Yes to Unions, No to Mariner East 2

One of the tactics used most frequently by Sunoco to garner community support for its Mariner East 2 pipeline is to repeat a one word mantra: “Jobs”. And, let’s face it, it’s an effective strategy. Who wants to be against jobs for their neighbors? This tactic also has the added benefit of dividing up communities, pitting union workers against activists concerned with public safety, water quality, and other issues, framing anyone who has concerns about the pipeline as “anti-industry”, “anti-union”, and “anti-jobs”.

This is a false dichotomy.

A little background: I come from a union family. My father’s father worked for a battery factory in Philadelphia. My father once told me a story of his father coming home one night, tucking him into bed, covered in blood. The company had hired thugs to break up the picket lines of the striking workers, of which my grandfather was a part. To his dying day, my grandfather was union through and through. My father was a teacher and I remember him being one of the leaders of a teachers’ strike when I was a child. As I grew up and learned about the great struggles of the labor movement in America, it kindled a feeling of admiration and respect, as well as an appreciation for all that struggle had contributed to my quality of life, as well as millions of others.

None of which is to suggest I have the slightest idea of what it is like to be a union pipeline fitter. From all accounts, it is a difficult an