Union label: The ultimate hard-to-find gift


Advertisement in the Oregon Labor Press, 1935

Remember Charles Dickens and the ghost of Christmas future? One hundred sixty-nine years after A Christmas Carol was published, today’s Tiny Tims will have a grim future indeed if they wait for a change of heart from today’s Ebenezer Scrooges. We need the Bob Cratchetts of the world to unionize and win back health care, paid time off and a living wage. In that spirit, we propose the following early New Year’s Resolution — Buy nothing from sweatshops, and look for the union label. Of course the union label can be hard to find these days. So we’ve done the looking and come up with 10 gift ideas for goods and services brought to you by local union members.

1) Blankets. The gift of warmth starts with wool. Beautiful Pendleton Woolen Mills blankets, like the queen-size mineral-umber Yakima camp blanket, $124, are quality-made by members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) at mills in Pendleton, Oregon, and Washougal, Washington. And they last a lifetime. Buy them at Pendleton outlet stores, retailers like Made In Oregon, and online at pendleton-usa.com.

2) Boots. Danner hiking and hunting boots — made in Portland by members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555 — are serious business. We won’t say they’re indestructible, but let’s just say you could go through three $100 pairs of sweatshop-made boots at other manufacturers  or you could buy one $300 pair of built-to-last Danner boots and support a fellow union member. Get them at Danner’s Portland outlet store, 12021 NE Airport Way, or at Al’s Shoe’s and Boots — a long-time supporter of the NW Labor Press — at 5811 NE 82nd Ave. [Danner does import some boots, so check the label: If it’s U.S.-made, it’s union-made.] danner.com

3) Books. Forget Amazon.com, notorious for its nonunion sweatshop warehouses. At Powell’s Books, the nation’s largest independent book store, workers are represented by International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 5. Books, gifts, and gift cards are available at six Portland-area locations and online at powells.com.

4) Wine. Year after year, Chateau St. Michelle produces top-ranked wines as judged by Wine Spectator and Wine & Spirits magazine. And they’re made by members of United Farm Workers and Teamsters Local 117 in Washington’s Columbia Valley wine region. [Tip: It tastes best and costs least when purchased at unionized retailers like Fred Meyer or Safeway.] ste-michelle.com.

5) Chocolate. See’s Candies gift boxes are available in all price-ranges, and are made in California by members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers. A 25-piece assortment runs just $19.40. We’re hoping to receive the egg nog or white mint truffles this year! Sees.com.

6) Dinnerware. Fiesta dinnerware is colorful, timeless, and proudly U.S.-made in Newell, West Virginia, by members of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastic and Allied Workers (GMP) Local 419.

7) Cookware. There’s quality American steel in All-Clad pots and pans, union-made by members of the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 3403 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. all-clad.com.

8 ) Music. Visualize a union member. Do you see the trombone? At most major symphony orchestras, American Federation of Musicians helps ensure a living wage for musicians. For $16 to $43, you can see AFM Local 99 members in the Oregon Symphony perform Comfort and Joy, a Dec. 23 matinee of classical Christmas favorites. orsymphony.org.

9) Blades. For the family hunter or fisher, knives made by Gerber Legendary Blades make a sharp-looking gift, and they’re made in Southwest Portland by members of Machinists District Lodge W24. [Some Gerber knives are imported, but if it says Made in Portland on the blade, it’s union-made.] gerbergear.com.

10) Automotive. At In and Out Auto Care in Gladstone, Oregon, a standard full-service oil change, $29.95, is provided by members of Machinists District Lodge W24. All-purpose gift certificates for any amount fit neatly in a stocking, and can be used for tune-ups, maintenance, or repairs. Visit inandoutautocare.com or call 503-786-0700.


Last but not least …

HOLIDAY CARDS: Who knew? American Greetings holiday cards are U.S.-made by union Teamsters. What’s more, you can buy them from a UFCW member for $2.99 at Fred Meyer, and have them delivered anywhere in the United States for 45 cents by a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers. Drop by the post office or online at usps.com for holiday-themed forever stamps.

STOCKING SWEETS: Fill up your stockings with Tacoma-made Almond Roca or San Francisco-made Ghirardelli chocolates, both produced by members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers.

A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP:  When you run out of room for out-of-town relatives, the Portland metro area’s four unionized hotels are surprisingly affordable, and they support family wages and benefits for members of UNITE HERE Local 6: Downtown Hilton Hotel and Executive Tower, The Benson Hotel, Paramount, and the Vancouver Hilton & Convention Center ($101 a night)


  1. My only comment is that Almond Roca is made in Tacoma; not Seattle by members of BCTGM Local 9. The union’s office is in Seattle.


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