Keeping blue collar union members employed while also eliminating industries that employ those union members with heavy-handed new environmental regulations has to be a tough line to walk for anyone on the pro-labor, anti-coal Left. But emails Media Trackers discovered from the secretive national leftwing group Gamechanger Salon show the extreme tension between liberal activists and labor bosses over new Obama administration EPA regulations.
Gamechanger Salon, a group discovered by Media Trackers as a coordination hub for national liberal activists, union bosses and members of the media, has become a treasure trove of insight into the Left. To date, Media Trackers has released emails from within the group revealing the Left’s desire to push southern states out of the union, members of the national media coordinating talking points with liberal activists and extensive group documents showing the extent to which members coordinate their activity.
The June 2014 email exchange begins with press releases from the AFL-CIO, United Mine Workers of America and the BlueGreen Alliance showing reaction to newly announced EPA power plant emission rules. But while the person sharing the press releases – AFL-CIO Policy Director and Special Counsel Damon Silvers – intended to shed light on the multiple positions being taken within the labor movement, the conversation quickly turned into a spectacular showing of just how confused the Left is when it realizes their carbon cutting proposals will cost tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of union jobs.
“Ultimately we need to bridge the divides here and bring devastated communities along – economically and politically – and both parts of this conversation are showing us what will be needed to do that: a big investment and a deep long-term commitment to bridge-building,” wrote Gamechanger Salon founder Billy Wimsatt.
The liberal conundrum being addressed by the “Gamechangers” is how to transition away from coal based power to so-called “green power” while ensuring dues paying union members keep their jobs.
In true liberal fashion, the answer appears to be more government spending. “I am one of the first people on this list to propose we spend literally billions to have an equitable transition for communities hurt by cuts in coal for example. But we have to make these transitions,” said Tom Matzzie, the founder and CEO of Ethical Electric.
Melissa Byrne, a D.C. union organizer, suggests an alternative form of Social Security be set up to transition coal workers into a “clean energy economy.” Some members called for leftwing billionaires to put their money where their mouth is and fund the transition to a so-called green economy. “With a billion dollars from Bloomberg, Steyer, Google, Gates and others, combined with a centrally driven strategy across federal agencies…we could make a dent in the transition pains,” [sic] added Sean Garren, legislative director of Fair Share.
While the random suggestions on how to transition the union jobs from one industry to another are interesting, the real insight into how the Left thinks comes when Silvers weighs in on what is really important to labor: ensuring union membership rates are protected and that they get their piece from the so-called 1%. Silvers writes:
Gamechangers who agree with the concern about job quality in the context of the transformation to a low carbon economy should make sure to ask green entrepeneurs two questions—do you have a card check/neutrality policy covering your employees, and are you investing directly in communities that are suffering disinvestment and job loss as a result of the falling use of coal. While action by individual entrepeneurs cannot substitute for government policy, or for the potential impact an individual like Mike Bloomberg, with a net worth of $32 billion could have, its important to have some level of accountability in this conversation if expressions of concern about just transition are going to be more than just words. [sic]
Not to be one-upped by the AFL-CIO union boss, self-proclaimed communications expert, researcher, political pundit and Huffington Post contributor Anat Shenker-Osorio asks members why the coal workers losing their jobs are more important than others impacted by government policies. She asks:
Reading this thread about what we need to do for the folks in Appalachia, I can’t help but call to mind Coates’s piece on reparations. What is that we ought to do for the African Americans, Native Americans, Chinese railroad builders, Japanese internment survivor relatives, etc we have harmed with our economic choices?
Political grassroots web show producer and Huffington Post contributor Lauren Windsor provides the obvious answer to Shenker’s question, “The underlying principle is white male privilege.”