Why the AFL-CIO Is Backing Keystone XL

A blog about business and economics.
Feb. 6 2014 4:23 PM

AFL-CIO Backs Keystone XL

161625776-julian-bond-michael-brune-bill-mckibbin-and-lennox
Labor says not so much.

Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

This has some people surprised on the grounds that the project is set to create very few permanent jobs. The issue here, however, is all about the building trades unions. The building trades have been backing Keystone for a long time because from the viewpoint of a construction worker all jobs are temporary jobs. Actually building the pipeline will involve thousands of construction workers.

Advertisement

The larger union federation had been staying studiously "neutral" out of concern for larger issues of coalition politics, alliance with the environmental movement, etc. But there's no big countervailing forces inside the labor federation against the building trades' interest in the pipeline. The State Department's recent report that gave a favorable verdict to the pipeline changes the calculation in terms of the bigger coalition. If the State Department is giving it a thumbs up, then for all the unions that don't care it's not clear what's gained by neutrality. And for the building trades the upside of building the pipeline remains what it ever was—construction jobs.

* Correction: An earlier version of this article mistook a new article based around some remarks that AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka made in January for an article about new remarks from Trumka.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

You Might Not Be Crazy if You Think You Can Hear the Earth Humming

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 6:39 PM Spoiler Special: Transparent
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?