Sure, discussion is good…

…but it doesn’t change one vital thing:

Unions may be united in working to re-elect President Barack Obama, but their leaders also are trying to repair bitter divisions over his rejection of an oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.

Trade unions representing workers who stand to benefit from thousands of new construction jobs from the Keystone XL pipeline are furious at other unions that joined environmentalists in opposing the project….

After the White House blocked the pipeline in January, Laborers union president Terry O’Sullivan said he was “repulsed by some of our supposed brothers and sisters lining up with job killers like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to destroy the lives of working men and women.”…

“I think discussion is always good,” said Larry Cohen, the Communications Workers’ president. “You have to treat disagreements with respect. You have to work hard for unity.”

What thing is that, you ask? Well, it’s that Larry Cohen and his ilk really didn’t have any business speaking for or against the Keystone XL pipeline, considering that they didn’t have anything to gain or lose from it. One wonders what he would say if the shoe were on the other foot. For example, assuming there was no such thing as a First Amendment, one wonders what Cohen would say if there was a law being debated that required all stories that discussed national politics to be vetted by a government agency and certain unions came out in support of that. I bet you he wouldn’t treat that with respect. And he’d be right not to. I would agree with Cohen about treating disagreements with respect, if the adoption of his position didn’t mean fewer jobs for his union brothers. You all know by now that I am not really a fan of unions, but they are actually right on some things. Terry O’Sullivan is absolutely right to feel he’s been stabbed in the back and to be angry about this. And if I were him, I’d be raising holy hell at the union’s annual meeting.

I did find it amusing, though, that United Steelworkers president Leo Gerard — whose union supported the decision to delay the pipeline — was making noises about the “99 percent” and the “right wing.” Hey, Gerard, you git, your hated right wing was actually standing up for the 99 percent in this case! I know the case could perhaps be made that the interests supporting the pipeline were looking out for the folks at the top as well, but lest we forget, there are a lot more jobs at stake vis-a-vis the Keystone XL pipeline than just cushy office jobs.

Or perhaps this is really all about the power to people like Leo Gerard. It wouldn’t be the first time union advocates have put power over jobs.


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