Editorial: Unions vs. radical greens

Blue-collar workers have flocked to Donald Trump’s “make America great again” theme. Pundits attribute the attraction, in large part, to Mr. Trump’s positions on trade and immigration.

For instance, Wall Street Journal columnist William Galston observed last November that “working-class voters are in full revolt against policies — trade treaties, immigration reform and crony capitalism, among others — that they see as inimical to their interests.”

No doubt, that’s true. But it would be a mistake to ignore another issue that might be driving many American workers away from the Democratic Party and into Trump’s camp: radical environmentalism.

The New York Times reported last week that the nation’s biggest construction unions are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the Democratic Party’s fealty to climate-change radicals and the far-left environmental agenda, viewing it as a “threat to the jobs that can be created through infrastructure projects like new gas pipelines.”

In particular, a half dozen trade unions vehemently object to the AFL-CIO’s recent decision to form a “get out the vote” alliance with Tom Steyer, a billionaire environmentalist who bankrolls progressive causes. The allure of Mr. Steyer’s cash has been a big, green reason why many Democrats have sacrificed job creation and growth at the altar of global warming.

The Times reported that Terry O’Sullivan, president of the 500,000-member laborers union, sent a scathing letter to the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka about the alliance. “We object to the political agenda of the AFL-CIO being sold to a job-killing hedge fund manager with a bag of cash,” he wrote.

How ironic that as Democrats pound the Republican Party for being a tool of “the 1 percent,” they are “growing more reliant on higher-income voters and liberal donors like Steyer,” the Times noted, as “environmental activists are increasingly muscling out unions.”

It’s certainly welcome news that a handful of unions have finally recognized that an over-weaning regulatory state — whether advanced in the name of fighting “climate change” or some other progressive objective — is inconsistent with economic opportunity and prosperity.

Nor are property rights, free markets and capitalism — which have fewer and fewer defenders in today’s Democrat Party — synonymous with environmental degradation. The wealth and innovation created by a robust private sector go hand in hand with environmental advancement and protection.

The GOP’s raucous primary fight revealed ugly party divisions, but it turns out Democrats have their own internecine squabbles that threaten to carry significant ramifications.

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