December 5, 2008 Volume 109 Number 23

Buy union this holiday season — and keep it local

The economy may be holding its breath, but that won’t stop most Labor Press readers from doing at least some gift shopping this year. And buying union-made and union-delivered is a way for working people to stick together. To help readers who want to do that, the Labor Press has come up with 10 gift ideas for goods and services made or sold by local union workers.

  • CONCERT TICKETS. Tickets to the Oregon Symphony make a classy gift — and they keep members of American Federation of Musicians Local 99 employed. The Portland Opera and Oregon Ballet Theatre also employ AFM members, but OBT now uses recorded music for over half its shows, such as the Nutcracker Suite. Ask before you buy.
  • HUNTING GEAR. For the hunter or fisher in the family, what about a knife made by Gerber Legendary Blades? Based in Southwest Portland, Gerber employs members of Machinists District Lodge 24, Legendary Local 2911.
  • CELL PHONE SERVICE. As any kid will tell you, if you give them a cell phone for Christmas, they’ll love you forever. But be sure to go with unionized AT&T, not any of the other carriers, which are nonunion (and rather anti- union). In Oregon, when you visit a company-owned AT&T store, you’re talking with a member of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7901.
  • BOOKS. Books make great gifts, and you can buy them, or a gift card, at Powell’s Books, the only unionized book seller in the area. Workers there are represented by International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 5.
  • CHEAP WHEELS. Got a teenager? Give the gift of mobility. A one-month TriMet Youth pass costs $26, and might cut down on the need for chauffeuring. And TriMet employs members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 757.
  • BOOTS. For serious boot-lovers, Danner hiking, fishing and hunting boots are the real deal, and some of them are made in Portland by members of UFCW Local 555. Check the label to see if it’s U.S.-made. And get them at Danner’s Portland outlet store, 12722 NE Airport Way, or at Al’s Shoe’s and Boots — a long-time supporter of the Labor Press — at 5811 NE 82nd Ave.
  • CANDY. Fill up your stockings with union-made candy. See’s “Famous Old Time Candies” is hand-packaged by members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. Russell Stover Candies, Jelly Belly jelly beans, Hershey’s Kisses, Fifth Avenue, Zagnut, York Peppermint Patties, Nestles Crunch, Kit Kat bars, Baby Ruth, Butterfingers and Thin Mints are all made by members of the Bakers Union. And you can buy most of them at unionized grocers — Safeway, Albertsons and Fred Meyer, where workers belong to United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555.
  • BLANKETS. When you turn down the thermostat this winter to save money, you’ll want to keep warm under a Pendleton Woolen Mills blanket, made by members of UNITE HERE locals 118 and 1108 at mills in Pendleton, Oregon, and Washougal, Washington. They’re available at Pendleton outlet stores and at retailers like Made In Oregon.
  • GETAWAYS. Out of town getaways make great gifts, and Amtrak (and most airlines) are union. And if downtown Portland is the destination, consider a stay at posh — and UNITE HERE Local 9 represented — Paramount, Benson or Hilton.
  • CARDS, TOYS, HOUSEWARES, ELECTRONICS. Buy them at unionized stores. Fred Meyer is the only unionized general merchandise retailer in Oregon. In Salem and Eugene and the Portland area (except in Vancouver), Fred Meyer workers in non-food departments belong to the same union as the grocery workers — UFCW Local 555.

Last, but not least: If you’re going to mail a card or gift, send it U.S. Postal Service or UPS, where the workers are union, not FedEx, an anti-union company that has been in court around the country for designating its drivers as independent contractors.

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