At the summit held in Washington D.C. on June 6 called, "Open Discussion on American Manufacturing," the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) urged Senate Democratic leaders to treat the nation's manufacturing crisis like an economic epidemic.
"We cannot afford to be anesthetized by incremental improvements in one index or another," said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. "Since 1999, we have lost over 43,000 manufacturing plants and more than 3.2 million good paying American jobs. No economy can continue to absorb that kind of damage and hope to survive."
Buffenbarger pointed to specific actions the Senate needs to take. "We need tax incentives for renovating and retooling older factories. We need an alternative to college for high school graduates that provides the skills needed to compete in the global economy and we desperately need to put a tourniquet on trade deals and tax breaks that are killing jobs and hope for so many Americans families."
Buffenbarger cited polling by the IAM in core manufacturing states where more than four-fifths of respondents supported the establishment of an industrial policy. Seven out of ten respondents in the same poll said they would forgo a future tax cut if they could see real investment in job creation programs.
The IAM is among the largest industrial trade unions in North America, representing more than 700,000 active and retired members in aerospace, transportation, shipbuilding and dozens of smaller industries.