Independent labor voice and former International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers General President, Tom Buffenbarger discussed the Bath Iron Works strike, current and future troubles at Boeing and more when he appeared on America’s Work Force Radio Podcast on Aug. 25.
Bath Iron Works Strike
Buffenbarger started by talking about a strike that just ended. It was the largest ongoing strike at the time and lasted from June 22 until the night of Aug. 23.
After a resounding 87 percent of the IAM Local S6 membership voted in favor of the new contract, they returned to work at Bath Iron Works. The workers build ships for the Navy and were demanding further protections against subcontracting, among other things.
Buffenbarger said the solidarity was on full display. Older tradespeople showed the upcoming tradespeople the importance of unionism, collective bargaining and solidarity.
Buffenbarger said he is worried about what could happen at Boeing, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With a sharp decrease in air travel, Boeing and other airline manufacturers have slowed production of new aircraft. The slowed production brings the threat of looming layoffs and permanent job cuts.
He also discussed a tactic that may be used in the future by Boeing. They have a union workforce at their factory in Washington, though their South Carolina factory workforce is not. Buffenbarger described a situation where Boeing could halt production at the Washington factory, while continuing production in South Carolina and costing thousands of union jobs.
Buffenbarger then touched on the anti-union sentiment of the Republican National Convention (RNC). A union busting figure was given a platform to speak at the convention, leaving Buffenbarger to question her motivations.
Lastly, he lamented President Trump’s call to boycott Goodyear, an Ohio company that employs thousands of union workers.