Organized labor in Los Angeles recently launched an ad campaign blasting Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti over his proposed “Green New Deal,” claiming the environmental plan would cost union jobs, increase energy bills, and erode the middle-class.
Television and radio spots supported by a seven-figure ad buy began permeating Southern California airwaves earlier this month. A TV commercial broadcast during primetime viewing hours references an unfulfilled, six-year-old Garcetti vow to eliminate homelessness in L.A. if elected mayor. A recent count showed 36,300 homeless people within the city limits, a 16% increase over last year.
Partial transcript as follows:
Remember when Eric Garcetti pledged to end homelessness in L.A.? A billion of our tax dollars spent and the crisis is worse than ever. Now he wants green taxes on L.A. drivers and utility rate hikes on local families. Let’s pump the brakes on Garcetti’s new taxes. The only thing green will be money coming out of our wallets.
The drive is sponsored by the Working Californians Research Fund, a nonprofit advocacy organization and front group for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 18. The union represents about 9,000 workers at the L.A. Department of Water and Power, the largest municipal utility in the United States.
Brian D’Arcy, who founded Working Californians and also serves as business manager of IBEW Local 18, said Garcetti’s proposal is one of several progressive environmental policies pushing union workers toward Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
“It’s already happening,” D’Arcy revealed.
Politico recently reported that D’Arcy “said he has heard from scores of members who are so angered about the issue they are considering sitting out the election – or even casting a ballot for Trump.”
“I’m getting hate mail and blowback from our workers, saying the Democratic Party is doing nothing for us,” D’Arcy claimed.
In April, IBEW members protested Garcetti’s decision to abandon plans to rebuild three coastal natural gas plants. The mayor unveiled his Green New Deal at a press conference later that month. According to Politico, “hundreds of jeans-wearing, tattooed union members outside of the event chanted ‘Garcetti’s gotta go’ and denounced the move as a betrayal.”
Garcetti’s aggressive goals include phasing out gas-fueled cars and call for 80% of electricity to be generated by the sun, wind, or water. They were sold as L.A.’s version of the Green New Deal climate change policies advocated by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
Several energy workers’ unions spoke out against Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal earlier this year, calling her suggested reforms “threats to our members’ jobs and families’ standard of living.”
According to a Working Californians spokesman, Garcetti’s idea would result in “the loss of 1,800 jobs for electrical workers,” sacrificing highly-skilled organized labor for low-paying ‘green jobs.’ Occupational data indicates that many employment opportunities created by the green economy are for landscaping, maintenance, and areas that require a minimum amount of training.
The campaign also said Garcetti’s green deal would cause utility bills to “double or triple” in costs to ratepayers, which could lead to more homelessness. A radio commercial warns that the initiative would increase gas prices and worsen traffic congestion.
“This is a generational battle between the old way of doing business and a new way of doing business,” Garcetti said.
Working Californians told KFI Radio it would “ramp up” its efforts against Garcetti before the end of this year, with the next strategic phase expected to be “more of a call to action.”
In 2013, Working Californians ran a political action committee that collected more than $4 million in support of Garcetti’s mayoral opponent, Wendy Greuel. Its largest donor was IBEW Local 18, which along with its affiliates, spent $2 million in pursuit of defeating Garcetti in that race. Garcetti won the election, was re-elected in 2017, and will be termed out in 2022.
Follow Jeffrey Cawood on Twitter @JeffreyCawood.