National Staff Conference Underway in Toronto

Dozens of young Machinists – ages 25 years and under – were recognized as the “future of our union” during opening remarks by International President Tom Buffenbarger.

Nearly 600 Machinists and guests gathered in Toronto, Ontario, this week for the 2011 IAM National Staff Conference.

IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger recognized General Secretary-Treasurer Warren Mart for his 45 years of commitment.

IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger opened the conference by calling attention to the youngest members of our union – ages 25 years and under.

President Buffenbarger asked each of the young members to stand, saying to delegates, “this is our future. If you look around this room and you look beyond those young faces that may be seated next to you, take a look at what you see. It is an aging leadership in this union,” he said.  “It’s hard to plan for our future when many are looking at the exit door.

All districts and unaffiliated local lodges were asked to send young Machinists union members to Toronto in order to participate in the IAM’s first ever Youth Symposium, being held in conjunction with this week’s staff conference.

“We must look to our younger members. We owe them the same great organization that was left to all of us 123 years ago,” said Buffenbarger. “They have a lot of ideas. But we have to ask them. We have to open the pathway for those ideas to be floated out. That begins today.”

International President Tom Buffenbarger presented Grand Lodge Representative Tim Klima with a token of appreciation for the IAM Rep’s Association’s commitment to IAM organizing efforts.

Buffenbarger further set the tone for the conference with candid opening remarks about recent attacks on middle-class families and the upcoming 2012 elections. He expressed his disappointment in Washington, DC’s continued lack of support for working families, while sending a poignant message to members of the Democratic Party.

“I have had it with the Democratic Party’s see-no-evil, speak-no- evil, do-nothing-about-the-evil that surrounds us,” said Buffenbarger. “When the President of the United States bashed business jets, not one Democrat stood up and said, ‘Hold the phone!’ When millions of Americans were thrown out of work, what was the best a Democratic Congress and Administration could say? ‘Jobs, jobs, jobs’ while they ‘cut, cut, cut’ taxes for the wealthiest. And when the NLRB filed a complaint against Boeing, was there even one Democrat who stood up and said. “It’s about time the law breakers were punished?’ Not a one.”

International President Tom Buffenbarger recognized District 725 Business Representative and Area 1 Director Virginia Cobb for her 50 years as an IAM member.

Other speakers included General Secretary-Treasurer Warren Mart who reported the IAM is on the road to financial recovery.  Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt brought delegates to their feet with a stirring speech about the fight to save public sector collective bargaining rights in that state.