The Union Label and Service Trades Department, AFL-CIO held it 71st Constitutional Convention on June 11, 2022, at the Philadelphia Convention Center. The Department welcomed Jon Schluess, President of The NewsGuild-CWA (TNG) and David Woods, Secretary-Treasurer of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco, and Grain Millers (BCTGM) as featured speakers.
Schluess is a former data reporter for the Los Angeles Times and was instrumental in bringing a union to the notoriously anti-union newspaper.
During his remarks, Schluess told attendees about the wide range of success the TNG has had in organizing newsrooms and new media over the last several years. Organizing 7,000 new members at 145 locations, the NewsGuild has managed to break into southern states and big pro-union cities.
Schluess credits their success to the union’s building of a member-led movement that had the capacity to grow quickly. Rank-and-file members, many of them fresh off their own organizing campaigns, answer emails and calls from workers at non-union shops, train new organizing committees, track assessments of support, win certification elections, and prepare workers for brutal first-contract campaigns. The union has paid staff and volunteers working together to accomplish its goals. Schluess says the union has recruited and trained about 85 member organizers to work beside union staff.
Speaking next,Woods, who was elected in April 2020 by the General Executive Board of the BCTGM to serve as BCTGM International Secretary-Treasurer, told Convention attendees how his union has built strength and unity on the picket lines. From the well-publicized Frito Lay strike to the lesser-known Rich Products strike in March 2022, BCTGM has won new contracts with historic improvements at companies large and small.
Woods discussed the solidarity shown by other unions to support their efforts and talked about how the BCTGM has joined their brother and sister unions that are striking in their efforts for fair contracts.
In addition, Woods explained how Kellogg tried to remove the union label from its packaging during negotiations and why the union fought vigorously to keep that from happening. He urged attendees to push to include adding the union label to the products their members make, a resolution calling for just that passed by delegates on the Convention floor just moments before.
Convention delegates quickly passed several resolutions ranging from encouraging the use of the union label database and buy union consumerism to inclusion of union label identification language in contracts and supporting the United States Postal Service.
In his remarks to the delegates, Union Label and Service Trades Department President Rich Kline announced the return of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) as an affiliate to the Department boasting the more than 1.3-million-member union will support the mission of Department in 2022 and beyond.
“Their affiliation renews a longstanding relationship, and we are honored to have them back in the Department,” said Kline. “Their affiliation brings a slew of products and services–from grocery & department store employees, to pet food makers, distillery, and chemical workers–back into the Union Label fold. It also brings with it the commitment to its membership and the Labor Movement at large that has inspired so many of us with its militancy. We’re happy to have them back with us and to have their 1.3 million members back under the ULSTD umbrella. Welcome to the UFCW.”
Rounding out the day, Delegates unanimously reelected President Kline and the slate of officers put forth as the Executive Board for the Department.
The current board is:
– Richard Kline, President
– Debby Szeredy, Secretary-Treasurer (Executive Vice President, American Postal Workers Union)
– James B. Wood, Vice President (General Secretary-Treasurer IATSE)
– Kenneth W. Cooper, Vice President (International Secretary-Treasurer IBEW)
– Patrick Kellett, Vice President (General Secretary-Treasurer UA)
– Amy Wiser, Vice President (Communications Director IBB)
– David Woods, Vice President (International Secretary-Treasurer BCTGM)
– Dora Cervantes, Vice President (General Secretary-Treasurer IAMAW)
– Dan Duncan, Vice President (Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maritime Trades Department, SIU)
– Kenneth “Bill” Dean, Vice President (General Treasurer Ironworkers Union)
– Nicole Rhine, Vice President (Secretary-Treasurer NALC)
– Joseph Powell, Vice President (General Secretary-Treasurer SMART)
– Frank Lima, Vice President (International Secretary-Treasurer IAFF)
– Fredrick C. Ingram, Vice President (Secretary-Treasurer AFT)