Labor union quits alliance with greens over Keystone pipeline

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) left the BlueGreen Alliance on Friday, citing a disagreement with the group’s members over the Keystone XL pipeline.

LIUNA, a vocal Keystone supporter, took aim at other unions for opposing the project.

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“We’re repulsed by some of our supposed brothers and sisters lining up with job killers like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to destroy the lives of working men and women,” LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan said in a statement.

The BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of environmental groups and labor unions, confirmed LIUNA’s exit Friday afternoon.

“The BlueGreen Alliance regrets the decision of the Laborers' International Union of North America to leave our strategic partnership of labor and environmental organizations,” the group’s executive director, David Foster, said in a statement.

The move underscores the intense political divide among unions over the pipeline, which would carry oil sands crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said earlier this month that the group’s membership has been unable to come to a unified position on the pipeline.

Many unions — including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Teamsters, the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters for the United States and Canada and others — support the pipeline. But some labor groups, including the Amalgamated Transit Union and the Transport Workers Union, oppose it.

LIUNA’s decision to leave the BlueGreen Alliance comes just two days after President Obama rejected Keystone, blaming the decision on a 60-day deadline imposed by Republicans. The GOP has vowed to work to reverse the decision legislatively.

A group of unions applauded Obama’s decision in a statement this week.

The Blue-Green alliance was formally launched in 2006, and grew out of a less-formal collaboration between the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers.

It now also includes the Service Employees International Union, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Communications Workers of America, the National Wildlife Federation, the United Auto Workers, the Union of Concerned Scientists and several other unions.
 
The group has not taken a position on the Keystone XL pipeline.

— Ben Geman contributed to this story.