USW, Trade Union Group File Brief Supporting Continued Use of Pipeline

Contact: R.J. Hufnagel, 412-562-2450,

The United Steelworkers union (USW) joined North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU) this week in filing an amicus brief in support of energy supplier Enbridge Inc.’s legal effort to ensure the continued operation of the company’s Line 5 pipeline while a new tunnel is constructed under the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge is seeking to prevent the state of Michigan from shutting down the line, and the unions joined in arguing that, because Congress has made the regulation of interstate pipelines a federal issue, the line’s future should be determined by the federal government without state interference.

Line 5 carries crude oil and other products through the upper Midwest and parts of Canada. The 645-mile pipeline supplies refineries, other businesses and residences throughout the region, including Toledo Refining Co., which employs about 350 members of USW Local 912.

“Line 5 is essential to both our environmental and economic future,” said USW Local 912 President Justin Donley. “Workers in Toledo, and families and communities throughout Ohio and Michigan will benefit if the pipeline is allowed to continue operating.”

In addition to supporting workers at the Toledo refinery and hundreds of other jobs in the area, Line 5 is crucial to ensuring jet fuel supplies for carriers at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, heating oil for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and other utility needs.

The unions filed their joint brief on Feb. 1, pointing out to the court the devastating impact that shutting Line 5 would have on refinery workers and building trades members throughout the Midwest. The brief is part of an ongoing effort by workers to keep Line 5 running until the Great Lakes Tunnel Project, which will safely bury the pipe deep under the straits, is completed.

Those efforts have included rallies, petitions, and statements of support from lawmakers in Ohio and Michigan. In December, USW members delivered thousands of petition signatures to the office of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer calling on her to preserve the pipeline. In addition, USW members have delivered testimony to state legislators in Ohio and Michigan about the importance of keeping Line 5 in operation during the replacement project.

“Shutting this line down could be disastrous,” said Donnie Blatt, director of USW District 1, which represents Steelworkers in the state of Ohio. “It would mean more tankers on our railways and highways, which creates the potential for accidents and spills. Keeping the product in the pipeline until the tunnel is built is the best path forward.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in health care, public sector, higher education, tech and service occupations

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Media Contacts

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USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

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United Steelworkers
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60 Blvd. of the Allies
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