May 29, 2020
Driving two 26-foot trucks packed with food, members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 6 set out on the road to bring urgently needed food relief to union families in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They started their journey in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on May 26, loading up the trucks with thousands of pounds of union-made rolls, breads, cereals and snacks.
Their journey lasted three days as they stopped along the way in Muncy, Norristown and Philadelphia. At every destination, they dropped off food for labor councils to distribute to union families in need. They stopped in Mays Landing, New Jersey, to reload their trucks—and added three additional truck to the caravan—before reaching their final stop in Atlantic City for the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s event on May 28, Operation Feed Atlantic City.
“It’s been a wild ride,” said Hank McKay, the president of Local 6, who was driving one of the trucks. “When I woke up this morning, my back was hurting. But it’s all worth it,” he said with a laugh in his voice. McKay drove 500 miles for the first day of their trip.
And BCTGM has been sharing their progress every step of the way, using #OnTheRoadWithHank to keep their members updated on social media and the union’s blog. McKay and the rest of the BCTGM team, including Local 6 Financial Secretary-Treasurer Edgar Rodriguez, Business Agent Danny Melendez and member Wilfredo Rodriguez, loaded up and distributed nearly 30,000 pounds of union-made food, including bread, rolls, cereals and snacks.
Melendez and Edgar Rodriguez drove the trucks as McKay followed the caravan. All of the products were donated by Kellogg’s and Bimbo Bakeries USA. Both of these companies have been excellent employers of BCTGM members, providing hazard pay, bonuses, increased safety measures, masks, temperature checks and increased sick time since the pandemic started.
President Pat Eiding (HFIU) of the Philadelphia Council of the AFL-CIO thanked them for helping feed Philadelphia’s union families: “The BCTGM always comes through. This is a really tough time for this city’s union workers. Thank you, BCTGM International President Anthony Shelton. These union products will help put bread on the tables of working families and for that we thank you all.”
And what motivated McKay and members of Local 6 to take on this difficult task? “It was just the right thing to do,” McKay said. “This is the least we can do for our union brothers and sisters, and I’m very humbled to be in this position to help out union families.”
BCTGM will be conducting similar food relief caravans in the days ahead, and the AFL-CIO joins in thanking the members of Local 6 for their extraordinary support of union families.