Pelosi Brings Rousing Close to 2013 IAM Legislative Conference

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) congratulates retiring Headquarters General Vice President Rich Michalski after her speech at the 2013 IAM Legislative Conference.
Headquarters General Vice President Rich Michalski welcomes House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) to the 2013 IAM Legislative Conference.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told IAM members on the final day of the 2013 Legislative Conference that “the most important thing we can do for our families and our economy is to create jobs.”

Destructive austerity measures such as sequestration, said Pelosi (D-CA), are threatening the middle class and putting the American dream at risk.

“We have people in Washington that are out to undermine working families,” said Pelosi, who fought through a case of laryngitis to close out the annual conference. “We cannot have power be about money. Or power for an elite few at the exploitation of many.”

She railed against “stakeholder capitalism,” which since the 1990s has caused the salaries of CEOs to skyrocket to 350 times the pay of the average worker. Republicans in Congress, Pelosi said, have been more concerned about the latest scandal than passing legislation that would create jobs, raise the minimum wage, and invest in infrastructure and education.

And the bills the GOP has put forth, said Pelosi, like one that would undermine the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and another that would end the 40-hour workweek and overtime pay, do nothing but advance corporate interests on the backs of the middle class.

“We need to have a realization across the country about what’s at stake,” said Pelosi. “This is bigger than Democrats or Republicans, it’s about us. It’s about our competitiveness, our strength, our community.”

Local Lodge 1943 Vice President Andrew Hounshell speaks to Legislative Conference attendees about his campaign to unseat House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). IAM members donated over $3,000 to his campaign this week.
Local Lodge 1943 Vice President Andrew Hounshell speaks to Legislative Conference attendees about his campaign to unseat House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). IAM members donated over $3,000 to his campaign this week.

Pelosi was the final legislator to speak at a conference that featured the likes of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), John Tierney (D-MA) and Mark Pocan (D-WI). Radio talk show host Bill Press and political analyst Charlie Cook joined industry leaders such as Lockheed Martin Vice President Gregory Dalhberg and Transportation Department Deputy Secretary John Porcari in addressing hundreds of Machinists at the four-day conference. IAM members also visited their congressmember on Capitol Hill, with many getting their elected officials to hang IAM flags in their offices.

“Republicans in Congress need to take a look at inequality in this country,” said Rep. Tierney. “The harder we work the lesser of the pie we get. This country finds it unacceptable.”

IAM members also heard from one of their own: Local Lodge 1943 Vice President Andrew Hounshell, who is running to unseat House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). The 37-year old AK Steel employee and Army veteran called the contest for Ohio’s 8th District “a winnable race.”

“What better way to ensure the security of labor than to put unionists in office,” said Hounshell, a father of triplets and son of a 30-year IAM member. “It’s time for us to stop begging and start changing.”

IAM members chipped in over $3,000 to fund Hounshell’s campaign. Click here to visit his campaign website and here for his Facebook page.