrise Movement, the climate activist group that endorsed Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her Green New Deal. It a A safe bet that the temporary ban will become permanent.
Biden’s proposed secretary of energy is no better. Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm worked with the Obama administration to flush millions down the toilet on green jobs and green energy projects. Like Obama’s shovel-ready jobs, Granholm’s green jobs never materialized, despite millions in subsidies and grants.
As the leader of the AFL-CIO, Trumka has two primary concerns: density and dues. He wants more union members to pay dues so his coffers stay full, allowing the union association to continue to wield political power. Trumka doesn’t need many new green jobs to expand membership and more than likely doesn’t expect them. As Reason Magazine editor at large Nick Gillespie noted, Biden’s green job canard is the same promise of a union jobs program he has been making since the 1970s. I would argue the jobs promise was not Trumka’s primary motivation for supporting the Biden administration.
Instead, Trumka likely backed Biden because the Democrat supports the PRO Act. This legislation will severely weaken right-to-work laws and require workers who elect not to join a union to still pay the union fees and other costs. The act would also provide features of card-check neutrality in union elections and a whole host of other union-backed proposals. It also has elements of California’s AB-5 that will cripple the gig economy and limit independent contractors. Even though California voters gutted AB-5 last November, many of AB-5’s provisions remain in the PRO Act.
The AFL-CIO also has several affiliated public unions, including teachers unions and the federal employees union. The Biden administration is providing job security for the teachers’ unions by rolling back and limiting school choice. These are the same unions that are preventing children from returning to school all over the country. The federal bureaucracy will also certainly grow under a Biden administration. Last year, 34.8 percent of government employees were members of a public-sector union. Another 6.3 percent of private-sector workers were in a union. The total number of union workers decreased by almost half a million. Unions are bleeding, and they look to Biden to reverse that trend.
Finally, the Biden administration fully supports a $15 minimum wage. This policy is a giveback to unions like the SEIU that has very little to with a “living wage.” Instead, service jobs are some of the first that will succumb to automation. The administration and the AFL-CIO seem not to care about the 1.4 million jobs the CBO says will be lost due to the wage hike. Because dues are a function of wages, this will preserve the coffers of the SEIU to help maintain their political power.
During Monday’s press briefing, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki about the green jobs Biden has . She said there is some consensus around infrastructure investments that will create jobs. She should have just said, “shovel-ready.” Infrastructure jobs can take years from the time money is allocated by Congress because of permitting and other requirements. During the Obama administration, Press Secretary Jay Carney sounded an awful lot like Psaki:
“There are out-of-work construction workers around the country who are ready to go to work on these projects, and we have the opportunity here — Congress does, if it passes the American Jobs Act — to put those Americans to work.”
It didn’t work then, and it is not going to work now:
“As a rule of thumb, you’re looking at three years for a project, really going from the time the federal government says we have the money and want to spend it,” [UC-Berkeley Professor William] Ibbs said. But that’s for the easiest, simplest projects, such as building a road through an uninhabited piece of land. “The politicians really don’t understand how cumbersome the process is these days,” Ibbs said. “Environmental permitting, especially on road projects can take years. You’re hiring attorneys, not really shoveling a lot of dirt.”
A teachers union’s first responsibility is protecting teachers, not educating children. Union leadership’s primary goal is maintaining their financial and political power, not protecting workers. The AFL-CIO was part of a scheme to elect Joe Biden and sacrificed a growing economy for a government-funded economy. It exchanged energy independence for power under the green jobs promise. It bent to support outrageous government spending and increasing regulation. For working families, this means a dollar with less value, energy that costs more, and jobs that will never materialize, if history is any guide. And a president who has had fifty years to make a government jobs program work, but he never has.