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Buffenbarger Hails Machinists
as North America's Might

In a unique opening ceremony, the 36th Grand Lodge Convention in Cincinnati got underway as eight IAM delegates rose from their seats and requested permission to join the Honor Guard for the traditional escort of the colors.

From Local 1 in Atlanta, Georgia, where the IAM was founded 116 years ago, delegate James Coker rose and told how IAM rail members move freight and passengers over millions of miles every year. “We are an integral part of North America’s Might,” declared the IAM rail worker, invoking the theme of the convention.

Coker was followed by Ralph Martin, from Local 863 in Burlington, Ontario, where IAM members make cans and containers used by industries across the continent. “I, and my brothers and sisters from Canada, are also a significant part of North America’s Might.” He too, was granted permission to join the color guard.

Six more delegates rose and spoke about what it means to be a vital link in the North American economy. Delegate Sam Rodriguez, a retired Grand Lodge Representative, introduced his son, New York City Detective Jose Rodriguez, a former Northwest Airlines Machinist who delivered last rites to Father Mike Judge in the wreckage of the World Trade Center. “Our family, like the families of so many Machinists, was directly affected by the terrorist attacks,” said Detective Rodriguez. “And yet, we remain an integral part of North America’s Might.”

The delegates then joined with the honor guard from the Cincinnati Firefighters Local 48 and marched to the stage on waves of applause from their fellow Machinists.

The theme of “North America’s Might” also resounded through International President Tom Buffenbarger’s keynote address. Reeling off a litany of key industries across North America, Buffenbarger drew applause again and again as he paid homage to the members whose jobs are central to the economies of the U.S. and Canada.

From Machinists operating generators inside the Grand Coulee Dam to aerospace, airline and rail workers who build, operate and maintain the nation’s transportation system, “our jobs and our members are essential to the continent’s economy,” declared Buffenbarger.

“We are so skilled in our daily tasks, so vital to the success of the companies we work for, so “mission critical” in so many industries, that we are ‘the indispensables’.”
- President Buffenbarger

Buffenbarger was equally blunt about the events that rocked our countries, our union and our economies during the past four years. “The last four years have been an unmitigated disaster for tens of thousands of our IAM brothers and sisters,” said Buffenbarger. “And yet, even in the midst of these man-made tornadoes, the IAM has had significant victories.”

In the coming week, Buffenbarger urged the delegates to act on changes needed to preserve what he called the IAM’s “critical mass.” “There are things we must do this week to keep this union strong,” said Buffenbarger, who called for major commitments to organizing, contract negotiations and support for an accounting system that protects local financial officers.

“Being a Fighting Machinist means fighting for what is right, fighting for what is ours,” said Buffenbarger in closing. “Creating a solidarity of spirit will enable us to win each and every one of these fights – And win we will.”



Submitted to the
IAM 36th Grand
Lodge Convention

Convention agenda beginning Sunday 9/19/2004

The 36th Grand Lodge Convention Photo Gallery.

36th GLC Videos
IAM Showcases North America's Might

IP Buffenbarger Opens 36th Grand Lodge Convention