Richard Trumka, Head Of AFL-CIO, Criticizes Biden For Keystone Pipeline Permit Cancelation

richard trumka keystone

The head of America’s largest union, Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, voiced his disappointment at President Biden’s revoking of the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

During an interview Sunday on “Axios on HBO,” Trumka said he believed it was a mistake for Biden because “it will cost jobs and will cost more down the road.”

Trumka went on to say that he wished that Biden had talked more about pairing job creation with the cancelation of pipeline jobs, rather than just canceling jobs with no backstop for the newly-unemployed workers.

“I wish he had paired that more carefully with the thing that he did second by saying, ‘Here’s where we’re creating jobs. We can do mine reclamation. We can fix leaks. We can fix seeps and create hundreds of thousands of jobs doing that stuff.’”

Despite the criticism of Biden’s move on Keystone, Trumka remains a big supporter of the new President.

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Biden Turning His Back On Reliable Union Votes?

Cancelation of the Keystone XL Pipeline permit came as a huge blow to rank and file union members.

According to Edison research,  57% of union households voted for Joe Biden. And Biden has always portrayed himself as a friend to labor. 

Other labor unions have come out to criticize the cancelation of a project that many have waited for for more than a decade, and had promised to create thousands of union jobs.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) also expressed disappointment in the Keystone decision, and stated that they felt the cancelation “will kill thousands of good-paying #UNION jobs.”

The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters have also stated that, “Sadly, the Biden administration has now put thousands of union workers out of work.” 

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Long Fight To Build The Keystone XL Pipeline

The Keystone XL Pipeline has appeared to be a political football for at least a decade, depending on who occupies the White House.

It was proposed in 2008 to parallel an already existing pipeline, but the Democrat Obama administration twice blocked construction after urging from environmental groups.

Donald Trump issued an executive order to allow the project to go forward on his fourth day in office. 

Richard Trumka echoed the thought that the cancelation would cause the loss of 11,000 jobs presently and may effect another 60,000.

However, those numbers are in dispute.

Jane Kleeb, founder of a group in Nebraska fighting the pipeline, and Chair of the Nebraska Democrat Party, says that TransCanada, the company constructing the pipeline, has played with the numbers regarding how many jobs the pipeline would actually generate.

She says that TransCanada started out by saying, “They started out at a million, then went down to 10,000,” and the numbers went down from there when the company actually sought permits from the relevant County Boards.

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Newly Laid Off Workers Are Feeling The Effects

While some are pleased with the Biden administration’s action on the pipeline, there are many more that are not.

In a CBS News report, Ron Berringer, who has worked on pipelines for decades says, that his financial future looks “gloomy” and that the cancelation “makes you want to give up.”

Tyler Noel, another pipeline laborer, described his work on the pipeline. “It’s not just a job, it’s like a lifestyle. The only people I talk to are family and pipeliners.”

Noel also says that he has had to refinance a vehicle and knows other who have had to refinance homes.  

Richard Trumka says he is unsure as to whether or not President Biden will cancel any additional pipelines, but says that “it will be prepared with job creation that will be greater than the number of jobs lost.”  

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