• Today in Labor History
    Sept. 8, 1997
    Some 2,600 Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers begin what is to be a successful six-day strike for higher pay and against a two-tier wage system. ~ DC Labor

  • About 888

    The Baltimore Mailers Union (BMU) was established in 1936 as an affiliation of the International Mailers Union (IMU). At the time, unions  at The Baltimore Sun and Baltimore News-American held joint contracts with the newspapers.

    Like many craft unions in the 1970s, the IMU sought a merger partner in the pressmens' union, the Printing and Graphic Communications Union (later the GCIU), but talks between the two failed. The IMU opted to become part of the International Typographical Union (ITU). As newspaper technology became more advanced and craft-union jobs were nbeing eliminated, the ITU sought a larger labor partner that welcomed industry diversity.

    As troubled relations between the IMU and ITU intensified and the IMU had undertaken talks with The Newspaper Guild, the ITU signed a merger agreement with the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

    The independent Baltimore Mailers Union itself was seeking an affiliatation with a larger union that could provide  educational, financial and legal resources and support to ensure the continuation of its excellent representation and protection of BMU members.

    In 1987, BMU members voted to join the Teamsters Newspaper Magazine & Electronic Media Workers Division.

    A Brief History of American Mailers Unions

    Typographical workers from 14 U.S. cities gathered in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1852 and organized the National Typographical Union. In 1869, with the addition of Canadian members, the union changed its name to the International Typographical Union (ITU). By 1892, the Union boasted 300 locals.

    Technological advances in the late 19th-century and advancing computer technologies of the 20th century demanded new skills and changed workers jobs, serving to fragmentize the union. Thousands of pressmen split off to form their own union, and the ITU authorized membership for mailers and newspaper writers, chartered a New York City photoengravers union and went on to organize photoengravers nationwide. However, eventually the photoengravers also broke off to establish their own union, ending a period of dual organizations (newspaper engravers and trade shop engravers) and jurisdictional chaos.

    The ITU, comprised of workers involved with many different aspects of the printing trade, from pressmen to typographers to mailers to writers - wielded a great amount of influence among newspaper companies. With newspapers in nearly every major urban city in North America, the printers union had the power to shut down a plant during a contract dispute, cutting off the paper's mouthpiece.

    For 75 years the various segments of the industry maintained their autonomy from each other. This philosophy was successful until the 1960’s. The industry had grown substantially, corporate mergers took place and technology continued to advance. As pre-press technologies evolved and improved, composing room work all but disappeared, with mailroom work expanding with the advent of new insertion machines. By the late 1980s, mailers outnumbered printers.

    As the ITU's power declined, merger discussions between newspaper unions commenced. In 1987 the ITU ceased to exist and its printers became part of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). By then most of the mailers had joined the Graphic Communications International Union (GCIU), chartered in July 1983.

    The Baltimore Mailers Union remained independent until 1987 when its members voted to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. As a stand-alone local, the BMU has retained its autonomy as a mailers union.

    In 2004, the GCIU joined forces in a merger with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and became the Graphic Communications Conference (GCC) of the IBT.

    Today, the GCC/IBT – and independent locals like the Baltimore Mailers Union of the Newspaper Magazine & Electronic Media Workers Division – represent more than 60,000 workers in all craft and skill areas in the printing and publishing industry. Every day, the members help design, print, produce and mail numerous publications, including The Baltimore Sun, The New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Newsday, The Boston Globe; Elle and Cosmopolitan magazines; Harper Collins and Penguin books; brochures for Chevrolet; Harry Potter books and catalogues for L.L. Bean.

    Page Last Updated: Mar 04, 2015 (15:30:44)
  • Teamsters Local 888

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