Buffenbarger Hits Airwaves to Defend South Carolina Workforce


South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has repeatedly voiced her disdain for union jobs. Haley once said that she wears heels so she can “kick those unions hard.”

In a recent interview on America’s Work Force (AWF) Radio, IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger tells the story of an interesting encounter he had with anti-union South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) a few years back at an international aerospace trade show.

“South Carolina had a big display about bringing work to South Carolina,” Buffenbarger told AWF host Ed “Flash” Ferenc. “I happened to approach the booth, and the governor was there greeting people.”

Haley was at the Farnborough Airshow in England to sell South Carolina as a good place for aerospace companies to set up shop. Boeing had recently chosen North Charleston as the site for one of two final assembly points for the 787 Dreamliner.

Buffenbarger recalls asking Haley why companies should bring work to her state.

“She said No. 1 – taxes are low, and No. 2 – we don’t allow unions. Those were the first two things out of her mouth.”

Click here to listen to the entire interview. Buffenbarger’s segment begins at approximately 14 minutes, 30 seconds.

Haley took office in 2011 alongside a wave of anti-worker Republicans governors that included John Kasich in Ohio and Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Since then, she’s made it clear that good-paying union jobs aren’t welcome in South Carolina, a state that already has the third-lowest unionization rate in the country.

Haley has said she discourages companies with union-represented workers from bringing jobs to South Carolina and that she wears heels so she can “kick those unions hard.”

“The fact is, South Carolina has good people,” said Buffenbarger. “They have good workers and I think they’re going to come to find out why the rest of Boeing is organized and they’re going to do the right thing as well.”

IAM contracts have provided hundreds of thousands of aerospace workers with better wages, good benefits and a secure retirement. The Machinists Union has partnered with aerospace companies across North America to provide education, training and rehabilitation services to IAM-represented workers.

Among full-time and salary workers, union members earned $200 more per week than their non-union counterparts in 2013. Union workers are also more likely to have job-related health coverage and a guaranteed pension than non-union employees.

But that doesn’t seem to mean much to Haley, who continues to vehemently discourage workers from exercising their right to organize.

Maybe she should study her state’s history a little more – Tom Talbot, who founded the Machinists Union in 1888, was born on a South Carolina farm and is buried in Florence, SC.

He’s “doing flip flops” in his grave, said Buffenbarger.

Click here to listen to the entire interview.