IAM human rights activists, women’s rights activists, community service activists and young workers enjoyed five days of phenomenal speakers, guests and workshops focused on learning how to improve conditions in the workplace, community and nation at the 2011 Inaugural International Human Rights Conference at the Lake Buena Vista Palace Hotel in Lake Buena Vista, FL.
“We must re-write the labor and civil rights movements,” declared featured speaker Reverend Al Sharpton, President and Founder of the National Action Network. “Over the last several months there has been an overt attempt to break collective bargaining, to break unions, to rescind our right to organize and protect workers, and – to add insult to injury – blame workers for a recession that the exploiters of workers caused.
“The problem is we have the wrong people defining who’s who in America. We must reunite the family of the civil rights community and the labor rights community – because we are the same people. We have got to protect labor in order to protect ourselves,” said Sharpton.
Speakers included Diane Babineaux, Chief of Staff to the International President, IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger, IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Warren Mart, IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Bob Martinez, Jr., IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary Allen, IAM Headquarters General Vice President Rich Michalski, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, Coalition of Labor Union Women President Karen See, Senior Executive Director of the TCU/IAM Manpower Training Department Diane Dettmann and Mary Cornish, Senior Partner of the Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton McIntyre & Cornish law firm.
“This conference is an opportunity to think about the fundamental role of our union, not only the lives of our members, but in America, when it comes to embracing diversity and tackling the many challenges ahead for working families and the middle class,” said Babineaux. “Human rights is about all of us.”
“Human rights is no longer about recognizing and servicing a specific or defined interest of people. It’s about everybody,” said President Buffenbarger. “It’s not just about minorities and people of color. It’s about the elderly. It’s about the young people. It’s about people who are disabled. It’s about people who just happen to care about the greater picture of life on earth and how people are treated. It’s an outreach in capturing the power of all the faiths our members represent and all the other organizations and community powers they’re involved in. That’s what this conference is designed to do.”