When Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first introduced the costly socialist power grab known as the Green New Deal — with a matching resolution in the Senate by Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey — it was widely criticized and mocked as absurd and unconstitutional by the right.
Even some on the left expressed misgivings about the proposal to fundamentally transform the entirety of the United States’ energy sector, economy and much of society in general, ostensibly to combat climate change but in reality to centralize more power and control with the federal government.
Now the Democrats who support the measure put forward by Ocasio-Cortez are facing an incredible predicament as a major force for fundraising and voter support on the left — organized labor unions, especially the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO — have come out firmly against the Green New Deal.
That will force some Democrats to choose between placating their typically moderate liberal union worker voters or appeasing the increasingly rabid and radical far-left base of the party that demands significant action on environmental concerns.
Republican Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso tweeted out a copy of a letter sent from leaders of the AFL-CIO labor union conglomerate to Markey and Ocasio-Cortez,. It expressed how the labor unions simply couldn’t support the Green New Deal proposal that would “cause immediate harm to millions of our members and their families,” a message with which the Republican senator agreed.
The letter, dated March 8, began by noting that union workers weren’t consulted on the ideas put forward in the proposal, even as those workers stood most at risk of facing severe economic disruptions and potential job loss because of the proposed policies. The unions agreed that some action was required to address the eventual impact of man-made climate change, and even expressed support for investment in new technologies to produce clean and carbon-free energy. However, they seemed to balk at some of the proposals — such aiming to do away with the current national dependence on fossil fuels like oil and natural gas within 10 years — as being non-specific and threatening toward the survival of their jobs and various sectors of the industrial economy.
The AFL-CIO letter stated that the Green New Deal is “not rooted in an engineering-based approach and makes promises that are not achievable or realistic.”
“We will not accept proposals that could cause immediate harm to millions of our members and their families,” the letter proclaimed. “We will not stand by and allow threats to our members’ jobs and their families’ standard of living go unanswered.”
The letter closed by reiterating that something needed to be done, but suggested that discussions be held about “responsible” solutions that would not utterly destroy the energy and industrial sectors of the economy and the livelihoods of those who work in those and related areas.
The letter was signed by Cecil Roberts, international president of the United Mine Workers of America, and Lonnie Stephenson, international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, as well as eight other major labor unions under the AFL-CIO banner.
The Washington Post reported that the criticisms in the letter seemed to echo comments made to the media just days prior by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka while he was on Capitol Hill to speak with lawmakers.
Trumka said, “Look, we need to address the environment. We need to do it quickly. But we need to do it in a way that doesn’t put these communities behind, and leave segments of the economy behind.
“So we’ll be working to make sure that we do two things: that by fixing one thing we don’t create a problem somewhere else,” he added.
Labor unions have long been relied upon by the Democratic Party for considerable support in elections, but that support has been wavering in recent years, given the increasingly leftward lurch of the party’s base and elected officials who stand fundamentally at odds with the more moderate and conservative-leaning rank-and-file workers who make up private-sector unions.
President Donald Trump siphoned off quite a few of those typically Democrat-voting union workers in the 2016 election.
If Democrats continue to press forward with their proposal to wreck the economy and energy/industrial sectors as we currently know them, that problematic trend for Democrats will likely continue and grow devastatingly larger in the 2020 election.
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