Looking at these words from the BCTGM’s Declaration of Principles, it is as if those leaders who wrote our Constitution knew exactly what our Union has been up against for the past four years and how we have responded.
Since our last International Union Convention in 2010, the BCTGM and our members have been forced to confront one fierce, gut-wrenching challenge after another – challenges that have tested our resilience and solidarity.
During the last four years, employers across our industries, even those with whom this Union has enjoyed a longstanding and productive collective bargaining relationship, have chosen to become harsh and irresponsible adversaries. These employers have been intent on using their financial muscle to take greater control over our workplaces and amass ever-increasing riches for themselves from our members’ hard work.
But every employer that has taken on this Union has severely underestimated the strength and determination of the BCTGM and the courage and unity of our members.
In the toughest times and in the face of the greatest adversity, the BCTGM has stood strong and fought hard and smart in order to preserve and protect all that has been achieved for our members throughout our proud 128 -year history.
When Roquette America, then American Crystal Sugar and now Kellogg, for the second time, chose the deplorable path of locking out our members, each of these companies expected us to wilt, to knuckle under to their pressure and simply accept outrageous terms and conditions for settlement.
They did not appreciate the intensity of our commitment to preserving the standard of living our members and this Union have worked so long and hard to achieve.
When the Wall Street hedge fund and private equity bosses who took over the former Hostess Brands and ran it into the ground, did not understand that our members, who had built Hostess and saved it time and again, had suffered through enough management incompetence and were unwilling to take any more disrespect and indignity from this employer.
Because of all that we have been through as Union for the past four years and how hard we all battle every day to defend the quality of our contracts and the quality of life of our members – former, current and future – we have selected as the theme for this year’s 39th Constitutional Convention of the BCTGM, “Fighting Today to Protect Our Future”.
I believe that this theme truly captures what the BCTGM is all about in an era when far too many employers operate corporations devoid of any moral compass, consumed by greed and disdainful of the skilled and dedicated men and women who make their companies run.
All that the BCTGM seeks are responsible, constructive collective bargaining relationships with employers and fair contracts that allow our members to provide a good quality of life for their families and ensure dignity, justice and respect in the workplace. Our long history proves that employers that choose to work with our Union in such a manner experience success.
But when we are confronted by employers, financial institutions and political forces that threaten the interests of our members and this Union, we will never back down.
We fight today not because we want to, but because we must. This is our obligation and responsibility to those who built this Union, to those who are working today to make the BCTGM even stronger and to those who will carry on this proud tradition in the years ahead.
We fight today to protect our future. And our adversaries should know that there will always be plenty of fight in the BCTGM.
David B. Durkee
BCTGM International President