Happy International Human Rights Day!

By Jennifer Sargent and Elana Guiney of Portland. Jennifer is the Communications Director, and Elana is the Organizing Coordinator, for the Oregon AFL-CIO. Check out the Oregon AFL-CIO's union shopping guide.

It's the 57th anniversary of the signing (at the United Nations) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the right for working people to collectively bargain for better pay and family health benefits, safe workplaces and dignity on the job.

You can celebrate this right by choosing union-made products for the holidays -- and we'll show you how.

Each of us can choose to support companies that respect this right by negotiating with its employees, instead of outsourcing their manufacturing to places like India and China, where child labor and tainted products are all too common.

But sometimes it's hard to find union-made goods. We know, because we recently spent three hours in a Fred Meyer looking at labels and comparing lists, looking for union-made gifts for our Convention. Brands that were previously made in the US now have "Made in China" stickers. It's sad to see companies outsource their manufacturing, because they flood our home-grown goods – and American workers who have good jobs – right out of the market.

(Just ask any of the Oregonians who have lost a job to bad trade deals – they are 70,000 and counting.)

The good news is that safe, humanely made, affordable products are as close as the neighborhood Freddy's or any Internet connection. It takes some sifting, but it's worth the time it takes to find them.

Why do we care what you buy for the holidays? Well, of course, we want you to be happy.

Also, building up union jobs is an important mission for us personally, because we both grew up in homes where our respective parents joined with their co-workers to negotiate for better pay and benefits under a union contract.

We knew that the union was the reason why our parents had the tools they needed to help us succeed – they could afford to give us health care, dental exams, and a college education. It was nothing fancy, but we knew that some of our friends' families struggled just to get by.

For us, a union job helped our families have a chance in life. That's why, while the recent news of tainted goods and poor working conditions is an unfortunate result of off-shoring, the renewed interest in safe, humanely made goods, quite honestly, has us tickled pink.

So join us today as we take our message to the street with fliers: At 5:00 pm, we will flier at Verizon Wireless, SW Morrison and Broadway in Portland. At 5:30 pm, we will march to Pioneer Place Mall, SW Morrison and 4th.

We'll be asking shoppers to:

  1. Shop responsibly – buying union made guarantees your products were made by people who were paid a decent wage and whose rights were respected.

  2. Sign a "health care for the holidays" card and join with others in calling for affordable healthcare for all families.

  3. Remember to vote in November for a Senator and a President who will respect worker's rights by supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.

Here's a list we've compiled of union-made brands. Be sure to look for the "Made in the USA" label, since companies are quickly outsourcing parts of their product lines.

Got a favorite union-made product? Post it here!

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Oh yeah! And listen to Elana report back on the event tonight on KBOO Labor Radio between 6-7 pm.

  • Jessie (unverified)
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    This looks like a great event. We hear so much about these issues, with very few solutions ever offered. It's great to see a tangible action we can all take. Anyone working down town should stop by and help out after work today!

  • bart (unverified)
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    Hey

    Great Piece you all!

    It's nice to know someone is paying close attention to these importmant issues.

  • christy w (unverified)
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    Thank you for providing us with such a complete list. It's great to know that there are so many options to choose from for buying union-made products and services. I come from a union family as well, and it's important to me and my family to support companies that provide living-wage jobs and good benefits, in the hopes that good jobs will be available for the next generation.
    The event is a great idea, hope to see everyone there!

  • (Show?)
    (Just ask any of the Oregonians who have lost a job to bad trade deals – they are 70,000 and counting.)

    But according to UPO and such pro-trade deal posters, that is a good thing... or something.

  • Graham Trainor (unverified)
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    In our growing global economy, the task of exercising our power as consumers in a conscionable manner can be overwhelming. This guide is a great resource for everyone to leverage that power through our holiday purchases! Thank you for giving our community the tools to support the union movement. Working families need our support and this is a step towards that goal! See you at 5p.m.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    It's the 57th anniversary of the signing (at the United Nations) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the right for working people to collectively bargain for better pay and family health benefits, safe workplaces and dignity on the job.

    Bob T:

    Before they can get that job, they need to live in a society where they won't be executed for listening to a CD, attending a clandestine school, or showing more than eyes while out in public. But then, too many lefties say, "Who are we to tell them that's wrong". So much for concern over rights around the world.

    Blind worship of "multiculturalism" is stupid.

    Bob Tiernan

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Bob Tiernan | Dec 11, 2007 9:18:42 AM ... Blind worship of "multiculturalism" is stupid.

    Agreed, which is why "lefties" do not do that and is, outside the very fringe (just like the fringe "righties" being so fringe they blow up health clinics), a strawman you have slain.

  • andy (unverified)
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    I try to avoid buying anything with a union label on it. I don't see any reason to support the criminals who run Big Labor or the extortion mentality of the union members. Thankfully many of the union jobs have left the country over the past 30 years.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Bob Tiernan:

    Blind worship of "multiculturalism" is stupid.

    Lestatdelc:

    Agreed, which is why "lefties" do not do that and is, outside the very fringe (just like the fringe "righties" being so fringe they blow up health clinics), a strawman you have slain.

    Bob T:

    Nonsense. It's a lot more than a fringe that is looking the other way, and caving, over letting some western societies go down the crapper (check out the female-only times for numerous public swimming pools in Switzerland, as the Swiss refused to say go pound salt, and then there's the lack of tough response (even verbal) over the murder of Van Gogh etc, and the subsequent pulling of his film from the Cannes Film Festival. Imagine if Christian nuts did that.

    Bob T

  • (Show?)

    Bob Tiernan... LOL.. oh wait.. you are trying to be serious?

    Your rant is laughably incoherent.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    lestatdel:

    Bob Tiernan... LOL.. oh wait.. you are trying to be serious?

    Your rant is laughably incoherent.

    Bob T:

    There was nothing incoherent about it. Seems certain that I brought up subjects, or rather specific examples, that make you uncomfortable. Let's go directly to one of these: You live in a small city with public swimming pools, and few people own their own, and a very small but aggressive population of Muslim immigrants demand that some hours be set aside for "females only" swimming. What do you tell them? You'd tell Pat Robertson types to go poind salt (as you should; as should everyone), but will you tell the Muslims the same thing, or would you cave lest you be considered someone who doesn't "honor diversity"?

    WHat do you do about Muslims fathers who, even though living in places like England, Holland, or even the US, slit the throats of their daughters over boyfriend selections?

    Come on, tough guy!

    Bob Tiernan

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