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Graphic Communications International Union To Merge With Teamsters

Press release from the issuing company

December 9, 2004 -- The 70,000 U.S. and Canadian members of the Graphic Communications International Union (GCIU) voted in November and December to merge with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. GCIU officials declined to release the results of the merger vote, but Newsday.com is reporting that about 52 percent of the 35,500 ballots were cast in favor of the merger. Newsday’s source comes from an opposition group within the GCIU called “The Committee to SAVE GCIU.” See www.savinggciu.com. The GCIU, which is the last union in the United States and Canada dedicated to the printing and publishing industry, had to merge with a larger union because of declining membership. According the GCIU president George Tedeschi, not merging “would not be responsible.” Tedeschi cited in March of 2003 that the main loss of membership was plant closings. The Teamsters have 1.4 million members and this makes the third union to approve a merger with the Teamsters this year. The effective date for the GCIU/Teamster merger is January 1, 2005. The GCIU will be folded into a new “conference” within the Teamsters and will maintain its identity, autonomy, and authority over its union contracts with employers. The merger gives the GCIU more resources for union organizing, training, contract negotiations, and other contract administrative tasks (e.g., arbitrations) in terms of money, expertise and man-power resources. GCIU Pres. George Tedeschi said he was “extremely gratified that a majority of our active members showed the wisdom and foresight to approve merger with our good AFL-CIO sister union. We know that by becoming an IBT conference, the GCIU will have a powerful new alliance for organizing and negotiating decent wages and benefits for our members.” Tedeschi added that the GCIU’s “successful merger will provide new power and resources to ensure that Quebecor World–as well as other workers–win the right to organize a union free from harassment, intimidation, and coercion. With the tremendous resources of the Teamsters, we are confident that we can win justice for all workers in the printing and paper products industries.” Duane Byers, Chair of PIA/GATF’s union employers committee (Graphic Arts Employers – GAE), says “While this is an obvious boost for the GCIU and its members, we believe that the positive relationships between employers and union leaders at the local level will not be drastically affected in the short-term.” Byers is also the Director of HR for Banta Publishing Group in Long Prairie, Minnesota. Steve Esser, Chair of PIA/GATF Labor Policy Committee, also notes that he has had “a positive relationship on a local level with the GCIU and expect that to continue after the merger takes place. Plus, one of the goals for the GCIU in a merger agreement was to expand the efforts of union organizing. Therefore, employers in the printing industry can expect to see an increase in union organizing for 2005 by the GCIU/Teamsters.” Esser is also president of Kutztown Publishing in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. Teamsters General Pres. Jim Hoffa observed: “This is an historic moment for the GCIU and the Teamsters. Graphic communications workers exemplify quality work and the belief that workers deserve fair treatment in the workplace-fundamental traits of the labor movement and principles that guide the Teamsters union. This merger will strengthen both unions and allow us to better provide workers with real power on the job and in the political arena.” According to the merger agreement, Tedeschi and other officers will continue to serve GCIU members in their current offices. The GCIU will become an autonomous conference within the Teamsters union, allowing the GCIU and its locals to maintain their autonomy and identity--including authority over their contracts. The GCIU is the third union to join with the Teamsters union in 2004. The GCIU, Tedeschi added, “is clearly looking forward to breathing new life into our union with our new, powerful partner–the largest of the AFL-CIO affiliates with 1.4 million members.”

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