Monday, August 30, 2010

No, This Isn't a Man Bites Dog Story

This may be news to some people, but not to us: Every day, unionized companies in the United States are thriving and innovating.

Every Labor Day, American Rights at Work puts together a list of companies that work well with their unions. This year's list features eight companies that pioneer solutions to environmental challenges.

They're actually doing pretty interesting stuff.

Late in the '90s, for example, Gerding/Edlen redeveloped an old industrial section of Portland, Ore. The green builder saved a 100-year-old brewery, used union labor and incorporated a lot of sustainable design -- recycled materials, natural lighting, photovoltaic panels and high efficiency envelopes and mechanical systems. Now they're working on projects that produce zero net carbon emissions (and union jobs).

Here's an employer a union member can love: Butch Johnson. He bought the bankrupt Flambeau River Papers mill in Park Falls, Wis., and rehired nearly all of the mill's 300 workers, honoring their union contract. Flambeau produces premium recycled paper and is building a biofuels plant to power the mill.

Or how about the company that grows the best tasting tomato (according to the American Culinary Institute)? Eurofresh grows tomatoes and cucumbers at a giant greenhouse complex in Arizona. It pays workers 65 percent more than non-union agricultural workers, along with health benefits that have no premium costs. The greenhouses are safer than open fields and the vegetables meet high standards of food safety.

United Streetcar is bring unionized streetcar manufacturing jobs back to the United States. Last year the company made the first U.S.-produced streetcar in 60 years for Portland, Ore. They honor union contracts and mostly use components made in the U.S.

Read more here.