Labor unions support coal export project in Washington

By   /   September 20, 2013  /   No Comments

COAL SUPPORT: Labor unions support coal exports in the Pacific Northwest.

COAL SUPPORT: Labor unions support coal exports in the Pacific Northwest.

By Shelby Sebens | Northwest Watchdog

National and state labor unions are supporting a coal export project in Washington, calling it a chance for an economic boon to an area in financial distress.

State AFL-CIO leaders testified earlier this week in front of a committee of the King County Council that not only had the state chapter came out in support last year of the Gateway Pacific Terminal in Whatcom County, but also that the national AFL-CIO passed a resolution during its convention earlier this month in support of the project.

The national chapter’s resolution states the terminal “will provide meaningful long term employment for the labor movement that will support family wages, high benefit jobs” and would “demonstrate that family-wage job generation and protection of the environment are indeed compatible.”

The state AFL-CIO passed a similar resolution last year. The unions also planned to express their support to Washignton Gov. Jay Inslee, as well as congressional leaders.

It could be an uncomfortable position for Democrats, as part of their voting base, unions, supports the project, while environmentalists are adamantly opposed.

The King County Council committee put off its vote on a motion to oppose the terminal project after Herb Krohn, Washington state legislative director of the United Transportation Union Washington State Legislative Board, spoke in support of it, according to a press release from Create Northwest Jobs.

“The National AFL-CIO resolution joins the state AFL-CIO endorsement from last year, it is a strong statement in support of the Northwest coal export projects and echoes what labor in the Northwest has been saying all along — these projects will bring long-term employment for families across the state, millions in private investment for infrastructure, and money for cash strapped schools,” Krohn said in the press release.

King County is the most populous in Washington and is home to the state’s largest city, Seattle.

As local export projects in the Pacific Northwest fight through regulatory hurdles to get started, reports that upcoming EPA limits could be costly to power companies and take a toll on the economy.

Contact Shelby Sebens at [email protected]

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Shelby formerly served as staff reporter for