Charlotte Labor Leader Shuns Democratic National Convention
Boeing addressed this problem not through the contentious solution pushed by South Carolina politicians, who essentially sought to dismantle decades-old labor laws, but rather through the more productive course of negotiations with the IAM. This led to a landmark 2011 contract agreement.
Formally, the IAM, whose membership is 65% Democratic and 35% Republican, backs Obama. But "our polling shows that members are upset with both parties," Buffenbarger says. "They are not thrilled with Romney, and our Democratic constituency is not happy with the current administration. It is not that they are angry at President Obama, but they are pissed off at Congress, and the president gets sucked into this."
Frequently, IAM members are delegates to the Democratic convention. Since the 1948 convention, the union has averaged about 100 delegates at each Democratic convention. This year, it will have four. "Unlike in 2008, there is a lack of interest this year," Buffenbarger says.
A second factor in the IAM's coolness towards Obama is that within the labor movement, the IAM was perhaps the strongest backer of Hillary Clinton for president in the 2008 Democratic primaries.
"We happened to be the most outspoken and the last to leave the (Clinton) campaign," Buffenbarger says. "I'm not the only one who backed Hillary who continues to feel a backlash from the administration. Most of the unions who were with us also receive very little acknowledgment."
If Clinton were to run for president in 2016, Buffenbarger adds, "We would certainly be interested. She's her own person, but she was an effective voice for us as senator from New York, even on trade deals, and we are a loyal bunch of folks."
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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