Under escalating pressure from activists, Nike, the utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric Company, and others have publicly resigned from the US Chamber of Commerce over its opposition to climate protection policies. It's time for labor unions to follow suit by cutting all ties with groups opposing climate legislation like the Chamber-funded Energy Citizen's Alliance.
The AFL-CIO's newly elected president Richard Trumka recently told an audience at the "Jobs, Justice, and Climate" conference: "The AFL-CIO and all the unions in North America are strongly on board the global campaign to reduce carbon emissions and stabilize climate change. Working together with environmental organizations we hope to reverse practices that put our very survival at risk."
So why have some labor unions thrown their support behind the Energy Citizens Alliance, a nationwide front-group lobbying against climate mitigation legislation and funded by the likes of the Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute?
According to Energy Citizen's website, the group's objective is to force "Congress to reject climate change policies that could raise energy costs and eliminate American jobs." They opposed the Waxman-Markey climate bill and are now furiously lobbying against the Senate version, claiming it will have "negative effects for families, small businesses, farmers and truckers--but the fact remains that all Americans that drive or fly will feel the impact."
Besides the Chamber and API, the alliance's membership includes Laborers' Local 341, Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Alaska, and the Pipefitters' United Association Local 375. The rest of the membership reads like a "who's who" of the most anti-union and anti-environmental lobbies in the country, including: the National Association of Manufactures, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, and the American Conservative Union.
Even worse, at least one AFL-CIO state president has become a spokesman for the alliance. At a recent Energy Citizens rally in Alaska, organized to demand that "Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski to reject costly climate change policies", Vince Beltrami, president of the Alaska AFL-CIO, warned the crowd that one-third of Alaska's workers owe their jobs to the oil industry, and that climate legislation "will cost jobs in the long term." Energy Citizens is sponsoring 20 similar rallies around the country to aid efforts to defeat any and all climate legislation.