At the IUF 27th World Congress in Geneva, Switzerland, the BCTGM delegation was among 518 delegates representing 216 labor organizations from 90 countries around the world.
BCTGM International President David Durkee spoke on behalf of Resolution #8, “Strengthening the IUF Divisions and Company-Wide Union Networks,” specifically advocating the proposed “IUF Food Processing Division.”
In his remarks, Durkee reminded the Congress that in the past, every IUF affiliate union has been forced to go up against multimillion dollar transnational corporations. Then he told delegates that times have changed.
“But that is no longer true… now every Union in this room, and every individual in this room, is used to dealing with, fighting against, and ultimately, winning or losing battles against multibillion dollar, transnational corporations with endless resources to defeat the labor movement,” Durkee proclaimed.
Durkee detailed the BCTGM’s 2013-2014 fight with the Kellogg Company, a $16 billion transnational corporation. “After two years we were victorious, achieving the best contract in our bargaining history with Kellogg. We not only achieved the best financial package for our members, but also secured growth for Kellogg’s ready-to-eat-cereal plants, with increased production and increased union membership,” recalled Durkee.
Moving from the successful end to the Kellogg campaign, the BCTGM headed into a fight with another transnational corporation, Mondelēz International.
Durkee explained the BCTGM’s campaign against Mondelēz International is two-fold. First, the BCTGM’s battle against the export of jobs to other countries where Mondelēz exploits workers. He explained that workers in Mexico, where Mondelēz is outsourcing American jobs, are being paid a reported $1.00 to $1.46 per hour.
Second, the BCTGM’s fight for a Master contract for American workers. He noted the February 2015 expiration of the union contract covering BCTGM workers in the U.S. and Mondelēz’s top contract proposal to take away the workers’ pension, while the CEO maintained a $35 million pension.
Durkee detailed the BCTGM’s 20-month campaign against Mondelēz International and the U.S. boycott of all Mondelēz/Nabisco products made in Mexico.
“With the assistance and solidarity of the IUF, our campaign has transformed into a global campaign. We are winning this fight and ultimately we will be victorious because of the solidarity of IUF affiliates around the world and the 56 affiliates of the AFL-CIO in the United States,” proclaimed Durkee.
The IUF Congress will also focus on issues of importance surrounding affiliate relationships with multinationals such as Groupe Danone, Nestle, Cargill, Pepsico, and Coca-Cola amongst others. In breakout meetings, the BCTGM delegates discussed the Union’s recent successful organizing drive at Cargill Cocoa and delegates from other affiliates shared organizing experiences with the agricultural giant.
IUF delegates also shared information about corporate merger and acquisition activity, especially in the food processing sector. Some of that discussion focused on Groupe Danone’s recent acquisition of Whitewave, and how affiliate IUF Unions are dealing with the newly merged company.
The proceedings of the Congress included addresses by delegates from Sweden, the Philippines, Norway, Haiti, the UK, Pakistan, Japan, Russia, Guyana, Nepal, the Maldives and other countries. They addressed a number of issues, including the long-running struggle at Citra Mina in the Philippines, FLOC’s struggle to organize tobacco workers in the U.S., Coca-Cola in Pakistan, Nestlè workers in Russia, fights in defense of workers’ rights at Fyffes and more.
The Final 2017 IUF Congress Credentials Committee report stated the following:
- There were an additional 77 unions not present at the 2017 World Congress but represented by proxy, bringing the number of Union’s represented to 293.
- The 2017 Congress represents 1,893,037 dues paying members out of 2,401,704 dues paying members or 75%.
- Of the 518 delegates present at the Congress, there were 305 men (59%) and 213 women (42%).