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History and Purpose of the Union

The Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union of America, one of the pioneers of the North American labor movement, was organized in 1886. In 1957, the American Bakery and Confectionery Workers’ International Union was formed. In 1969, the two organizations united.

The Tobacco Workers International Union was founded in 1895 and was also in the forefront of the labor movement. As it and the Bakery and Confectionery Workers’ International Union of America shared many common goals, both organizations came to realize that those goals could best be achieved through a merger. That merger, creating the BC&T, took place in 1978.

The American Federation of Grain Millers also has roots stemming back to the 1800s. In 1936, the National Council of Grain Processors was formed when federal grain milling unions agreed to unite as a national union under the AFL. In 1941, the council was renamed the American Federation of Grain Processors and in 1948 was granted an international charter as the AFGM.

Shared goals and industries caused the January 1, 1999, merger between the BC&T and AFGM, resulting in the BCTGM.

The statement of purpose, as defined by the 1999 BCTGM International Constitution, Article I, Section 2, is:

"The purpose of the International Union shall be to promote the material, intellectual and general welfare of all workers in the baking, confectionery, tobacco, grain milling and kindred industries by (1) organizational action; (2) education and enlightenment; (3) continuous striving to improve wage standards, retirement and similar benefits, and other conditions of employment; to reduce the hours of labor and to abolish such economic evils as may prevail or persist in these industries; (4) assistance in securing and retaining employment; (5) well-planned and effectively executed activity in the branches and agencies of government, including activity related to proposed state or federal legislation affecting these workers and the labor movement; (6) alliance with other labor organizations within the AFL-CIO or CLC in matters of common concern."

If you want to know more about your union’s roots, there are two excellent volumes, written by historian Stuart B. Kaufman (University of Maryland) which deal with these achievements in greater detail:

  • A Vision of Unity—History of the Bakery & Confectionery Workers International Union
  • Challenge and Change—History of the Tobacco Workers International Union

They make excellent reading for union officers and members, and would make ideal additions to college, high school and community libraries.

For information on how you can obtain copies, contact BCTGM International Union, 10401 Connecticut Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895.

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