Keystone XL pipeline would have cost at least 500 union rail jobs, 100 sheet metal jobs


Thousands of jobs in the trucking industry

Managing Editor

THE KEYSTONE XL pipeline project would have cost 600 rail and sheet metal jobs held by SMART (Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation) members, and thousands of jobs would have been lost in the trucking industry.

Even as TC Energy, the main contractor on the Keystone XL project, debunked misinformation that President Joe Biden revocation of the permit of the Keystone XL pipeline would eliminate a grossly exaggerated 11,000 union jobs, the true cost and impact of the project on existing jobs remained unclear.

TC Energy’s president announced that somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 of union jobs were affected. The remainder of the “11,000” positions widely quoted on social media were not filled, and the jobs never existed anywhere but on paper.

In contrast, some 600 actual rail and sheet metal jobs currently held by SMART (Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation) members would have been lost had the project proceeded. And thousands of jobs would have been lost in the trucking industry.

SMART-Transportation Division (SMART-TD) President Jeremy R. Ferguson says at least 500 SMART-TD members who haul the 27,000 rail cars carrying oil would have been displaced by the pipeline, and another 100 SMART sheet metal jobs.

And those losses do not include the thousands of union members in the trucking industry who would have seen their jobs displaced by the pipeline.

Allowing the Keystone pipeline project to go ahead, Ferguson says, would have taken thousands of carloads off the rails and resulted in further rail traffic declines. And that would have cost additional job losses for other rail crafts.

“While we are always supportive of all unionized labor, as Transportation Division President of SMART, I am tasked with having our primary focus on what is in the best interests of our membership,” said Ferguson. “When viewed in that capacity, I think it is clearly a positive decision for our members that the Keystone XL pipeline project has been shut down.”

Instead, with the Keystone XL permit cancelled, one railroad has begun recalling 40 to 50 furloughed employees to return to service immediately, and two others have posted job openings for at least 200 additional new conductors because of an anticipated increase in oil traffic.

The railroads also are planning additional hiring sessions to accommodate a forecast increase in oil traffic, which, according to the rail companies, could begin by the third quarter of this year.

When those numbers are combined, more long-term, permanent jobs will be saved or created by canceling the pipeline than would have been created by building it.

Biden’s revocation of the Keystone XL permit was bad news for building trades workers who would have been involved in the project, but it was a welcome reprieve for union sheet metal, rail and trucking workers.




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