One of the nation’s oldest unions approved a merger with the much-larger United Steelworkers (USW) at its quadrennial convention yesterday.
The Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers International Union (GMPIU) represents about 25,000 workers in the United States and Canada. The USW represents about 850,000 workers.
“The GMP is itself the product of many mergers, and each one made the GMP stronger and better,” said GMPIU International President Bruce R. Smith in a statement. “We expect history to repeat itself with the USW merger.”
The GMPIU, headquartered in Media, Pa., near Philadelphia, represents craft and industrial workers primarily in glass, foundries, molding, plastics and pottery as well as ceramics, china, fiberglass and insulation, and other industries. The union dates back to 1842, when a group of Philadelphia glassblowers organized. Though its numbers have dwindled in recent years, it still has 250 locals in the United States and Canada.
In a letter to members in an issue of the GMPIU’s Horizons magazine last year, union leadership stated that without a merger, diminishing membership numbers “would require an immediate and dramatic dues increase,” and even then, “any downturn in our major industries our another recession could easily devastate” the union.
The Pittsburgh-based USW represents workers in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.
“The GMP shares our goals and will be a vital part of the USW,” stated USW International President Leo W. Gerard.