Keystone XL's New Labor Agreement and the Politics of Pipelines
Posted August 7, 2020
News item from Bloomberg:
TC Energy Corp. has reached agreements with four labor unions to build the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline – a move that could amplify political pressure on Joe Biden, who has threatened to rip up permits for the project even as he courts blue-collar workers.
Details in the announcement from TC Energy, Keystone XL’s builder:
- The project labor agreement (PLA) is with the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA).
- Keystone XL will have 10,000 high-paying construction jobs, primarily filled by union workers.
- 2,000 unionized workers will start building some of the project’s 28 planned U.S. pump stations this fall, according to Bloomberg.
Overall, Keystone XL is projected to support 42,000 U.S. jobs and generate $2 billion in earnings for U.S. workers during pipeline construction, according to the U.S. State Department, which also found that the project won’t significantly impact climate or the environment.
TC Energy’s announcement stressed that Keystone XL would be built by the highest-skilled and trained workforce and that construction of the pipeline would put hundreds of millions of dollars in middle-class wages into the U.S. economy. Richard Prior, Keystone XL president:
“We are proud to partner with these union trades and craft workers to ensure this pipeline will be built by qualified professionals with specialized skills to the highest safety and quality standards.”
“This project will bring good paying jobs to our members, all while keeping energy costs low and delivering a boost to local communities and their economies. We’re ready to get to work.”
– Mark McManus, UA general president
“When our members build and maintain pipelines, they are built right, built safe, and built to last. North America is in desperate need of more modern, safe and efficient energy infrastructure. Operating Engineers will continue to provide the most advanced training in the industry to ensure that these projects are built to the highest safety and environmental standards by the most skilled workforce possible.”
– James T. Callahan, International Union of Operating Engineers general president
“The Keystone XL pipeline project will put thousands of Americans, including Teamsters, to work in good union jobs that will support working families. We believe in supporting projects which prioritize the creation of good jobs through much-needed infrastructure development.”
– Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president
Of course, there’s a significant question mark about this news: the former vice president’s pledge to effectively kill the $8 billion project if he’s elected president. In May, campaign Policy Director Stef Feldman said once in the White House, Biden would stop the pipeline as president, a position the campaign confirmed this week for Bloomberg.
Opposing the Keystone XL pipeline obviously is at odds with the interests of working men and women – as well as the nation’s interests. It’s bad policy to block modern, carefully reviewed pipelines, which safely connect consumers with the energy they use every day – fuels and an array of products made from or with the help of natural gas and oil.
Forward-looking leadership recognizes that natural gas and oil will be America’s leading energy sources for decades to come, as well as the critical role of high-tech infrastructure in delivering natural gas and oil to refiners and manufacturers and, ultimately, to consumers.
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and six grandchildren.