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HISTORY OF THE UNION

The BCTGM Local 167G Union is a modern union with old-fashioned values. We are dedicated to giving workers in our industries a voice and a vote in their workplace. We believe that all workers should be treated with Dignity, Justice and Respect on the job.

 

The Local 167G represents working men and women at some of the best known companies throughout the midwest. We represent manufacturing, production workers, and maintenance workers in the bakery, confectionery, tobacco and grain milling industries in North America.

 

The primary goal of the BCTGM has not changed in more than 125 years: To bring economic justice in the workplace to all workers in our jurisdiction and social justice to workers throughout North America.

 

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.

 

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WHAT IS A UNION?

A union is a group of workers who form an organization to gain:

 

• Respect on the job

• Better wages and benefits

• More flexibility for work and family needs

• A counter-balance to the unchecked power of employers

• A voice in improving the quality of their products and services.

 

How do people form a union?

 

When workers decide they want to come together to improve their jobs, they work with a union to help them form their own local chapter. Once a majority of workers show that they want a union, sometimes employers honor the workers’ choice. Often, the workers must ask the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold an election. If the workers win the election to be represented by the union, they negotiate a contract with the employer that spells out each party’s rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

 

Does the law protect workers joining unions?

 

It’s supposed to—but too often it doesn’t. Under federal law, employers are not permitted to discriminate against or fire workers for choosing to join a union. For example, it’s illegal for employers to threaten to shut down their businesses or to fire employees or take away benefits if workers form a union. However, employers routinely violate these laws, and the penalties are weak or nonexistent.

 

What kinds of workers are forming unions today?

 

A wider range of people than ever before, including many women and immigrants, are joining unions—doctors and nurses, poultry workers and graduate employees, home health care aides and wireless communications workers, auto parts workers and engineers, and more.

 

How do unions help working families today?

 

Through unions, workers win better wages, benefits and a voice on the job—and good union jobs mean stronger communities. Union workers earn 25 percent more pay than nonunion workers and are more likely to receive health care and pension benefits than those without a union. In 2001, median weekly earnings for full-time union wage and salary workers were $718, compared with $575 for their nonunion counterparts. Unions lead the fight today for better lives for working people, such as through expanded family and medical leave, improved safety and health protections, and fair-trade agreements that lift the standard of living for workers all over the world.

 

What have unions accomplished for all workers?

 

Unions have made life better for all working Americans by helping to pass laws ending child labor, establishing the eight-hour day, protecting workers’ safety and health and helping create Social Security, unemployment insurance and the minimum wage, for example. Unions are continuing the fight today to improve life for all working families in America.

 

What challenges do workers face today when they want to form unions?

 

Today, thousands of workers want to join unions. The wisest employers understand that when workers form unions, their companies also benefit. However, most employers fight workers’ efforts to come together by intimidating, harassing and threatening them. In response, workers are reaching out to their communities for help exercising their freedom to improve their lives.