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Line 5, Labor Unions and Democratic lawmakers in Michigan

July 14, 2019

Last week, several Michigan news sources, including Michigan Advance, reported that at least six Democratic State Representatives signed a letter in opposition to the lawsuit that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5.

Michigan Advance reported that six Democratic State Representatives – Brian Elder (D-Bay City), Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods), Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette), Wendell Byrd (D-Detroit), John Chirkun (D-Roseville) and Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon) – signed on to a letter, that was critical of the Attorney General’s desire to shut down the Enbridge run Line 5.

The article also stated:

The Democrats added that Line 5 is critical for transportation fuels, consumer goods and home heating energy, something echoed by Republican senators last month.

Not only are there Democratic lawmakers in Michigan who support Line 5, there are several labor unions that do as well. One of them signed on to a letter written with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce earlier this year, which states: 

Dear Governor Whitmer,

We believe in your leadership, your commitment to jobs, doing what’s right for Michiganders and protecting and preserving our magnificent Great Lakes.

So let’s get the job done. The underground tunnel beneath the Straits will be the largest construction project in Michigan since we built the Mackinac Bridge. It will create many good-paying construction jobs, allow the continued supply of essential energy to heat family homes in the Upper Peninsula, fuel businesses and jobs across our entire state, and protect the Great Lakes as Line is removed from the floor of the Straits. 

You have worked to build consensus on many issues. On the issue of building an underground tunnel to replace Line 5, business and labor agree. So let private industry, private funding and Michigan workers build the Straits Tunnel.

Securing Michigan’s future is in your hands.


Michigan Chamber of Commerce
Operating Engineers 324

Here the emphasis in on job creation, specifically jobs for construction workers in Michigan.

Last month, Crain’s Detroit Business reported that at least two Michigan labor unions had been lobbying Gov. Whitmer to support Line 5, again because of the construction jobs. 

The connection between jobs, labor unions and the six Democratic State Representatives becomes even clearer, when you see that these same state representatives have all received substantial campaign funding support from the very unions that would likely benefit from the construction of new energy pipelines.

If you go to the hyperlink for each of the six Democrats that oppose the Attorney General’s lawsuit against Line 5, you can see that each of them have received substantial support from labor unions which would benefit from the construction of Line 5.

Rep. Terry Sabo 

Rep. Brian Elder 

Rep. Tenisha Yancey 

Rep. John Chirkun 

Rep. Sara Cambensy 

Rep. Wendell Byrd 

One lesson from this is that it is not just corporations or wealthy people whom we should be concerned about in regards to campaign financing, but even labor unions can support politicians, which support policies that are unjust and unsustainable, such as the Line 5 pipeline project operated by Enbridge.

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