As BCTGM members and their families welcome a New Year, we can look back at 2014 as a source of great pride and optimism for our Union. While the BCTGM and our members certainly faced serious and difficult challenges on many fronts, we are heading into the New Year as a stronger, battle-tested Union, fully prepared to take whatever action is necessary to improve the lives of our members and bring the benefits of BCTGM membership to more workers in our industries.
Central to our Union’s future success is vigorous and aggressive action to organize non-union workers within our industries — and 2014 was one of the strongest years for BCTGM organizing in recent memory.
We have seen a genuine commitment to organize new members by a growing number of local unions. Working closely with International Union officers, the Director of Organization and other International staff, these locals devoted the energy and resources necessary to engage in quality campaigns.
In Chicago, Indianapolis and Columbus, Ga., the BCTGM made good on this Union’s commitment to organize reopened Hostess bakeries by going toe-to-toe with two of the most powerful private equity companies on Wall Street and coming away with three solid organizing victories this spring.
In Topeka, Kan. and Elkhart, Ind., the BCTGM completed the process of organizing each of Bimbo Baking’s state-of-the art, high performance bakeries in the U.S, demonstrating once again that this Union speaks to the needs and aspirations of workers in our industries, regardless of the type of workplace or its location. These two impressive victories came on the heels of our previous groundbreaking organizing victories at Bimbo’s high-performance workplaces in Rockwall, Tex. (2012) and Lehigh Valley, Pa. (2013).
In Richmond, Va., the BCTGM proved the depth and duration of our commitment to unorganized workers when we organized a major SuperValu distribution center eight years after a hard fought, very close, but unsuccessful campaign. Workers in that facility never gave up and neither did the BCTGM.
In Paris, Tex., the BCTGM organized a former BCTGM-represented bakery that had closed and was reopened by J. Skinner Bakeries. Ninety-three percent of the workers voted BCTGM – extraordinary testament to the excellent reputation the BCTGM earned over many years among workers in that plant and within that community.
In Chicago, the BCTGM overcame harsh, anti-union tactics by Lifeway Foods and won an extremely difficult campaign in the dairy products industry – an industry very important to the future growth of this Union.
Victories at Penford Foods in Washington State, Safeway bakers in California, Gourmet Bakers in British Columbia, and Bimbo distribution in Massachusetts added to the string of 2014 BCTGM organizing successes.
BCTGM locals in “right-to-work for less” states made real strides in signing up non-union workers in BCTGM-represented shops. Internal organizing remains a vital component of the BCTGM’s overall organizing strategy as it improves the Union’s bargaining strength in those shops and in our industries.
To enhance our organizing efforts, the International Union accelerated and upgraded organizing training for International staff and local union officers, stewards and activists. This initiative paid great dividends in 2014 campaigns and will be expanded in the coming years.
As a former principal officer of my local union, Local 280 (Evansville, Ind.), and International Director of Organization, I have a great appreciation for those local union leaders who step up and take on the difficult, but absolutely necessary, responsibility of organizing. And, I have the deepest respect for all of the courageous workers who overcome employer harassment, coercion and intimidation and vote for a better life through BCTGM representation.
The BCTGM is on an organizing roll and we are not stopping! I have great confidence that the future for our Union, our members and our families is very bright.
On behalf of the International Union officers and staff, I hope our entire BCTGM family enjoyed a joyous holiday season and wish everyone a healthy and prosperous New Year!