GCC/Teamsters — New Look, Old Challenges
IT’S SAFE to say that George Tedeschi won’t be winning any popularity contests within the commercial printing industry. Among the rank and file of unionized companies, Tedeschi is the prince of printing. In management circles, “prince” is substituted for less than endearing terms.
If the name doesn’t ring a bell, a brief introduction is in order. Tedeschi is president of the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (GCC/Teamsters). The organization, formerly the Graphic Communications International Union (GCIU), merged with the Teamsters on January 1, 2005.
It has been an eventful two years since the merger. With consolidations and plant closings taking its toll on the unionized printing employee population, the infusion of Teamster blood has helped to prop flagging membership totals (the GCC/Teamsters represents about 60,000 printing employees). It also has support in the form of the newspaper print media division, which counts 15,000 Teamsters.
In the process of increasing ranks and protecting the interests of current members, GCC/Teamsters has waged public battles with heavyweight companies like Quebecor World and Cenveo (1,500 union members), and recently triumphed on the organizing question at Lehigh Press in Pennsauken, NJ.
And at a time when union membership in general could use an infusion of new blood, it might get just that in the form of legislature that would make organizing easier. The Employee Free Choice Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 241-185 count, and a similar measure was anticipated in the Senate.
The companies that are most apt to seek union representation, it stands to reason, are those employee groups who are disenchanted with their higher ups. But since unionization is the only legal mode for workers to bargain collectively with their employer, Tedeschi feels it is imperative for employees to have a voice in the workplace to tackle some of the leading labor issues of the day, namely healthcare and pensions.