IAM Activists Gather for 2013 Legislative Conference


IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger addresses delegates to the 2013 IAM Legislative Conference in Washington, DC.

Hundreds of IAM members are making their voices heard in Washington D.C., this week, talking to elected officials on Capitol Hill and listening to industry leaders and politicians at the 2013 IAM Legislative Conference.

This year, the annual conference is concentrating on ending the job-killing sequester and other austerity measures, protecting retirement security and preventing trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that ship jobs overseas. Members are also working to preserve defense investments, keep knives off commercial planes and to change parts of the new health care law that penalize people who already have insurance.

IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger receives a plaque from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) after signing a pledge to “continually recognize and support our country’s service members and their families in peace, in crisis and in war.”

In addition to these issues and more, IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger emphasized the importance of every district, local and shop organizing and growing the IAM and the labor movement.

“If we don’t organize, we don’t have power. If we don’t have numbers, we don’t have power,” said Buffenbarger. “We don’t teach our kids what we do or why we do it. They come into the workforce not knowing about unions. That’s not acceptable for a Machinists’ family.”

After his keynote speech, Buffenbarger signed a proclamation and received a plaque from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) that pledges the IAM to “continually recognize and support our country’s service members and their families in peace, in crises and in war.”

Speakers at the conference, which started on Monday and runs until Thursday, have included Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), radio talk show host Bill Press, Boeing Vice President Timothy Keating and United Airlines Vice President Nancy Van Duyne.

“This notion of equality of opportunity, that’s what is actually missing right now in our society,” said Rep. Delaney, who received a union scholarship to attend college. “Labor and the organizations you create to help every worker in this country is an important part of the equation to getting this country back on track.”

Speakers also noted the destructive legislation being pushed by Republicans recently: one that would take enforcement power away from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and another that would end the 40-hour workweek and overtime pay as we know it.

Rep. Pocan, who was serving in the Wisconsin State Legislature when Republican Gov. Scott Walker ended collective bargaining for public employees, called the labor movement “critical to our duty to protecting the American dream.”