With less than transparency, the AFL-CIO just issued a statement endorsing “expanding the nation’s pipeline system.” Although it did not explicitly endorse the Keystone XL pipeline, the labor federation nevertheless managed to extend its blessing to the project while hiding behind vague generalities. However, the logic of its position is unambiguous: the federation is in favor of extending pipelines in general and without qualification; the Keystone XL is a pipeline. Therefore logic compels us to infer that the federation supports the extension of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The duplicity of the gesture is entirely intentional. The building trades unions have embraced the pipeline and have lobbied the AFL-CIO to do the same. However, the AFL-CIO would prefer not to alienate its environmental allies, who strongly oppose the pipeline. For this reason the federation refrains from mentioning the Keystone XL by name. But its vague generality is just enough cover to provide President Obama with an excuse to support the pipeline, which his administration’s State Department has already secretly embraced. Obama can now point to disunity among his liberal supporters as a justification for ignoring them. He can do exactly what the corporations want while pretending to be unable to satisfy the conflicting and inconsistent demands of the liberal left. The AFL-CIO hides behind language, and Obama hides behind the AFL-CIO.
~ from AFL-CIO’s Own Oil Disaster by Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer ~
In a nutshell, the above snippet exemplifies why I changed my political affiliation from red to green. Though I continue to agree with many socialist concepts and policies, I more fully endorse the green vision for the world.
From my perspective, one of the big bugaboos with viewing the world from a strictly economic perspective has been born out again and again by organized labor. When jobs are dangled before their eyes, any other concerns are swept aside. So what if the Keystone Pipeline might mean grave environmental danger? That danger might create more union jobs too!
This narrow focus on jobs and economics has served as a continual barrier between the labor and environmental movements. Greens tend to be suspicious of labor types because there have been many instances when labor lines up with the greens only to abandon them because a few economic tidbits are thrown their way. The politicians who offer these tidbits often don't deliver the goods, but they understand that the offer itself is enough to cause labor to switch sides!
And it is not that greens don't understand economic ramifications either. The difference is that labor -- like the corporate world itself -- focuses almost exclusively on short-term benefits -- the number of jobs available today. They ignore the long-term implications like the overall costs of certain projects to society and the planet as a whole.
Yes, supporting a new project like the Keystone Pipeline will mean more jobs for the members of the AFL-CIO, but at what costs to everyone else? That's a question they refuse to entertain!