America's top union boss isn't happy that President Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline his first day in office, and doesn't think promises of 'retraining' programs are much consolation for union workers who will find themselves unemployed.
"If you destroy 100 jobs in Greene County, Pennsylvania, where I grew up, and you create 100 jobs in California, it doesn't do those 100 families much good," said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka in comments which aired Sunday evening on "Axios on HBO."
Axios notes that there are significant tensions between environmentalists, the Biden administration team addressing climate change, and segments of the labor movement. By canceling the Keystone XL project, approximately 1,000 existing union jobs and 10,000 protected construction jobs are estimated to have been lost.
Trumka, who fully supported Biden's run for president, told Axios' Jonathan Swan that he thought Biden's decision to cancel the pipeline project his first day in office, without pairing it with an initiative that would create as many (or more) jobs as would be lost, was a bad move.
"If you're looking at a pipeline and you're saying we're going to put it down, now what are you going to do to create the same good-paying jobs in that area?" asked Trumka, who "appeared to be uneasy - pausing for a few seconds and ducking the question — when asked whether he was comfortable with Biden's plan to ban fracking on federal lands," according to the report.
AFL-CIO president @RichardTrumka to @jonathanvswan on Biden canceling the Keystone XL pipeline: "I wish he hadn't done that on the first day...It did and will cost us jobs...I wish he had paired that more carefully [with creating jobs].” #AxiosOnHBO pic.twitter.com/3Ba6F6g8GT— Axios (@axios) February 7, 2021
More via Axios:
The bottom line: Trumka, who started his career as a coal miner, signaled he will have no patience for promises of retraining programs as consolation for union workers forced from their jobs.
- "You know, when they laid off at the mines back in Pennsylvania, they told us they were going to train us to be computer programmers."
- "And I said, 'Where are the computer programmer jobs at?' 'Uh, they're in, uh, Oklahoma and they're in Vegas and they're here.' And I said, 'So, in other words, what we're going to be is unemployed miners and unemployed computer programmers as well.'"
People "love where they live and they love the people in that area," Trumka said. "And to them, that's home. And that's their culture."
- "I think what doesn't get understood quite enough in the country, particularly in D.C. politics, is that that culture is very, very important to the people who live there."
Meanwhile, Biden's climate 'guy' - John Kerry, suggested that unemployed pipeline workers can just 'make solar panels.'
John Kerry—who flies in private jets, owned a 76-foot yacht and several mansions—has the carbon footprint of a small nation.— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) January 27, 2021
Yet he tells energy workers to "make solar panels" when the Biden administration kills their jobs. pic.twitter.com/QhK2FVykxU