Union Pushing Pipeline Faces Discrimination Suit
February 15, 2021
One of Joe Biden’s first acts as President was to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which is widely supported by the energy industry, Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau, and labor interests with a stake in its construction. The 8000-member Pipeliners Union has energetically lobbied for Keystone XL’s completion. Now its Local 798 in Tulsa is facing a class-action lawsuit alleging that Black members were denied promotions that were given instead to less-qualified white coworkers, a history that clashes with Biden’s environmental justice agenda. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Tulsa, says the plaintiff, a black man, worked as a welder helper for the union and was subjected to racial slurs and jokes from white coworkers. When he tried to advance to the journeyman level, he was denied while white workers he calls less-qualified were allowed. A second black union member says a white colleague threw a rock and partially blinded him. Local 798 was formerly under strict oversight of the EEOC, and was forced to actively recruit and admit women and African-Americans. It’s not clear how many black members of the union might be represented in the case, but attorneys estimate it is more than 500.
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