by Becket Adams · March 12, 2019
It’s not just conservatives who oppose the Green New Deal championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. Big labor is also lining up against the proposal, rightly skeptical that it will lead to the creation of the mythical and oft-discussed “green jobs” it promises.
The largest federation of labor unions in the U.S. argues that Ocasio-Cortez’s and Markey’s pet project would cause “immediate harm” to “millions” of laborers.
“We welcome the call for labor rights and dialogue with labor, but the Green New Deal resolution is far too short on specific solutions the speak to the jobs our members and the critical sectors of the economy,” the AFL-CIO Energy Committee told the congresswoman and the senator in a letter dated March 8.
“We will not accept proposals that could cause immediate harm to millions of our members and their families. We will not stand by and allow threats to our members’ jobs and their families’ standard of living go unanswered,” it adds.
The Green New Deal is a wish list of preposterously ambitious initiatives, including one that calls for the upgrading or replacement of all existing buildings in the U.S. “to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification.” Curiously enough, the nonbinding resolution doesn’t go into much detail explaining how any of this multitrillion-dollar plan to overhaul the entire American economy would be paid for, except for the part where it makes a passing reference to raising low-interest credit from “public banks.”
The AFL-CIO letter, which is co-signed by United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Lonnie Stephenson, represents eight national unions in total, including the United Steelworkers, the Ironworkers, United Steelworkers, and North America’s Building Trades Unions.
The union’s opposition to the Green New Deal comes after the United Mine Workers already voiced doubts over the bill’s stated goal of achieving “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” with only the extremely vague promise of a “just transition” for the laborers who might put out of work in the process.
“We’ve heard words like ‘just transition’ before, but what does that really mean? Our members are worried about putting food on the table,” UMWA spokesman Phil Smith said in February.
The energy committee’s March 8 letter also comes after AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka himself seemingly dismissed the Ocasio-Cortez/Markey plan during an interview last week in Washington, D.C., when he told reporters that no one consulted his organization prior to releasing the Green New Deal.
“Look, we need to address the environment. We need to do it quickly,” he said. “But we need to do it in a way that doesn’t put these communities behind, and leave segments of the economy behind. So, we’ll be working to make sure that we do two things: That by fixing one thing we don’t create a problem somewhere else.”
As of this writing, Ocasio-Cortez has not addressed the AFL-CIO letter. Markey, for his part, has tried to put a silver lining on the fact that his bill is being met with a thumbs-down from a traditionally pro-Democratic group that represents some 12.5 million workers.
“We will continue to work and partner w [AFL-CIO],” the senator’s Twitter account said Tuesday, “who is right to say that ‘doing nothing is not an option’. But until Republicans say that climate change is real, caused by humans, and demands action now, the only people they are in agreement with are Big Oil and the Koch brothers.”
Washington Examiner · by Becket Adams · March 12, 2019