In the first days of his administration, President Biden signed a flurry of executive orders that reversed many of President Trump’s economic, immigration, and energy policies.
One executive order revoked the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline in the name of commencing “work to confront the climate crisis.” The action instantly killed 11,000 jobs.
Though his actions were by no means unexpected in light of his progressive campaign , President Biden’s first mandates left union groups — some of his most instrumental supporters — with a foul taste in their mouths.
LIUNA —Laborers’ International Union of North America
In September, the Laborers’ International Union of North America “proudly” endorsed the Democratic presidential ticket, declaring that Biden and Harris clearly “stand out as the blue-collar candidates.”
“Vice President Biden never forgets where he came from; never forgets the value of hard work and those who do it; and never forgets that the greatest asset of our country are its working men and women,” wrote LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan. “During these challenging times, our nation desperately needs the steady hand and strong, inclusive leadership that Joe Biden will provide.”
However, LIUNA — which represents 500,000 construction workers — changed their tune once the Biden administration entered the Oval Office.
In response to the removal of the Keystone XL permit, LIUNA decried the executive order for killing “thousands of good-paying #UNION jobs!”
NABTU — North America’s Building Trades Unions
In the weeks before the 2020 election, North America’s Building Trades Unions formally endorsed Biden.
“With so much at stake right now, America needs responsible, forward-thinking White House leadership that reflects American shared values and delivers on its promises,” said the organization in a statement. “We need a President who keeps his word and will put America on a better path forward.”
“Joe Biden will deliver for America’s working class because he’s done it before… Furthermore, his plan to build vibrant, sustainable infrastructure and a secure energy future will support union building trades workers and their families,” it continued.
Like their LIUNA counterparts, NABTU — a coalition of 14 North American unions that represent 3 million professionals — backtracked following President Biden’s executive order, stating that they were “deeply disappointed” in the action.
“On a historic day that is filled with hope and optimism for so many Americans and people around the world, tens of thousands of workers are left to wonder what the future holds for them,” said their new statement. “In the midst of a pandemic that has claimed 400 thousand American lives and has wreaked havoc on the economic security and standard of living of tens of millions more, we must all stand in their shoes and acknowledge the uncertainty and anxiety this government action has caused.”
UA — United Association (Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, and Service Techs)
The United Association was one of the first unions to endorse the Democrats for their presidential bid. They were also one of the first to express disagreement over the Keystone XL decision.
In August, the UA endorsed President Biden, declaring that “Joe will make sure UA members have a seat at the table.”
“With his long history of standing shoulder to shoulder with working families and his commitment to an all-of-the-above energy approach that will mean more UA jobs, protecting the hard-earned retirements of our members, and appointing union-friendly judges, Joe Biden will be a fierce ally to our UA Brothers and Sisters in the White House,” remarked General President Mark McManus.
Two days before Biden’s inauguration, the UA — which boasts over 350,000 members — condemned the Biden administration’s plan to rescind the Keystone XL permit.
“In revoking this permit, the Biden Administration has chosen to listen to the voices of fringe activists instead of union members and the American consumer on Day 1,” McManus. “Sadly, the Biden Administration has now put thousands of union workers out of work. For the average American family, it means energy costs will go up and communities will no longer see the local investments that come with pipeline construction.”