Buying any gifts this holiday season? If you buy union, you help keep good jobs in the community, and vote with your dollars for enterprises that pay your fellow workers a living wage with benefits.
Union-made can be hard to find. Here are some ideas.
Store shelves may be crowded with foreign-made goods, but you can still find gifts for the home cook that are union-made in America. All Pyrex products are made in Charleroi, Pennsylvania by 310 members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 53G. “There’s a lot of pride in our product,” says Local 53G president Thomas Seal, a 34-year employee at the plant. Other USW members in Pennsylvania and New York make All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware and Cutco cutlery. And U.S.-made Fiesta brand dinnerware is made in West Virginia by members of the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastic and Allied Workers union.
Danner got its start in 1936 making boots for loggers. Eighty years later, their boots are still built to last, whether for work, hunting, hiking, or around town. Danner makes about half its products at its Northeast Portland factory, where workers are represented by UFCW Local 555. Check the label: If the boots are U.S.-made, they were made here with union labor.
Nothing says Pacific Northwest pride like a Pendleton Woolen Mills blanket. Warm and durable, Pendleton blankets (but not apparel) are made in Washougal, Washington, and Pendleton, Oregon, by 210 members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49. Their union contract means wages of $15.94 to $18.90 an hour, plus overtime after eight hours, and health and pension benefits. You can see how the blankets are made with free tours at both locations.
Portland’s last unionized movie projectionist was laid off by Cinema 21 in 1997. But most Hollywood films themselves are still overwhelmingly union productions, from the stars in SAG-AFTRA to the gaffers in IATSE. Who wouldn’t love to get a gift card to Regal Cinemas, or nonprofit Hollywood Theater, or even Living Room Theaters across from the unionized downtown Powell’s Books?
The smart phone itself is most likely assembled in China, but the workers who maintain the cellular network will be members of Communications Workers of America (CWA) if you choose AT&T or Cricket. When you visit a company-owned AT&T store in Oregon and Southwest Washington, you’re talking with a member of CWA Local 7901. And union members can get a 15-20 percent discount on some cell plans. To download a discount coupon, visit unionplus.org/benefits/home/att-discounts.
Oregon Ballet Theater, the Portland Opera, the Oregon Symphony: All of them employ members of American Federation of Musicians Local 99, IATSE Local 28 crews, and IATSE Local B-20 members, who work as ushers, ticket takers and elevator operators. The biggest employer of union musicians is the Oregon Symphony, with 76 full-timers. Session players earn $200 per two-hour appearance, plus pension and healthcare contributions.
Unions are rare in the wine industry, but Washington’s award-winning Chateau Ste. Michelle is an exception. It employs members of United Farm Workers in its vineyards, and members of Teamsters Local 117 in the barrel room, warehouse, production, shipping and maintenance departments at its Woodinville facility. Company labels include Columbia Crest, Chateau Ste. Michelle wines, Domaine Ste. Michelle, and Snoqualmie, and others.
How to stuff stockings union-style
Ghirardelli chocolates and See’s Candies gift boxes are made in California by members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers (BCTGM). Almond Roca is made by BCGTM members in Seattle. Hershey’s and Russell Stover are union-made too.
Where to buy union-made gifts, and how to send them
Union retailers: Shop Fred Meyer and Powell’s, not Walmart, Target and Amazon
When you buy at Fred Meyer, Portland’s only unionized general retailer, the money you spend will employ members of UFCW Local 555 (and Bakers Local 114, at Fred Meyer bakery departments). Or keep it simple and get a Fred Meyer gift card. And why shop at Amazon when you could buy books and gifts at Powell’s Books and support about 420 Portland-area members of ILWU Local 5, from cashiers to truck drivers to computer programmers. Powells pays wages that average over $13.50 an hour, and provides health benefits for full-time employees. And if you shop online through ilwulocal5.com, 7.5 percent of your purchase goes to the union strike fund.
Union shippers: Sending cards and packages? Ship it union with USPS and UPS, and don’t patronize antiunion FedEx
U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is a publicly-owned employer that provides nearly half a million career union jobs with benefits in every community in America. UPS is the single largest employer in the Teamsters Union, with about 250,000 union-represented employees.