IAM Industrial Conference Kicks Off in Chicago

IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger delivers the keynote address at the opening of the 2015 IAM Industrial Conference.

More than 350 IAM members, leadership and staff kicked off the 2015 IAM Industrial Conference in Chicago, pledging to confront head on the challenges facing workers in the many industries the IAM represents.

The conference brings together delegates from a variety of sectors, including aerospace and Service Contract Act; automotive; energy, natural resources, wood products and agriculture; public and government employees; shipbuilding, brewery, electronics and manufacturing; and metal industries.

Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg thanked the IAM for its continued support of the independent credit agency.

A rapidly changing global economy filled with bankruptcies, mergers and consolidations, coupled with constant attacks from corporate and right-wing interests, has challenged the IAM to adapt and streamline, said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger.

“Everything is connected in the IAM,” said Buffenbarger. “One side makes the stuff the other side uses. One can’t exist alone, so it’s important we engage in a similar track to figure out how we harness the energy of our members.”

The energy of IAM members has been evidenced by the push back on the job-killing Trans Pacific Partnership and recent organizing success in the South and in the aerospace industry.

“It should be a point of pride for everyone in this room that they are part of a union that fights back against corporate bullies and political thugs, who would return us to a time when unions were banned, workers were silenced and resistance was met with blunt and terrible force,” said IAM General Vice President Bob Martinez who is serving as the conference chairperson.

The IAM continues to push for job training and apprentice programs that prepare workers for the jobs of tomorrow and defend agencies like the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, which has come under attack by the right wing even though it supports millions of good-paying U.S. jobs without adding a dime to the federal deficit.

“Last year Ex-Im supported 164,000 American jobs,” Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg told delegates. “If a company wants to make it in America, we are there for them because we support you. If a company wants to make it someplace else, they can find financing someplace else. We support American jobs and only American jobs.”

Conference delegates will finish out the week by breaking out into industry-specific workgroups to learn the skills necessary for the IAM to grow and thrive.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter by using and following #IAMIndustrial2015.

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