In the coming months, as oil companies attempt to build a second section of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta to Illinois, union officials and industry insiders say they’re preparing for a major shift in the pipeline’s timeline.
That could come as soon as mid-August, according to union leaders.
Keystone is a pipeline that the Obama administration has put forward as a pathway to moving oil from Canada’s oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, where it would be used to ship diluted bitumen from the oil sands that is used in oil production to refineries in the Midwest.
It also is the largest and most expensive project of its kind in U.T.O.’s history, costing about $7 billion.
Union leaders are expected to announce that at the beginning of the month that their membership has voted to endorse the union’s support for the project, which includes a pledge to raise the wage of workers at the two pipeline sites in South Dakota and Louisiana, as well as increase the minimum wage for pipeline workers.
Union members will also have the right to vote in their own elections in which candidates will face off against union members.
The union will also be in the lead on organizing the pipeline project, including organizing protests against it, according a union source familiar with the plans.
The union, which has more than 6,000 members, is the country’s largest union of construction workers.
The decision to put a ballot question on the ballot at the union meeting was a key component of the organizing effort, the source said.
“If the project passes and gets approved by the UTO, the union will not be on the outside looking in to what’s happening,” the source added.
The company, United Transco, said in a statement that the union vote will help make the project a reality.
“This is a significant step in ensuring that construction on the Keystone pipeline will begin as scheduled, with a strong, clear environmental review, and that all workers will be able to earn a living wage in our construction sites,” the statement read.
The source added that United has been preparing for this possibility since last year.
The company was already preparing for the potential vote, according the source, when a company spokesman said that “as a result of this vote, we will be putting forward a motion that will be voted on by the workers of our local, which will be binding for the duration of the project.”
A worker walks through the construction site at the South Dakota site where construction crews are assembling for the Keystone oil pipeline in South Carolina.
(AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)The union, however, did not specify what the motion will be and whether the union would make a formal statement on the matter.
“We want the company to work with the union and get this pipeline built,” said the union source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
“That’s our primary goal.”
Union leaders have also been negotiating with the company and are still awaiting approval of a proposal from United that would put the pipeline under a state of emergency to ensure that workers are paid and have adequate medical coverage.
The state of emergencies, which have been used in the past to block oil pipelines, allow a federal judge to grant emergency permits for projects, but it’s not yet clear whether the state of crisis is in place at this time.
United, which operates the Keystone project, said that it will provide workers with raises and benefits in the event of a state crisis.
It will also provide health care and a pension plan to the workers, the company said.
The United spokesperson declined to comment on the specifics of the workers’ proposal.
The workers’ union said in the statement that it is committed to “all efforts to meet our workers’ needs and wants to continue working to bring jobs to our members.”
A statement from the United Trans Company, which is also building the Keystone, said: “United has long supported and supported the Keystone Pipeline project.
We are grateful to the United union for its hard work on this project and we look forward to working together to complete this project.
This is a huge milestone for our company, and we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure it’s built safely.”
The workers at each of the two South Dakota oil platforms are among the estimated 3,400 employees at the projects sites.
The United union, meanwhile, has about 3,100 workers in the United States, the largest number of unionized workers in UTO history.
The oil companies, which are the two largest employers in South Dakotas, have said they will pay their workers a minimum of $12.10 an hour.
The labor union said it will continue organizing workers at those sites.
The pipeline will carry an estimated 1.7 billion barrels of oil a day from the Canadian tar sands to refiners in Illinois