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An Anti-Worker Union

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While refinery workers of the United Steelworkers held demonstrations
in Washington Feb. 15 to protest the closure of two Philadelphia area
refineries and the likely closure of a third in June, their leader
continued his support of policies that might lead more refineries to
cut back operations or shut down -- costing even more of his own
members their jobs.

The Keystone XL pipeline, the bane of radical environmentalists
throughout the country, would bring oil from Canada to U.S. refineries
on the Gulf Coast creating jobs and stimulating local economies and
industries along the way. Unfortunately, President Obama figures he
needs radical environmentalists more than instead of middle class
workers for his re-election orts so he's denying permits for the
pipeline's construction.

Astoundingly, Leo Gerard applauded Obama's decision instead of criticizing
it. Gerard's opposition to the pipeline makes no sense given how many
USW members work in U.S. refineries that could manufacture gasoline,
diesel fuel, jet fuel, home heating oil, asphalt, and other essential
products from the oil Keystone XL would transport.

An important way of strengthening America's refining sector so it can
preserve existing jobs and create new ones would be for President
Obama to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. However,
instead of committing himself to a project that would create
good-paying American jobs and enhance our economic security, President
Obama instead ignored a project that would create 20,000 construction
and manufacturing jobs almost immediately as well as nearly 120,000
indirect jobs in the next few years.

The Keystone XL pipeline, the bane of radical environmentalists
throughout the country, would bring oil from Canada to U.S. refineries
on the Gulf Coast creating jobs and stimulating local economies and
industries along the way. Unfortunately, President Obama figures he
needs radical environmentalists more than middle class
workers for his re-election efforts so he's denying permits for the
pipeline's construction.

Faced with stiff foreign competition and costly federal regulations in
the U.S., the number of American refineries is shrinking -- 66 closed
in the past 20 years, leaving about 145 today. Three refineries in the
Philadelphia area are in the process of closing, wiping out 2,000 jobs
of refinery workers and about 20,000 indirect jobs. Even before these
newest job losses, refinery closures and the recession resulted in the
loss of 3,000 jobs in refineries just since 2008.

While Gerard issues press releases complaining about these refinery
closures, his opposition to Keystone XL is politics at its worst.

Contrast Gerard's back-stabbing of his members with Mark Ayers,
president of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the
AFL-CIO. Ayers' group is an alliance of 13 national and international
unions that collectively represent more than 2 million skilled craft
professionals in the United States and Canada.

"Environmental activists who are not saddled with the economic and
psychological scars that accompany long-term unemployment will applaud
the fact that they successfully induced the White House to block this
project," Ayers said. "Meanwhile, thousands of proud Americans
throughout the heartland will once again be faced with the terrifying
prospect of losing their homes and their livelihoods as they struggle
to find work."

Laborers' International Union of North America General President Terry
O'Sullivan pulled his union out of the BlueGreen Alliance -- a
coalition of unions and environmental groups -- after Obama's action
blocking Keystone XL.

"We're repulsed by some of our supposed brothers and sisters lining up
with job killers like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources
Defense Council to destroy the lives of working men and women," said
O'Sullivan, whose union represents more than 500,000 construction
industry workers in the U.S. and Canada. "We believe in protecting the
planet, but we must also care about the people on it."

Other unions supporting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline
include the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the
International Union of Operating Engineers, the Teamsters, and the
United Association of Plumbers & Pipe Fitters for the United States &
Canada. Leaders of these unions understand that supporting jobs for
their members is the reason the unions exist, not to join with the
enemy and fight against their own members' best interests.

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Ken Blackwell is a former Ohio Treasurer. He is a member of the Board
of Directors of the Club for Growth and the National Taxpayers Union.