Doing the right thing
The traditionally conservative Operating Engineers pull out of fracking convention to take a stand against hate
Imagine seeing your bosses and your bosses’ boss at a convention choking a cardboard cutout of the Presidential candidate that your union has endorsed. Even worse, the convention has allowed her opponent, a man who is advocating for taking away your right to collectively bargain, to speak at the convention. This was the case for union members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 this week at the Marcellus Shale Convention.
The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 66 is one of the biggest advocates for fracking in the Marcellus Shale region. The union represents many of the men and women who work on the roads, pipelines and well-pad construction that has popped up since the natural gas boom in Pennsylvania. Thanks to these new jobs, the union has reported employment rates of nearly 100% in recent years. According to the Post-Gazette, only 6 years ago unemployment in the union was as high as 10%.
Since the boom, Local 66 has been a staple at industry events. The union was even listed as a sponsor of the conference until the speakers were announced. Thanks to a close relationship between Harold Hamm, chairman and CEO of Continental Resource and Donald Trump, the Presidential candidate was chosen to speak at the convention. This decision caused Local 66 to pull their support. The traditionally conservative union said “There’s just no way that I was going to associate Local 66 with any function that gives this guy an avenue to speak.” Jim Kunz, Business Manager for the union also called the Republican presidential nominee a “snake oil salesman.”
While the attendees were inside, choking a cutout of Hillary Clinton and listening to Donald Trump, protestors were outside chanting slogans of “Love Trumps Hate.” Trump has made many outlandish and hateful statements about Muslims, Latino’s and has advocated for a National Right to Work Law. The event which was deemed “non-partisan” clearly took a pro-Trump turn among the executives and managers at the convention.
While the attendees of the convention were attacking Clinton, Local 66 has been working to get out the vote for Hillary in Pennsylvania. Their international union endorsed Clinton in October, saying “Hillary’s vision for long-term, substantial infrastructure investments, support for expanding skilled training, rigorous workplace protections, and retirement security make her the best choice for middle-class working families.”
At the same time Trump has come under fire for shady business dealings, especially with failing to pay skilled tradesmen who built his properties. As USA Today reported, Trump built his real estate millions by taking advantage of workers, some union, and defaulting on payments.
Not only has Donald Trump run a campaign filled with hate, he is diametrically opposed to the values that good unionist believes in. He supports Right to Work (for less), has a history of ripping off workers, and only builds union when he is forced to. It is no wonder that Local 66 could not in good conscious support an event in which such an anti-worker candidate spoke. Good job IUOE 66 in standing up to the hate and rhetoric of Trump.