There's a new political alliance being announced today, linking unions and more "Republican" leaning groups. The Washington Post reports that:
In a first-of-its-kind alliance that could fundamentally reshape the environmental movement, 20 labor unions with nearly 5 million members are joining forces with a Republican-leaning umbrella group of conservationists -- the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership -- to put pressure on Congress and the Bush administration.
The Union Sportsman's Alliance, to be rolled out in Washington on Tuesday after nearly three years of quiet negotiations, is to be a dues-based organization ($25 a year). Its primary goal is to increase federal funding for protecting wildlife habitat while guaranteeing access for hunters and anglers.
The unlikely marriage of union and conservation interests comes at a time when the Bush administration, with its push for oil and gas drilling in the Rocky Mountain West, has limited public access to prime hunting and fishing areas on federal land. This has triggered a bipartisan backlash from sportsmen and conservation groups, as well as from Western politicians in both parties.
The fishing and hunting is a little tough in Manhattan but it is something that a lot of union members engage in, according to public opinion surveys conducted by unions:
Several senior union officials said they wanted to join forces with conservation interests because they are concerned about the declining percentage of unionized employees in the U.S. workforce. They see the alliance as a way to excite and involve blue-collar workers who are passionate about hunting and fishing.
Together with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the 20 labor unions -- most of them in the building trades -- recently commissioned a poll that found that 70 percent of union members hunt or fish. As important, 72 percent of those polled said they are concerned about the loss of good places to do either. The poll also found that about a quarter of union members said they belonged to the National Rifle Association, an affiliation that displeases some Democratic union leaders.
This isn't the first alliance between labor and environmentalists--the Apollo Alliance has a green-blue tint to it, focusing on alternative energy and good union jobs. It will be interesting to see if this alliance is successful at countering the NRA support for anti-union candidates.