Maryland’s Keystone Pipeline Lite Reignites Green vs. Blue Fight

By Bruce Vail

Fracking operation in ND. Photo  wikipedia creative commons

Fracking operation in ND. Photo wikipedia creative commons

BALTIMORE—The continuing drama of organized labor’s conflict with the environmental movement, especially notable in the controversy surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline project, is readying for another round as a coalition of green groups launches a campaign to stop the proposed construction of a Maryland natural gas export terminal linked to increased fracking in the region.

The fight in Maryland was put into motion last year, when Richmond, Va.-based energy giant Dominion Resources Inc. suggested converting its existing liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal at Cove Point in Lusby, Md., to a much larger export terminal.  According to Dominion, the rapid expansion of natural gas production inside the United States in recent years has all but eliminated the need to import LNG—by contrast, market demand to export the gas to places like India and Japan is expected to rise dramatically.

Dominion therefore proposed spending some $3.8 billion to modify the Cove Point terminal with construction of a new liquefaction plant, electricity-generating station and related facilities to handle the LNG exports. The U.S. Department of Energy gave its qualified approval for the project last month. Continue reading

Supreme Court Scrutiny of ‘Neutrality’ Pacts Could Be Another Blow to Unions

by Bruce Vail

Photo John Hartnup/Flickr/Creative Commons)

Photo John Hartnup/Flickr/Creative Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court announced this week that it will accept a case for review next year on the use of labor-management “neutrality” agreements in union organizing campaigns. An anti-union decision from the high court would make labor organizing more difficult and threaten labor organizations at a national level, labor experts say.

At issue are the so-called neutrality agreements between unions and employers in which the employer agrees beforehand not to actively oppose the union organizing process at a specific workplace. Typically, such agreements specify that both sides refrain from inflammatory or divisive tactics, and that the workers be allowed to choose or oppose union representation free from any pressure or intimidation from either side. Continue reading

Communications Workers of America Endorses Occupy Wall Street Movement

Washington, DC —The Communications Workers of America Executive Board has endorsed the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  Occupy Wall Street activists joined CWA members demonstrating for quality jobs at Verizon and Verizon Wireless, and CWA members will join the demonstrations to focus public attention on the impact of Wall Street’s greed on ordinary Americans.

Following is the CWA Executive Board’s statement:

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Thousands protest Wisconsin Governor’s proposals

More than 15,000 people, including public employees, union activists and community supporters, jammed into the Capitol Square in Madison, Wis., yesterday to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) plan to strip away state workers’ rights and decimate family-supporting middle-class jobs. Some 3,000 massed inside the Capitol building where a hearing on the bill was under way.

Many of those at yesterday’s rally camped overnight and are continuing their vigil today.

Public workers and their allies held other protests around Wisconsin. Some 1,000 people gathered outside Walker’s suburban Milwaukee home carrying signs that read “Stop the Attack on Workers’ Rights.”

AFSCME President Gerald McEntee told the cheering crowd in Madison:

For 75 years, we’ve fought to make our voices heard, and we’re not going to be silenced today. We’re not going to let this happen, We won’t let him break the back of the middle class of Wisconsinites. We are strong. We are united.

Walker vows that he will not negotiate any changes to his plan and if the state legislature doesn’t pass it, he will force massive layoffs, crippling state services and costing thousands of jobs.
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