Historically, unions emerged to represent and fight for the interests of all workers – if only they still did so. A California town was set to welcome a new Japanese factory -drawing 300 jobs to the area. Now, hundreds of unemployed workers can say goodbye to those job prospects thanks to underhanded local union tactics.

The California city of Palmdale worked out an agreement for the Japanese company to build a $60 million factory on a city-owned, vacant parcel of land. Not to be left out, unions approached the company seeking a card check agreement, where a company accepts the union if a majority of workers sign authorization cards. The company declined, citing their good salaries and benefits and history of no labor disputes. They did not preclude their workers from organizing though.

Suddenly, an environmental group popped up – backed by the same union – making environmental claims that the Japanese company did not secure water rights or that the project could be harmful. The company nixed plans to build a plant, but proposed renovating a hanger it is currently operating in and even that was challenged by the faux environmental group.

With a wink and nod, the union claims they only care about the environmental issues. What they are really saying is “We run this town. You only operate on our terms.”

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Kinkisharyo International of Osaka said it is now looking at factory sites outside California, saying pressure from organized labor has made it difficult to do business in the state. Union officials and activists, however, argue they are simply trying to hold the company to environmental rules it should be following.

Kinkisharyo won a $890-million contract to build 175 light-rail cars for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority two years ago.

The 60-acre Palmdale site that Kinkisharyo chose, however, came under fire this last summer when local activists — including members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 — presented the city with a 588-page appeal claiming violations of state environmental law. The document says that the factory has not secured proper water rights, and that construction could kick up spores that carry valley fever.

Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro board member Michael D. Antonovich accused labor leaders of "greenmail" tactics — using the environmental law as leverage to convince Kinkisharyo to promise that its workforce would be unionized.

The appeal has already delayed the factory's construction four months and has cost Kinkisharyo at least $2 million, Boss said. He added that Metro's ambitious schedule for the rail car delivery — an average of four new vehicles a month — leaves little room for delay.

Critics might say that surely, the local unions are just looking after the needs of local workers. However, card check erodes workers’ rights to privacy in choosing whether to be a part of or form a union. That’s a right that should not be violated or exposed to retribution. Nor should one group determine the organization of all workers, who may disagree.

The tactics that the union used here are odious – and that’s kind. They get no sympathy from local officials or businesses. Unemployed residents will remain out of work, dollars that could have been generated from the new factory are forgone, and potential growth for the city has evaporated.

What this union did was exposed that their real motivation is self-preservation and anything or anyone they see as a threat to that will be eliminated.