Teamsters, GOP Join Forces on Environment


April 15, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) - Labor unions that disagree with their traditional environmental allies are banding together with a Republican group to boost their political and lobbying might.

The Teamsters union and the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy have formed the Labor Environment Alliance to balance environmental issues with job creation, and to support moderate politicians - mostly Republicans.

The two groups successfully lobbied the House to pass President Bush's energy bill that opens Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, and decided to join forces for a showdown with the Senate.

The Senate last month rejected drilling in the refuge, and Democratic senators - including several running for president - have vowed to block any energy bill that would open it.

Beyond ANWR, the group also plans to tackle emissions reduction and road construction.

"We were really looking for some kind of forum in which we can push this idea of creating good jobs in an environmentally sensitive way," said Mike Mathis, the Teamsters' government affairs director.

The group also plans to be active in next year's congressional races, but hasn't started raising money yet.

"There's an untapped money pool out there of activists who want to participate in the elections and have not found their vehicle yet," he said. "There's really nothing like this."

Other labor unions that aren't solidly in the traditional environmentalist camp are considering joining, such as the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, "who have jobs because people cut trees," Mathis said.


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