North America’s Building Trades Unions Weigh in on the Importance of Keystone XL Jobs

July 29, 2013 10:35 am | Categories:

Contact: Tom Owens, Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO

WASHINGTON, DC—Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions, issued the following statement today regarding President Barack Obama’s recent interview with the New York Times:

America’s Building Trades Unions were disappointed to see that the President chose to minimize the importance of jobs for construction workers and to use employment figures promulgated by special interests and activist billionaires rather than his own Department of State’s finding that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would support approximately ’42,100 average annual jobs across the United States over a 1-to 2-year construction period.

Moreover, the lack of understanding of the construction industry and its workforce which has struggled with the lingering effects of a brutal recession seems indicative of a political system that is incapable of crafting solutions that will have a meaningful impact on peoples’ lives rather than perpetuate a never ending campaign cycle. The southern portion of the Keystone XL Pipeline which did not require a Presidential permit yet was championed by the President and is currently under construction, has already produced millions of work hours and provided a positive economic benefit for the local communities in which it is being constructed.

Wall Street financiers, hedge fund managers and politicians have become whole and have had continuous employment throughout this difficult time while the middle class, blue collar and low wage workers continue to struggle. The apparent disconnect is stunning and sad. Today, unemployment in the construction industry is, as it has been for the last several years, disproportionately high, and we in the Building Trades understand that every job is important to the craft professionals we represent. The lives of workers who would find employment on this privately financed project and their families who stand to benefit from the good wages as well as health and retirement benefits, are much more than a ‘blip relative to the need’. In fact, the Administration thought 3,000 jobs were more than a ‘blip’ when they decided to loan Solyndra $535 million of tax payer money. In light of these facts and coupled with a current tour on jobs and the economy, the comments provided to the New York Times are confusing and disheartening.

While some may stand to benefit from further delay, we continue to encourage the President to approve construction of the KXL pipeline so that workers and their families can share in the economic recovery he is touting. The President should look to his own State Department’s findings that there will be meaningful job creation and minimal GHG impact by approving the construction of this project. It is time to approve the KXL pipeline.”