Some Labor vs Some Environmentalists
Jonathan Martin. New York Times. May 17, 2016. Page 1.
The rift developed after some in the labor movement, whose cash flow has dwindled and whose political clout has been increasingly imperiled, announced a partnership last week with a wealthy environmentalist, Tom Steyer, to help bankroll a new fund dedicated to electing Democrats.
That joint initiative enraged members of the nation’s biggest construction unions, already on edge about the rising influence of climate-change activists. The building-trades unions view Mr. Steyer’s environmental agenda as a threat to the jobs that can be created through infrastructure projects like new gas pipelines.
The dispute, laid bare in a pair of blistering letters sent on Monday to Richard L. Trumka, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., underscored the tensions between the two pillars of the Democratic coalition.
For decades, organized labor was among the most powerful forces on the left, financing Democratic candidates and reliably delivering working-class votes, and political foot soldiers, for the party in crucial states and districts.
But with blue-collar white voters shifting to the Republican Party and Democrats growing more reliant on higher-income voters and liberal donors like Mr. Steyer, environmental activists are increasingly muscling out unions.
Document: Letter From Presidents of 7 Building-Trade Unions to Richard Trumka