International President Tom Buffenbarger spoke with 200 delegates at the 2010 MNPL Planning Committee meeting in Savannah, GA, about challenges and opportunities in the upcoming mid-term elections.
Calling it the most challenging political and economic environment in decades, IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger urged members of the MNPL National Planning Committee to hold labor’s political allies to higher standards than ever before, and to make certain that candidates don’t develop “amnesia” once they become elected.
Citing weak support from Arkansas Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln and others for labor’s political agenda, Buffenbarger welcomed the entry of Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter into that state’s democratic primary. “We have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” said Buffenbarger of the effort to replace Lincoln. “We need to send a message to Democrats that the day has come for them to stop taking our support for granted.”
While high-profile Senate and House races are drawing heavy media attention around the country, Buffenbarger reminded delegates that the 2010 elections will also determine who sits in governors’ mansions in ten of the nation’s largest states. “Governors have key roles in the redistricting process,” said Buffenbarger. “At stake is nothing less than the growth and security of this union and our nation.”
In a review of pending issues affecting IAM members, General Vice President Rich Michalski urged delegates to focus on developments at Boeing, Pratt & Whitney and on the Space Coast in Florida. “Tens of thousands of jobs are at stake,” declared Michalski. “We need politicians to understand we will hold them accountable when these companies use tax dollars to send our jobs overseas.”
Additional presentations on the first day of the four-day meeting included a welcome and review of state politics by Georgia AFL-CIO President Richard Ray, a roundup of key Senate races by Lori LaFave, formerly of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and a report from NFFE-IAM National Secretary-Treasurer William Fenaughty.