Democratic presidential hopefuls’ opposition to building the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline could alienate blue-collar workers whom the party needs to attract to the polls next year, Laborers President Terry O’Sullivan says.

He issued that warning after the Democratic poll leader, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, joined the other Democratic hopefuls – led by Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vt. – in opposing Keystone. The Canada-Gulf Coast pipeline has split greens from some union allies.

Environmentalists and some unions, including the BlueGreen Alliance and National Nurses United, say Keystone, carrying Albertan tar sands’ “heavy oil” to Gulf Coast refineries, would produce carbon emissions that worsen global warming.

But construction unions, including those – the Laborers, the Teamsters, the Operating Engineers and others – that signed a project labor construction agreement with Keystone’s contractor, TransCanada, deny that. They cite the construction jobs it would create. Take away those jobs, O’Sullivan says, and the union members could well stay home from the polls.

"The hard-working men and women who build this country’s infrastructure are angry and disappointed that their jobs are once again being dismissed because of the need for candidates to curry favor from environmental elitists,” he said. Democratic Party agreement with environmentalist extremists “is what hard-working, middle-class workers have come to expect from their supposed friends, and it is because of this that there will be pause and consternation at the ballot box,” O’Sullivan predicted.    

Article by Mark Gruenberg, editor, Press Associates Union News Service.