As BCTGM members and their families prepare to celebrate the holidays and welcome a New Year, we can look back at 2017 as a source of pride and optimism for our Union. While the BCTGM and our members certainly continue to confront serious and difficult challenges, we head into 2018 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.
The International Union’s fight to stop the outsourcing of American jobs by Nabisco/Mondelēz continued to take center stage throughout 2017.
And yet in the background, International staff, together with local unions and rank-and-file members, worked tirelessly, committed to the basic founding principle of this Union: to organize non-union workers and negotiate quality collective bargaining agreements.
In 2017, the International Union accelerated organizing training for International staff and local union officers, stewards and activists. Part of this effort included implementing special organizing training for local union shop stewards. Dozens of organizing trainings were held across the United States and Canada and organizing leads abound.
Thanks to the success of the initiative, we will continue to expand and enhance the BCTGM’s steward organizing program in the New Year.
Working closely with the International Director of Organization John Price and other International staff, local unions have made a bold statement on organizing; devoting the energy and resources necessary to engage in quality campaigns.
As an example, after learning of the many confectionery workers represented by the BCTGM and the Union’s excellent reputation, workers at the Cargill plant in Hazelton, Pa. reached out to the BCTGM and asked to meet with Local 6 (Philadelphia) representatives. The more than 100 workers at the Cargill Cocoa plant produce high quality chocolate, coatings, fillings, cocoa powders, cocoa liquors and cocoa butters used in food manufacturing, bakery, confectionery, beverage and dairy applications. Local 6 successfully organized the workers whose key issues were workplace safety, favoritism and unfair workplace rules.
The success of Local 6 rank-and-file organizers and officers is an extraordinary testament to the excellent reputation the BCTGM has earned among workers. Local 6 represents workers at the nearby Bimbo Bakeries USA plants in Hazelton and Lehigh Valley.
In Memphis, Local 149 organizers overcame numerous hurdles at the large Riviana Foods facility and won the NLRB election to represent quality control workers at the production plant.
BCTGM Local 57 proved the depth and duration of our commitment to organizing when it won recognition at Mennel Milling in Martel, Ohio. The plant is a former Local 57-represented Pillsbury facility that was closed in 2016. Mennel Milling acquired the plant and agreed to rehire more than 50 percent of the experienced Local 57 members – who insisted the company recognize the Union.
And just this month, Local 203T in Richmond, Va. reached recognition agreements with Philip Morris for workers who make John Middleton and UST smokeless tobacco brands in Richmond. John Middleton and UST was previously acquired by Philip Morris.
I have the deepest respect for all of the courageous workers who overcome employer harassment, coercion and intimidation to vote for a better life through BCTGM representation. I further commend each and every local union officer and rank-and-file member who helped organize new workers in 2017.
The International Union will continue to assist and support local union organizing campaigns as we advance our programs to reflect the hard work and dedication we’ve seen in 2017. I am confident we will continue to build the strength of the BCTGM as we rebuild union density within our industries.
On behalf of the International Union officers and staff, I want to offer our best wishes to the entire BCTGM family for a joyous holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year!
— David B. Durkee, BCTGM International President