IAM President Salutes Tennessee Machinists

Members of the Tennessee State Council of Machinists met in Gatlinburg, TN to address issues facing active and retired IAM members across the Volunteer State.

IAM President Tom Buffenbarger and members of the Executive Council traveled to the Tennessee State Council of Machinists meeting to deliver personal thanks to IAM activists in the Volunteer State who endure and prevail in what may be the most extreme anti-union political environment in the U.S.

“The people of Tennessee deserve far better than the right-wing zealots that dominate both houses of this state’s legislature in Nashville,” said Buffenbarger. “It’s practically become an anti-union free fire zone, with bills to criminalize lawful picketing and the outrageous interference by the governor into the union vote at Volkswagen. Let no one ever doubt that elections do indeed have consequences.”

IAM General Counsel Mark Schneider gave an update of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court that have potential to impact IAM members.

Like many states dominated by the Tea Party-infused GOP, legislative districts in Tennessee were radically redrawn following the most recent census to ensure serious challenges to incumbents are virtually impossible. The rightward shift in Tennessee is compounded by the growing influence of conservative advocacy groups pushing for tax cuts, measures to block public transportation and anti-Medicaid legislation.

Despite political opposition at nearly every turn, IAM representatives in Tennessee continue to organize, advocate and represent IAM members at the Trane Company, TVA, Alstom, Goodman, Oak Ridge and elsewhere.

“The IAM owes a debt of gratitude to the members and representatives in Tennessee for all they’ve done over the years,” said Buffenbarger, who attended his first Tennessee State Council meeting in 1980. “The South may be a difficult environment for labor unions today, but the IAM has always been a force to be reckoned with in Tennessee and that’s not about to change any time soon.”