Now, Here's A Shocker: A Hypocritical Union Boss Who Endorses Secret-Ballots

Tom Buffenbarger - CAP

It’s D-Day in Seattle. Or, more specifically, it’s decision-making time for the Machinists’ union members who work at Boeing in the Puget Sound are.


Regardless of how the vote at Boeing turns out, here’s something of an interesting twist:

Do you remember the hallucinogenically-named Employee Free Choice Act (aka EFCA)?

It was a union-backed bill that actually passed the House of Representatives in 2007 and, after union bosses spent millions Democrats elected in 2008, it died an ignominious death in the U.S. Senate back in 2009.

EFCA (or “card check,” as it became known) was union bosses’ attempt to effectively strip workers of their right to secret-ballot elections when deciding whether or not to unionize.

Well, when it comes to voting on a contract that he wants passed, Machinists union boss Tom Buffenbarger seems to have reversed his position.

Now, he actually likes secret-ballot votes:

Tom Buffenbarger, president of the 720,000-member International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, made the statement in a Thursday letter to members of his union’s Seattle branch, District 751. The main purpose of the letter was to overrule a decision by District 751 leadership and order a Jan. 3 vote on a proposed Boeing contract.

In the letter, Buffenbarger said:

I have requested the voting process be conducted in a manner that enables the fullest participation of the membership. Voting is to be free from any coercive or disruptive circumstances. A secret ballot process must be provided. No local lodge officers other than those specifically authorized by the IAM Constitution or District Lodge business representatives are to handle any ballots other than their own.

The statement is notable because Buffenbarger previously endorsed the Democrats’ Employee Free Choice Act, the main card check legislation introduced in Congress. He went so far as to say that the bill should be renamed the “Civil Rights for Employees Act.” [Emphasis added.]


Of course, the jet-setting Buffenbarger is endorsing secret-ballots for members currently working at Boeing because it’s convenient for him.

When it comes to members actually having a democratic say in his union, however, the Department of Labor recently found that Buffenbarger and his crew of fellow union bosses have not been running their own union elections democratically at all.

“Buffenbarger’s an embarrassment to the labor movement,” said Roger Walker, who works in preflight delivery on Boeing’s 787 line in Everett.

The IAM agreed to hold the elections again after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor found problems with the nominating process that effectively discouraged competition.

There’s nothing that says hypocrisy like today’s union bosses.


  • Read more about the hallucinogenically-named Employee Free Choice Act here.

“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)

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