President Joe Biden once proclaimed climate change was one of the four “existential” crises facing America, even as U.S. carbon emissions have been dropping over the past decade.
Thus, he pitched an aggressive progressive green-energy plan to rid America of fossil fuels – one that would benefit both radical environmentalists and blue-collar, greasy-fingernailed guys, drilling for oil and digging coal.
But Biden’s problem is that even as he championed himself as the hero of union workers, the base of his Big Labor support is public school teachers and government bureaucrats.
So, his recent suggestion that roughnecks and miners can simply learn to build solar panels as fossil fuels are left in the ground isn’t sitting well with people who make a living harvesting from beneath the earth’s crust.
A recent piece in The American Spectator, a conservative magazine, revealed how Biden’s AOC-style green energy push has alienated labor leaders.
“The Biden administration has emphasized that it believes the energy transition it is imposing can be blue-collar–friendly. In fact, the administration claims their plan will generate union jobs,” the Spectator’s Jordan McGillis wrote in late February.
“But labor isn’t buying it. And rightfully not. Green jobs pay less. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind turbine technicians and solar panel installers earn $30,000 to $40,000 less per year than power plant operators.”
According to McGillis, Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, argued, “It’s pie-in-the-sky bulls—t about these green jobs being good middle-class jobs, because they’re not.”
Noting that, besides being temporary jobs, wind and solar power facilities are not necessarily built where fossil fuels are harvested, McGillis also quoted Lee Anderson, director of government affairs for the Utility Workers Union of America: “We will not support policies that accelerate the closure of coal plants. The closures are already happening more rapidly than communities can deal with and are leaving economic devastation behind them.”
NPR on Monday reported on a meeting Biden held with 10 labor leaders last month. He tried to assure them he is in favor of that too, even telling them that he’s “for natural gas.”
But O’Sullivan noted to NPR, “The 10 largest wind farm projects — the 10 largest onshore projects — are all non-union, paying a construction laborer $16 to $17 an hour with no benefits.” Comparatively, LIUNA members are accustomed to construction work paying $30 an hour, plus benefits.
Last month the Tampa Free Press pointed out an NBC News poll that found the percentage of blue-collar voters who identify as Republicans grew by 12 percentage points over the past decade, while members of that group saying they were Democrats dropped eight points. And Republicans made strong gains with Hispanic and black workers in that group.
McGillis also noted that former President Donald Trump beat Biden among families with household incomes between $50,000 and $99,999 a year.
Labor leaders, NPR reported, came out of that White House meeting ready to play nice with Biden and crowing about unprecedented access to the nation’s chief executive.
We’ll see if that holds as Biden’s new coalition – the “laptop class,” as McGillis refers to them – increasingly pushes him for woke green-energy policies, which don’t include nuclear plants, while viewing the people who build anything but solar panels as seen as relics of a bygone era.
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