On Friday, September 14th, 2012, International President Tom Buffenbarger declare the 38th Grand Lodge Convention of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers adjourned. This capped a week of education and business conducted under his friendly and relaxed style of chairmanship.
There were minor amendments to the constitution made and resolutions passed. Full report on these will be made once the offical documents are published. But for most delegates, the panel discussions and guest speaker were the most memorable interludes.
Jerry Springer’s speech stands out as a real crowd pleaser. We are all familiar with his TV show where the occasional chair gets thrown between his guests. Most of us are unaware Jerry is a friend of Unions in general and the Machinist Union in particular. He served as the Mayor of Cincinnati and has been a life long Democrat. His defence of Health Insurance was humourous and cutting. Before the current law, popularily dubbed Obama Care, was enacted, 30 million Americans had NO health insurance. Now all will be covered. People who got sick, or worse whose children got sick, could be denied coverage when insurance needed to be renewed. No longer is this allowed. Obama Care is still hobbled by the decision to continue to use private insurers, unlike the single payer (i.e. the government) system the rest of the industrialized world uses. But it is a giant leap forward considering where they started.
Jerry told an anecdote to illustrate his point. Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for the presidency, promises to repeal the health laws on the first day in office. This would strip the insurance from 30 million Americans immediately. Jerry suggested that not one Repulican would turn down aid to a sick child if a desperate parent came to their door. But, as a group, they are willing to do just that to a whole phlanax of children with the stroke of a pen.
The IAM is involved with Unions around the world. The new global alliance Industriall brings together Aerospace unions to challenge multi-national corporations on their own playing field. As Valter Sanches of the German National Conferation of Metalworkers pointed out, corporations running just-in-time or lean-manufacturing operations, where parts from around the world are brought together on the morning of their use, are now vunerable to disruptions in far off countries if local Trade Unionist can delay a part for even a day. International Solidarity can effectively support brother and sisters in another country in a way that never existed in the old era of large inventories. Now a lack of a $5 part can bring an entire assembly line to a halt.
Human Rights are important to our Union. What we desire for ourselves, we desire for all. One panel tackled the issue of Labour Rights, a second the toxic legacy of Corporate Criminals. Also speaking that day were Thomas Mulcair, leader of the Officical Opposition and leader of the NDP and Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian labour Congress. General Wesley Clarke gave an inspirational presentation of leadership.
Health Care was the front and center for both in the US and the world, Jobs Now! was the theme on Thursday and Women Around the World was the focus on the last day.
Highlight videos of the proceeding are available for viewing at the International Machinists’ web site goiam.org.