Labor & conservatives natural born allies
Labor Unions and Conservatives: natural born allies
By Tom Randall
Date: December 5, 2011
“We’ll remember in November…we’ll remember in November…we’ll remember in November,” the words rang out, time after time from the speakers, nearly a dozen of them, at one of the most unlikely rallies in the history of Washington, DC.
It was a balmy March morning, on the front steps of the headquarters of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The lead speaker was John LaHood, the Teamsters’ leader in Alaska, surrounded by a chorus of other Teamsters officials, rank and file members and three politicians, playing to a crowd of union members from a variety of locales and a smattering of journalists.
Nothing new, you say? Labor union rallies happen all the time? Not like this one.
The three political speakers — the only ones in attendance — were not the usual liberal Democratic labor movement backers. They were Republicans. Conservative Republicans. Very conservative Republicans: Frank Murkowski (R-AK), Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) and Rick Santorum (R-PA).
You can tell by the names of the players that this wasn’t a recent rally. It was March 6, 2002, and the words above were the beginning of an op-ed we did for the National Center for Public Policy Research back then.
The issue at the time was opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil and gas exploration and production. Unions wanted the jobs ANWR would produce, conservatives wanted the energy the country needed — and the additional jobs that would create. It was a common cause: unions, particularly the Teamsters, wanted jobs, conservatives wanted to create them. What could be simpler?
The legislation to open ANWR failed by just two votes in the Senate and the conservative-labor coalition dissolved in a needless dispute between the Bush administration and the Teamsters.
Today it is more important than ever that the coalition of labor and conservatives be firmly reestablished and committed to a determined effort to convince liberal Democrats that their constituents will indeed “Remember in November”.
They could start by coalescing behind Lee Terry’s (R-NE) North American Energy Access Act that would prohibit the President from blocking the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada and force the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue the required permits. Obama is currently blocking the pipeline to appease his far-left environmental base at the expense of union jobs. Unions want the jobs, conservatives want to provide them. It’s time to get together in support of Terry’s bill.
Beyond that, unions and conservatives should join together to fight the proposed EPA moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. Such a moratorium would cost tens of thousands of high-paying jobs and cause energy prices to soar. Some have said the Obama administration couldn’t possibly consider such a job-killing moratorium in an election year but White House action on Keystone says otherwise. The President seems more beholden to the far-left environmental lobby than any other part of his base and the environmental lobby hates jobs and job creators with an equal passion.
Now is the time for both unions and conservatives to band together and bring independents into the fold as well to convince the president and other liberal Democrats they will indeed “Remember in November.”
And, all the while, remember you really are natural born allies.
Contact: Tom Randall