Sunday, December 2, 2012

Buy union, buy American for the holidays

We don't need to explain why. The question is how? So many U.S. products are now made by low-paid workers outside of our borders.

Here's one way to buy products made by American union members: Go to the Labor 411 website. Starting tomorrow, they'll be spotlighting union-made, American-made gift ideas.

Labor 411 tells us lots of games, for example, are still made here, including Yahtzee, Candyland and Monopoly.

And here's a shock: You can actually buy union-made consumer electronics. A company called Union Built PC makes desktop computers, notebooks and tablets. Who knew?

Labor 411 also lists 86 unionized makers of apparel and accessories, from the All-American Clothing Co. to Winston Leather.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing is also promoting Christmas gifts that were made in America. They're already on Day 9, directing us to a website offering American-made greeting cards. Teamsters can support their brothers and sisters in the Graphic Communications Conference (GCC) by looking for cards they make with the "GCC" or "Allied Printing Trades" label. And you can get union-made and union-themed cards at Homestead Cards here.

AAM has other suggestions for American-made gifts: bags and totes from the Hero Bag company, flannel clothing from Vermont Flannel, woollen blankets from Faribault Mill and vintage notebooks from Field Notes (we like the County Fair series).

The AAM's manufacture this blog also features products unique to American cities, such as Louisville Sluggers,  Made in Newark backpacks and Chelsea (Mass.) clocks.

Go to American Made Matters and you can buy ornaments, hats and T-shirts that say (wait for it) "American Made Matters." You'll also find a long list of companies that make or market products in America. OhSayUSA, for example, features vintage toys like the Slinky, the Duncan Yo-Yo and Sam the Rubber Duck. Wigwam makes socks for sport, work and diabetics. Stormy Kromer makes hats and warm clothing -- and has been since 1903 when George "Stormy" Kromer designed his own while working as an engineer on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad.

We'll keep suggesting ways to buy union and buy American over the next few weeks. But here's a website to tide you over: a complete guide to American-made toys (you'd be surprised) at