Category Archives: Labor unions

Formerly “Unions and unionism”.

Prayers for the National Day of Prayer

Since the recognized avenue for National Day of Prayer observances — supported by quite a few governors, but gladly not the Mayor of the District of Columbia so far as I’ve found; is yours one?is a conservative Evangelical task force (Christian Science Monitor), I think I’ll keep my distance. But a couple of prayers to recall the day, with a note to the other reason people remember May 1. (The National Day of Prayer is the first Thursday in May.)

Let us pray:

O God, who art the unsearchable abyss of peace, the ineffable sea of love, the fountain of blessings, and the bestower of affection, who sendest peace to those that receive it, open to us this day the sea of Thy love, and water us with plenteous streams from the riches of Thy grace, and from the most sweet springs of Thy benignity. Make us children of quietness and heirs of peace. Enkindle in us the fire of Thy love; sow in us Thy fear; strengthen our weakness by Thy power; bind us closely to Thee and to each other in one firm and indissoluble bond of unity. Amen.

Syrian Clementine Liturgy, in “A Book of Common Worship” (Knickerbocker Press, 1915), p. 220.

O God, thou mightiest worker of the universe, source of all strength and author of all unity, we pray thee for our brothers, the industrial workers of the nation. As their work binds them together in common toil and danger, may their hearts be knit together in a strong sense of their common interests and destiny. Help them to realize that the injury of one is the concern of all, and that the welfare of all must be the aim of every one. If any of them is tempted to sell the birthright of his class for a mess of pottage for himself, give him a wider outlook and a nobler sympathy with his fellows. Teach them to keep step in a steady onwards march, and in their own way fulful the law of Christ by bearing the common burdens.

Grant the organizations of labor quiet patience and prudence in all disputes, and fairness to see the other side. Save them malice and bitterness. Save them from the headlong folly which ruins a fair cause, and give them wisdom resolutely to put aside the two-edged sword of violence that turns on those who seize it. Raise up for them still more leaders of able mind and large heart, and give them grace to follow the wiser counsel.

When they strive for leisure and health and a better wage, do thou grant their cause success, but teach them not to waste their gain on fleeting passions, but to use it in building fairer homes and a nobler manhood. Grant all classes of our nation a larger comprehension for the aspirations of labor and for the courage and worth of these our brothers, that we may cheer them in their struggles and understand them even in their sins. And may the upward climb of Labor, its defeats and its victories, in the farther reaches bless all classes of our nation, and build up for the republic of the future a great body of workers, strong of limb, clear of mind, fair in temper, glad to labor, conscious
of their worth, and striving together for the final brotherhood of all men.

Walter Rauschenbusch, For God and the people: prayers of the social awakening (The Pilgrim Press, 1910), p.57-58.

Union-made men’s dress shirts

I’m losing weight — 34 pounds so far — and am beginning to swim in my old clothes. I had already planned to replace much of it because they are showing signs of wear, but only with clothes I know can be sourced without sweatshops. I’ve had to step back a bit from my US-made, union-made goal. I’ve got two posts soon about that.

But today, victory.

I wear Van Heusen shirts and like them. Mine are ordinary white pinpoints, US- and union-made. But they vanished in the stores and I figured the jobs were shipped off-shore. But then I saw the company listed at UNITE HERE’s clothing site, so I wrote:

Greetings:

I saw Phillips-Van Heusen listed by Unite HERE! as a maker of union-made
dress shirts. (http://www.unitehere.org/buyunion/promo.php) I would like to
buy these; can you tell me which lines are union made, or how I might buy
them in person or online?

Yours truly,
Scott Wells
Washington, D.C.

I got the reply yesterday:

Dear Mr. Wells:

The UNITE HERE label is sold in department stores only.

In your surrounding area, the label is sold at Macy’s and Lord & Taylor.
Please visit www.pvh.com, store locator for the exact address of these
department stores.

Thank you!

Sincerely,
Van Heusen Retail Customer Service

Now, Van Heusen has a number of dress shirt lines, some of which are sold locally at Macy’s and Lord and Taylor and some not. I do need a couple of new shirts. I’ll let you know what I come up with.

And if not them, there are other options, but by mail-order and probably at greater cost.

All this talk of IDs . . . .

Several people have resumed discussion of General Assembly: of this, I have nothing to add.

But it leads me to a bit of good news. I am back to the weight shown on my driver’s license, long a fiction. More than 20 pounds down from where I was when I started to loose weight at Thanksgiving! The blogging upside is I will start ordering sweatshop-free, union- or worker-cooperative-made and ethically-sourced clothing.

Just a status update. Just another 25 pounds to go!

Parson’s Handbook: avoid sweatshops

Dearmer, in his introduction, reviews the poor esteem his Church then held for the arts: how commercial purchase has replaced patronage for its decorations and furnishings. Little wonder — it follows — how little concern artists have for the Church. In case the Unitarian Universalists out there have glazed-over eyes, I should point out it was Percy Dearmer who commissioned the hymn “Morning Has Broken.” Got your attention now?

He goes on and spells out the moral problem — to use our terms — of outsourcing vendors. More than the class of artists

. . . there is another class of persons concerned, the largest of all, the working class. For vulgarity in the long-run always means cheapness, and cheapness means the tyranny of the sweater [sweatshop supervisor]. A modern preacher often stands in a sweated pulpit, wearing a sweated surplice over a cassock that was not produced under fair conditions, and, holding a sweated book in one hand, with the other he points to the machine-made cross at the jerry-built altar, and appeals to the sacred principles of mutual sacrifice and love. (page 5)

He’s still right in principle, but it is now easy to buy all the church goods you need — save electronics — from American, Canadian and western European suppliers with less risk of buying from a sweatshop than anything else might use for clothing or decor. I’ve written about some of the suppliers before, including the candle makers under union contract. Indeed, indirectly, Dearmer gets credit here too, for his part in the formation of the Wareham Guild, for “the making of all the ‘Ornaments of the Church and of the Ministers thereof’ according to the standard of the Ornaments Rubric, and under fair conditions of labour” thus influencing both the style and default labor conditions of church and clergy furnishings workers.

But we can never be too careful, especially when we’re tempted by bargains.

Ethically-sourced laptops: just finding vendors

Following up on Ms. Theologian’s comments about who really makes laptop computers (Surviving the Workday), I thought I would point out two sources. These really are the exception to the rule, and even these use foreign-made components, including those sourced from China. But at least you can email someone and get a straight answer.

  • Like at Union Built PC. This link is to a laptop noted as”Union Final Assembly in USA from domestic and foreign components by members of CWA Local 1101 or IBEW Local 17.” Those locals are in New York City and Southfield, Michigan. (Note: the locals sites may cause headaches and unpleasant questions about web design, particularly the former.)
  • One of the interns at Day Job showed me his laptop that he got from a “mom n’ pop” (and Christian, it seems) supplier of generic laptops — since they’re nearly all made in Asia anyway — and it had held up well, with good customer service. I’ll investigate them since at least you can identify your model with a real factory. They also sell laptops without an operating system, desirable for Linux users. Again, no points for web design, but you can’t have it all.

I’m getting the gruesome feeling that the best laptop, in the end, is no laptop. I mean, do I really need one this badly?

Newletter to help identify union-made goods, services

I’ve gone over and over how I try to buy US and Canadian union-made goods to ensure the goods I buy were produced with consideration for the workers who make them, and to try to keep a variety of industries on these shores. (Just imagine the cost of imports as transport fuel costs increase.)

But sometimes it isn’t easy to find these goods.  The newsletter of the Union Label and Service Trades Department of the AFL-CIO — Label Letter — is very helpful. I go to its Do Buy feature for seeking out vendors. For instance, need a small gift for a child? Good ol’ Golden Books are union-made. (I always thought the Poky Little Puppy was a little, er, wobbly.) UUA GA attendees note: Powell’s, the “city of books,” is a Portland, Oregon feature with a unionized staff that knows its stuff.

The November/December 2006 issue is helpful for deciphering clothing labels.

Go to the Newsletter pulldown menu at UnionLabel.org.

GA 2007: Unionized hotels

According to Hotel Workers Rising, a campaign of UNITE HERE!, the following Portland, Oregon hotels have unionized workers (direct link):

Portland Hilton
921 SW Southwest 6th ave
Portland, OR 97204

The Benson Hotel
309 SW Broadway
Portland, OR
Phone: 503-228-2000

The Paramount Hotel
808 SW Taylor
Portland, OR 97205
Phone: 503-223-9900

The Hilton is an official UUA hotel. I think it’s where I stayed in Portland on Day Job Business and liked it very much: not unreasonably priced, either.

GLBT readers note SleepWithTheRightPeople.org, “an alliance of the LGBT community and UNITE HERE!” for more information and (I think) a perfectly fair and moderate tipping guide.

I love my “clean” union-made, USA-made blue jeans

Did you see the recent episode of Independent Lens entitled “China Blue” on PBS? It is the undercover story of real Chinese garment workers who make blue jeans for the American and other markets. The workers make pennies to make our clothing while their bosses, the distributors and the marketers grow rich. Paid $100 for designer jeans? Chances are that all the line workers combined made less than a dollar. And the sorry state is that nearly all clothing bought in the US today has a similar backstory.

But there are alternatives: union-made clothing from the United States and other countries where workers have the right to organize. Better yet, workers can own their business and share in the decisions and profits. Some of these union goods are expensive — but cost is no guarantee that the workers are well-treated: some sweatshop goods are quite costly. And some union and worker-cooperative goods are quite reasonable.

Over the next few months I’ll feature these as I replace parts of my well-warn wardrobe.

Right now, I’m wearing my US-made Union Line jeans. I wrote about them about a year ago and I love them. The khakis which I gave grudging approval then are now my favorites in part because the cloth is so robust. They support a perma-crease that makes them look fresher longer, and thus need washing less often (which in turn makes them last longer.) A pair of old Dockers feel like a diaper by contrast.

Union House still has the jeans, but so does Union Jean Company, No Sweat, Justice Clothing, and The Union Shop, so you can comparison shop or buy from the store that has other things you want.