Mark McManus, president of the Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, & Service Techs and Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning to discuss President Trump’s infrastructure plans and recent executive actions to advance the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.
Trump’s support for the pipeline projects came a day after McManus and O’Sullivan joined other union leaders at the White House for a meeting with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and other top aids for a conversation on the nation’s infrastructure needs.
Speaking about Dakota Access, O’Sullivan told co-host Joe Scarborough that the project created thousands of “good middle class jobs,” including 4,500 building trades men and women.
In a separate appearance, McManus and O’Sullivan told Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” that they were “more than encouraged” by their meeting with Trump and his subsequent executive actions to advance the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.
“This was a big day,” said O’Sullivan. “Less than 24 hours ago we were in the Roosevelt Room and the Oval Office — Mark, myself, and some other labor leaders — talking about these very issues and in less than 24 hours there’s five executive orders that are going to make a difference in our economy, our country, and in the lives of men and women we represent.”
Cory Bryson, 32, has known about the Dakota Access Pipeline since 2013. He attended public hearings in 2014, when he spoke with landowners, residents, legal staff and representatives of Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company building the pipeline. He recalls there would be a minimum of 50 people at each meeting — none of whom represented the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
He said they didn’t show up to the hearings in Mandan, Killdeer, Williston and Bismarck or the open house.
Bryson has worked on projects of this size before. He’s been through the process. To Bryson, this was just another ordinary project. Three years later, Bryson told a different story.
LiUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan sent a letter Thursday pushing back against five senators who earlier in the day urged President Obama to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“On behalf of the 500,000 members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), I write to express my anger and disappointment with your recent opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline,” O’Sullivan wrote in the two-page letter sent to Sens. Bernie Sanders, Dianne Feinstein, Ben Cardin, Ed Markey, and Patrick Leahy.
“You are willfully sacrificing the livelihoods of more than 1,000 LIUNA members and more than 4,000 Building Trades members working on the project on the basis of misinformation and outright lies.”
O’Sullivan’s stern rebuke echoes a statement released by the MAIN Coalition in response to the latest attempt to politicize an essential energy infrastructure investment. “There is no legitimate reason, whatsoever, for the federal government to request another environmental study for the Dakota Access Pipeline – to do so is nothing more than a ploy to kill the project by unnecessary and undetermined delay,” said MAIN Coalition spokesperson Craig Stevens in a statement.
“The nation is watching this administrative decision: Will the administration respect the rule of law, the regulatory process, and the engineers who did their jobs or will the administration make a decision based on a political preference? If the decision ignores the regulatory process it will have a chilling effect on future private infrastructure development and threaten American jobs.”
A federal appeals court yesterday removed a temporary injunction that halted work on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Construction can now resume in an area between Highway 6 and 1806. Supporters say it’s a step in the right direction while opponents say they’re not backing down from the fight. Ben Smith has the story. Cory Bryson says nearly 400 members of his labor union are working on the Dakota Access Pipeline. He says they’re excited, and not too surprised at the decision. “It kinda reaffirms with what we’ve known all along that this is a one hundred percent legal project that Dakota Access is pursuing and building, and we’re just excited to be a part of it,” says Bryson, Laborers Local 563
For more than two years, the five skilled craft unions have shown their support for the Dakota Access Pipeline as it was reviewed, exhaustively vetted, and then approved by four states and federal regulators. And recently, the AFL-CIO lent their support for the project as well.
The members of the labor organizations that support and will build the Dakota Access Pipeline deserve to have their voices heard. The admiration should allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to finish construction.
Five of the nation’s top skilled craft unions are urging the Obama administration to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline project to proceed without further delay.
In a letter to President Obama, the general presidents of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), United Association (UA), and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) condemned the administration’s eleventh hour decision to halt work on a portion of the $3.8 billion infrastructure project.
“The intervention by the Departments of Justice, Interior, and the U.S. Army to indefinitely halt a project that is more than halfway constructed and has received state and federal approval raises serious concerns about the future of infrastructure development in America, and the livelihoods of our members,” the letter reads.
“We urge you to adhere to the well-established regulatory process for permitting private infrastructure projects and approve the easement for the remaining section of the Dakota Access project without delay.”
According to union leaders, the project delays imposed by the White House have already resulted in lost jobs and threaten many more. “The project is being built with an all-union workforce and workers are earning family-sustaining wages, with family health care and retirement contributions. However, the project delays are already putting members out of work and causing hardships for thousands of families.”
Member of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) are weighing into the Dakota Access Pipeline debate with a new radio campaign featuring the men and women building it. The Build North Dakota initiative aims to highlight the countless opportunities this project is providing to thousands of skilled Laborers and the quality of work they’re delivering.
“We’ve heard a lot of people offer their opinion on the Dakota Access Pipeline, but what’s missing from the conversation are the perspectives of the people who are living it every day: the landowners whose land the pipeline crosses, and the workers who are building it,” according to LIUNA Local 563 Business Agent and career pipeliner Cory Bryson.
Dakota Access has long committed to utilizing union labor and currently employs more than 8,000 skilled members from LiUNA and an array of different trades, including the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and United Association.
“Hundreds of our members are giving it their all to make sure this pipeline is built safe, and built the right way,” said Bryson. “We want people in North Dakota and beyond to understand what we do, and how seriously we take our work.”
In an announcement today, the General Presidents of four unions: Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA), the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), and the United Association (UA) announced that they have sent a letter to North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple. The letter requests that the governor use all the resources at his disposal to protect the hard-earned jobs of thousands of American men and women.
The release highlights the opportunity both supporters and opponents of the pipeline had to voice their opinions before the North Dakota Public Service Commission three times last year and calls attention to the actions of protestors that have endangered the safety of both construction workers and law enforcement.
According to the release, “Our men and women who earn a living on important and vital construction infrastructure projects such as Dakota Access have been asked to leave the job site while the local law enforcement contains the illegal protesters… While they may have a right to protest, we also have a right to do our jobs in a safe environment.”
Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) took to the opinion pages this past weekend to emphasize the importance of the Dakota Access Pipeline project. The narrative—published in the Illinois State Journal-Register—notes that the pipeline has been approved by all four states, but is still awaiting final signoff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
This critical energy infrastructure project has already been approved on its merits by four state regulatory boards. Each of the state agencies has indicated that the benefits of the project not only outweigh the costs, but will improve the quality of energy access to the residents of those states. These regulatory bodies reviewed hundreds of pages of testimony and comments from affected communities, including environmental and cultural experts.
The permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is one of the last outstanding approvals. Yet rather than accept the outcome, some opponents have requested the intercession of the federal government into the review process by pressuring the Corps. They have requested this intervention despite the state reviews and the fact the Corps district office has already determined the project would not cause significant environmental harm.
Furthermore, O’Sullivan goes on to stress the exemplary qualifications of the LiUNA members working on the project, say that they are, “among the most skilled and highly trained construction crafts workers in the world.” O’Sullivan said that projects like Dakota Access represent more than just an investment in our infrastructure, but also a way of life for thousands of workers who rely on them as a source of income.
Projects like the Dakota Access are more than just pipelines — they are lifelines that will help workers practice their craft through the thousands of good, family-supporting jobs the project will create. The project is forecast to have a $5 billion positive economic impact, including nearly $200 million in payments to landowners and $1.9 billion in wages, including $303 million in wages in Illinois.
O’Sullivan concludes by reiterating his call for the Army Crops review process to remain independent and outside the sphere of influence of those second guessing the project. “It is destructive to pressure the Corps to cater to the whims of environmental elites,” he wrote. “That is not what Illinois or our country needs.”
Click here to read Terry O’Sullivan’s full opinion piece in the Illinois State Journal-Register.
Yesterday, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) further delayed issuing a construction permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline after convening for several hours to discuss the matter.
“The board’s lawyers told regulators Monday that Dakota Access, a unit of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, is in substantial compliance with most of the conditions,” noted the Des Moines Register’s Bill Petroski in an article following yesterday’s meeting.
Eric Schmidt, a member of LiUNA’s Des Moines-based Local 177 described a growing sense of frustration within the labor community that the project continues to be held up by state regulators despite being approved last month. “This is something [laborers] have been looking forward to for over a year now. We thought after the decision came last month that the construction would be getting underway right now,” said Schmidt.
MAIN Coalition Chairman Ed Wiederstein has also weighed into the discussion, highlighting the consequences of a delayed construction timeline in a letter to the IUB last week. Wiederstein echoed concerns expressed by Schmidt, and also expressed concerns that further delays could hurt the state’s farming community.
Besides denying Iowans employment, any delay unnecessarily imposed by the Board will have the added consequence of impacting the state’s farmers. It is the stated intention of Dakota Access to construct the pipeline within one growing season and to commence land conservation efforts upon its conclusion. To delay the project will mean that construction will span multiple growing seasons, inconveniencing the majority of landowners who have signed voluntary easements and are eager to start the project.
The IUB unanimously approved the Dakota Access Pipeline in early March, agreeing that the project serves the public interest and benefit. It is important to all Iowans that construction of the pipeline take place in a manner that is least disruptive, but doing so requires action now–not further delays.