Big Labor versus the Obama Administration

In the 2012 federal election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, 91 percent of labor union campaign funds went to Democrats. Based on that figure, one would expect unions are in lockstep with President Obama’s policies and the progressive agenda. However, lately unions have publicly criticized the Obama administration for implementing and enforcing numerous job-killing policies.

The latest dissent comes from the Boilermakers Local 154. The union is protesting the Environmental Protection Agency’s War on Coal, which has already caused Pennsylvania coal plants to shut down. This has drawn the Boilermakers’ ire because hundreds of members are now out of the job. In addition, the coal industry expects 22 more coal-fired power plants will be forced to close due to EPA rules.

As the Daily Caller reported, “FirstEnergy Corp. announced it was closing down two Pennsylvania coal plants because it would have cost the company $275 million to upgrade the facilities to meet new EPA mercury standards.”

The Boilermakers’ business manager Raymond Ventrone has had enough. He wrote in the Pittsburgh Gazette:

“I represent more than 2,000 boilermakers in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. My members learned the hard way that the EPA’s goal isn’t clean air; it’s eliminating coal and our way of life…

The skeptics in this debate are those who ignore that coal is used cleanly. The deniers are those who won’t acknowledge the true “social cost” of the EPA’s anti-coal agenda: the 400 southwestern Pennsylvania families who are losing their paychecks. We can have clean air and keep coal as a vital part of our economy, but we can’t do it if the EPA and its allies are allowed to continue waging a devastating war against our jobs.”

But the Boilermakers is far from the only union objecting to the Obama administration’s suffocating regulatory regime. Unions changing their tunes concerning President Obama’s agenda include:

  • The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which my colleague Marc Scribner has noted are in opposition to the Department of Justice’s interference with the US Airways and American Airlines merger (read here). In a statement, the AFA-CWA has called the DOJ lawsuit a “war on workers.”
  • Numerous unions (United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, UNITE-HERE, and National Treasury Employee Union) have criticized Obamacare. The common complaint is Obamacare will undermine Taft-Hartley benefit plans. For more on unions flip-flopping on Obamacare, see here and here.
  • Last, the Laborer’s International Union of North America has chastised the Obama administration, repeatedly, for not allowing the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. In a statement, LIUNA President Terry O’Sullivan voiced his displeasure with the State Department when it delayed construction of the pipeline, saying, “Environmental groups from the Natural Resources Defense Council to the Sierra Club may be dancing in the streets, having delayed and possibly stopped yet another project that would put men and women back to work. While they celebrate, pipeline workers will continue to lose their homes and livelihoods.”