Union Slams Obama for Catering to Environmentalists

LIUNA: Oil tax will ‘cost drivers more without actually doing anything to improve the roads’

• February 11, 2016 5:00 am


One of the nation’s most influential labor unions criticized President Barack Obama for proposing an oil tax hike that will hurt drivers and fail to create jobs.

Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, accused the administration of neglecting the construction industry by failing to hike gas taxes to fund transportation projects, while at the same time hiking oil taxes to please environmentalists. He said in a press release that the transportation portion of the budget was "too little, too late, and wrongly focused" because it favored mass transit projects over roads.

"It appears that environmental extremists have convinced the president to tax our energy sector through a $10 oil tax in order to pay for clean transportation investment," O’Sullivan said. "It is a poor policy proposal that will cost drivers more without actually doing anything to improve the roads they drive on. The proposal also sidesteps the urgent need to provide sustainable investment for all transportation infrastructure rather than stealing from roads and bridges to invest in transit."

The White House did not respond to request for comment.

Rep. Phil Roe (R., Tenn.), a chairman of the House Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions subcommittee, told the Washington Free Beacon that the negative reaction from some of Obama’s closest allies illustrates the divisiveness of his budget.

"It’s no secret that the Obama administration is out of touch with the plight of blue collar workers, and now you’re seeing groups that used to support the president come out against his reckless policy proposals," Roe said. "President Obama’s budget proposal further underscores the president’s priorities don’t align with those of the American people, and I hope he’ll finally choose to focus on creating jobs and growing the economy his final year in office."

This is not the first time that Sullivan has criticized the White House for pushing policies that hurt the 560,000 construction workers he represents.

He called for the repeal of Obamacare in 2013 if it did not withdraw a 40 percent tax rate on so-called "Cadillac" health plans like the ones that unions regularly negotiate from companies. He reiterated his opposition to the tax in July, calling it a "kick in the face to every hardworking, blue collar, and middle class family in the country."

He also accused Obama of throwing workers under the bus by delaying and then rejecting the Keystone Pipeline, which would have created tens of thousands of construction jobs. The decision to nix the pipeline "demonstrated that he cares more about kowtowing to green-collar elitists than he does about creating desperately needed, family-supporting, blue-collar jobs," according to an October release from O’Sullivan.

Union watchdogs said that O’Sullivan’s statements reflect a disconnect between the reliably Democratic labor movement and the president that received tens of millions of dollars in support during the 2008 and 2012 election campaigns.

Richard Berman, executive director of the Center for Union Facts, told the Washington Free Beacon that the Obama White House was "creating an even wider divide between the federal government and the working class" through stricter regulations and environmental policy.

"In an ironic twist, Big Labor—which has long failed to serve union members' best interests—is calling attention to the Obama administration's abysmal record on employee right," Berman said. "Working Americans feel they are being left behind by a president who doesn't care about them. And we're seeing these frustrations flare up in the early-state primaries."

Published under: Barack Obama, Unions