‘Enough of the Status Quo’: IAM Members Take On, Push Back Fast Track

IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger addresses hundreds of delegates at the 2015 IAM Legislative Conference. (Photo: Bill Burke / Page One Photography)

It took Machinists Union activists less than 24 hours to make their presence felt on Capitol Hill.

The 2015 IAM Legislative Conference kicked off Monday, just as Congress was considering a bill to “Fast Track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a measure that would bar Congress from any meaningful debate or ability to offer amendments to the massive free trade deal.

Learn more about how Fast Track and the TPP threaten democracy, jobs, the environment and the internet at StopFastTrack.com.

“We’re about to kick off the biggest fight in Washington, DC,” IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger told delegates before they headed off to meet with legislators on Capitol Hill.

They brought the fight to the halls of Congress, and for now, the IAM and working families everywhere have won.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted down a cloture motion that would have allowed the Fast Track bill to advance. The Obama administration had been lobbying day and night to convince enough Democrats to support the measure.

“Today, working Americans sent a thunderous message to supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: The days of sitting on the sidelines as disastrous free-trade deals are railroaded through Congress are over,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “We commend the 45 Senators who stood up for working families and the middle class by rejecting attempts to cut off debate on the ‘Fast Track to More Lost Jobs’ trade bill. They voted for transparency and openness in how the U.S. Trade Representative negotiates trade deals. Their vote today is one step in the right direction toward fair trade agreements that are open for all to view and that are based on raising up workers at home and abroad—not like past deals that drag down economies and exploit workers while making the richest people in the world even richer. Today we say enough of the status quo.”

TAKE ACTION: We’re far from out of the woods on Fast Track or TPP – we need to keep the pressure on Congress. Call your Senators at 202-224-3121, and then send them an email.

IAM activists are also fighting to save the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, an independent export credit agency that sustains U.S. jobs, especially in manufacturing, by financing and insuring foreign purchases of U.S. goods.

Tea Party Republicans have targeted the Ex-Im Bank for extinction, even though the bank doesn’t rely on taxpayer funds and returned over $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury in 2013 alone. After begrudgingly accepting a short-term extension of Ex-Im last September, the same interests want to kill it once and for all. The bank’s charter will end on June 30 if Congress doesn’t act.

“If we lose the Ex-Im bank, our products become uncompetitive elsewhere,” said Buffenbarger. “This is why the foreign corporations wouldn’t mind if we killed the Ex-Im bank. It’s a war against the American worker.”

IAM legislative delegates will also be lobbying on Capitol Hill to protect multi-employer pension plans and repeal a tax on so-called “Cadillac” health insurance plans. They’ll hear from numerous members of Congress, including Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Denny Heck (D-WA).

See photos from the conference on the Machinists Union Facebook page.

Follow along and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #IAMLeg2015.