The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) will propose an eight-point “JOBS Now!” initiative, that it w ill ask the AFL-CIO to adopt at its 2009 convention this September. The ambitious goal of the IAM campaign is to find work for the 30.2 million Americans who are unemployed, involuntarily working part-time or who want a job and can’t find one, says Tom Buffenbarger, IAM’s international union president.
The IAM resolution calls for a national jobs program. similar to the public works projects during the Great Depression, that can “rebuild America’s manufacturing sector and put seven million Americans back to work—immediately,” Also included in the resolution are proposals for a tuition-free, two-year skills training program; creation of green jobs; operating assistance to America’s transit system and a “Buy American law with teeth.”
The Machinists intend to press the Obama administration for s second economic stimulus package, one aimed at the manufacturing and transportation sectors. A union statement said: “President Obama’s economic stimulus plan is a start toward economic recovery but the program is not broad enough to create needed jobs now, rebuild our manufacturing sector. provide training for workers and children preparing for the future, maintain our national defense, provide a real Buy American program and reform labor law.”
Meanwhile, the global economy is sinking deeper into recession. In April, Industrial production was down 33 percent in Japan, 19 percent or more in Italy, Germany, Taiwan and Sweden, and more than 12 percent in Great Britain and the United States, according to the magazine, The Economist.
With many economists predicting that layoffs will probably continue into 2011, Buffenbarger pledges that “until this mega-recession ends and real, sustained job-creating growth starts, JOBS Now! will remain our primary focus.”
IAM President Will Propose Reforms to Strengthen AFL-CIO
Buffenbargar is expected to present a series of financial and organizational reforms to the delegates at the AFL-CIO’s September convention--changes, which he said, would dramatically reshape and revitalize the 54-year-old labor federation.
The proposed changes are an outgrowth of a two-day conference on June 2-3, called by Buffenbarger and attended by 23 international unions representing three-fifths of the entire AFL-CIO membership. They discussed a set of draft constitutional amendments and resolutions contained in a White Paper, prepared by the IAM, which dealt with three subjects: declining political power, solvency of the federation’s finances and governance.
According to Buffenbarger, the meeting focused on systemic changes that could strengthen the labor federation’s finances and increase its political clout “We discussed a range of changes needed to modernize and upgrade existing capabilities. We tallied up the current expenses and matched them to projected revenues. And we sought to reassert the historic role of the Executive Council,” Buffenbarger explained.
The White Paper noted that the labor movement had contributed $294.5 million to senators and representatives currently serving in the 111th Congress, yet labor’s clout had not increased on par with the increased donations. Another issue of deep concern to the participating unions was the perilous financial state of the AFL-CIO, whose net assets had declined from $66 million in July 1, 2000 to a negative $2.3 million on June 30.
In order for the affiliated unions to have some authority over the finances of the AFL-CIO, Buffenbarger is calling for new financial controls to “increase transparency and accountability.”
A third issue at the meeting was the governance of the labor federation, with the IAM complaining that it is becoming increasingly staff-driven, but should be more officer-driven. The union is recommending the creation of four executive vice presidents, each administering departments and programs as assigned by the president.
This is the first time in more than a decade that dissatisfaction with the Sweeney-Trumka leadership has surfaced so broadly, with a strong possibility there will be heated debates, challenges and unexpected outcomes at the convention. Thanks to Buffenbarger and the IAM, the reformers finally have a voice.