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Season 5, Episode 107

Talking Harley-Davidson and Boeing with former International President

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Guest Name:


Tom Buffenbarger

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Tom Buffenbarger, an independent labor voice and former International President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss his history with Harley-Davidson, ongoing investigations into potential Boeing design hazards and more attacks on railroad safety.

Buffenbarger recapped one of his previous conversations on the show to start today's conversation. With the recent news of two United Steelworkers Locals ratifying new contracts with Harley-Davidson, he discussed how the Machinists and the Steelworkers worked together to assist Harley-Davidson’s ownership when they bought the company from AMF in the 1980s. Buffenbarger shared how their assistance wasn’t just to save the company – it was about providing opportunities for community members and workers to become members of the trades. 

Buffenbarger then discussed the ongoing investigations of the Boeing 737 and 787 planes. He discussed the concerns that employees have raised for years about the planes' unsafe design features. He used the example of a recent story about Boeing using a unique, unsafe solution to a lubrication problem with the doors of the 737 MAX plane. Until the workers are included in the conversations being held by Boeing’s Board of Directors, Buffenbarger believes there won’t be improvements to the safety of the planes being built by the company.

Finally, Buffenbarger discussed the efforts by the owners of several rail companies to water down the Railroad Safety Act that is in Congress. Following several high-profile derailments in the past 16 months, there has been a renewed effort to improve safety on the rails. Buffenbarger said there have been too many lobbying efforts against the proposed safety acts. Until rail companies can be convinced of the need or legislation is passed that would make impactful improvements to safety, it will be a long battle for unions to get something done.

To hear more from Buffenbarger, listen to the show above.


America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: AFL-CIO, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, American Alliance for Manufacturing, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 50, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Ironworkers Great Lakes District Council, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of The National Labor Office of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.

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