|Yesterday's protest in Chicago against Trump's Paris pull-out. (M. Klonsky pic)|
AFL-CIO Pres. Richard Trumka, responding, I suppose, to pressure from Democratic leadership, spoke out Thursday, against the U.S. pull-out from the Paris Climate Agreement.
“Pulling out of the Paris climate agreement is a decision to abandon a cleaner future powered by good jobs. A deteriorating environment is not the only thing at stake here. When our leaders isolate America from the rest of the world, it hurts our ability to raise incomes for working families and achieve fairness in the global economy.”But Trumka's statement rings a little hollow after already selling out the labor movement and the Standing Rock water protectors on the Dakota Access Pipeline and XL for pipeline jobs. While Trumka has been a strong critic of Trump's who supported Clinton in the election, he has also indicated to POTUS that he's open to dealing for pipeline jobs. Trump was happy to oblige after making some demagogic promises to keep West VA's coal operators in business and keep companies like Carrier from exporting jobs to Mexico. He was lying on both counts.
He succeeded in repressing the movement at Standing Rock and gave the green light to Energy Transfer Partners to restart operations that were temporary held up by the Obama administration.
Before the pipeline has even become fully operational, hundreds of gallons of oil have already been leaking out in North and South Dakota. Keystone XL spilled 540,000 gallons last year.
Even without Trumka's support, other unions have been consistent in speaking out for climate defense and many union folks provided support for the NoDAPL movement and are speaking out on Paris.
Within the AFL-CIO itself. National Nurses United (NNU) has had members on the ground at Standing Rock protests and others around the country have participated in a national day of action. Nurses are worried that among the deadly consequence of climate change is the spread of dangerous diseases.
NNU isn’t alone. Workers of America (CWA), the Amalgamated Transit Union, the United Electrical Workers, SEIU and other public employees unions have have been speaking out on climate change and in support of NoDAPL and NoXL back under the Obama administration.
“By withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, President Trump and his self-interested political allies are killing the creation of new industries and jobs,” Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, said. “Already, in the United States, clean energy jobs vastly outnumber fossil fuel jobs, with solar and wind energy at the forefront.”I'm glad to hear Trumka's oppositional voice on Paris. But his vacillations on climate protection, reveal the corruption of what's left of an American labor aristocracy, still tied to backwards productive forces, and the stark divide between parts of American labor and today’s social justice movements.
Yes, job protection is a central part of the role of the unions. And we can't just write off, for example, the 51,000 workers employed in the coal industry. They and others working in fossil-fuel sectors, need a federal safety-net, jobs and job retraining in green energy production at a livable wage, as we as a society make the transition from the second-wave economy.