Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Discounting Lives to Maximize Profits



Imitating Sgt. Schultz of “Hogan’s Heroes,” Walmart executives claimed they knew nothing—NOTHING—about working conditions in a garment factory in Bangladesh where 112 workers died and more than 150 were injured in a fire.

Tazreen Fashions made Walmart’s Faded Glory brand clothes, as well as clothes for Sears and other dozens of other major retailers. Walmart officials told the news media they had previously terminated Tazreen as a direct supplier because of concerns about fire hazards, but that another supplier had subcontracted the work to Tazreen. Walmart refused to identify the supplier. In an official statement, Walmart said that the fire was “extremely troubling to us, and we will continue to work with the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh.”

News reports indicate that survivors said fire extinguishers didn’t work, exit doors were locked, and there were no emergency exits. The AP reports that most fire extinguishers were not used, the workers having no knowledge of how to use them. According to the AP, most of the workers, about 70 percent of them women, were from the poorest sections of Bangladesh. More than 700 workers have died since 2005 from fires in the Bangladesh’s growing clothing manufacturing industry, according to the International Labor reporting Forum.

As with the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York in 1911, where 146 women, most of them recent Jewish and Italian immigrants working in sweatshop conditions, the workers at Tazreen were burned alive trying to get through the doors that never opened, died from smoke inhalation, or jumped to their deaths. Many of the dead in both fires were buried in unmarked graves, their bodies unrecognizable. The Triangle fire eventually led to improved safety conditions and the rise of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union to protect workers from management callousness.

Walmart has a fierce anti-union policy for its own stores and employees, but doesn’t say much about working conditions in companies that supply merchandise, nor does it actively oppose unions in other companies overseas. There is no organized representation for most of the workers in Bangladesh sweatshops. Most workers earn $8.50 to $12.50 for a 48 hour work week, with mandatory overtime that can push them to as many as 80 hours. They receive two or three days off in a month. If Americans wonder why their clothes may not be as good as American-made clothes produced in union shops, the answer could be that the workers in Bangladesh may be mentally and physically fatigued, and that multinational corporations pressure suppliers to cut costs on material and labor. Bangladesh, now competing with China, shipped about $18 billion worth of merchandise to American and European corporations last year.

About 40 percent of all merchandise sold by Walmart is produced by contracts with manufacturers (most overseas), where low wages, excessive work hours, and poor working conditions are accepted practice. Walmart doesn’t make public the names of the companies which produce those “low prices” merchandise. However, it is known that it has contracts with several Bangladesh companies, as well as more than 20,000 Chinese manufacturers.

With revenue of more than $447 billion a year and about a 25 percent profit, Walmart is the largest public company in income in the world. But with its “low prices” slogan comes significant risk.

Walmart and other corporations have pushed American suppliers to outsource their own merchandise to overseas suppliers. More than 3.3 million American jobs will have been outsourced by 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. However, Goldman Sachs projects that as many as seven million jobs will have been lost by 2014. Most are in clothing and computer/electronics manufacturing, and in service centers where American customers call “help” lines and often get a heavily-accented representative who says his name is “Sam.” What most politicians, business people, and the public don’t understand is there is a direct correlation between the number of jobs outsourced and high unemployment in the U.S.

Walmart, which originally established a “Buy American” slogan before strutting its “lower prices” philosophy, now claims that over half its merchandise is made in America. This may or may not be accurate—Walmart doesn’t give specifics. But, if accurate, most of that is from its expanded grocery stores. Clothing, electronics, household goods, and thousands of other products are still made overseas—usually in conditions that are, at best, sweatshops; at worst, death traps. Every Congressional bill to ban the import of products produced in sweatshop conditions has been smothered in the committee process.

It’s possible that Walmart executives and upper management of the 2.2 million employee corporation that has eyes in almost every spot of the world did not know about working conditions in Tazreen—or any of the other sweatshops in Asia. It’s also possible they did know, but did a PR shuffle to explain their indifference. It really doesn’t matter.

The sweatshops allow the corporations to sell the cheap merchandise that results in higher return on investment for American corporations that rely upon American consumers who want cheap merchandise, and don’t seem to care where it comes from or how it’s produced.

But, even those Americans who do care, and would pay higher prices for merchandise produced by workers in unionized American manufacturing plants, usually don’t have a choice. It’s hard to find “Made in America” labels on clothes and numerous other products sold by major retailers that have largely ignored sweatshop conditions in order to maximize profit.

[Walter Brasch’s latest book is Before the First Snow, which looks at working conditions. Assisting on this column was Rosemary R. Brasch]

American Patriotism in Hyper-Drive



It’s midway between Flag Day and Independence Day.

That means several million copies of full-page flags printed on cheap newsprint, June 14, have been burned, shredded, thrown away, or perhaps recycled. It’s an American tradition.

Flag Day was created by President Wilson in 1916 on the eve of the American entry into World War I. It has since been a day to allow Americans to show how patriotic we have become, and give a running start to celebrating the Revolution by buying banners, fireworks, and charcoal briquettes for the upcoming picnic.

Within American society is a large class of people who fly flags on 30-foot poles in front of their houses and adorn their cars with flag decals and what they believe are patriotic bumper stickers. They are also quick to let everyone know how patriotic they are, and how much less patriotic the rest of us are. But patriotism is far more than flying flags and shouting about liberty in Tea Party rallies.

Find someone wearing socks, T-shirt, bandana, and even a jacket that looks like replicas of the American flag, and you might find a hyper-patriot. Of course, just a few decades ago, they would have spat out their disgust to anti-war protestors or hippies who had so much of a flag patch on their jeans.

Most of these hyper-patriots wrap themselves in the flag and Constitution, but are quick to try to shut off dissent, believe the only true religion is the one they espouse, demand that the police frisk citizens who aren’t White, and declare the Supreme Court is un-American when it doesn’t rule the way they think it should.

Many of the hyper-patriots waved those flags high whenever the U.S. has gone to war, even if that war was created by lies. In Iraq, almost 4,500 Americans have been killed; more than 32,000 were wounded, many of them with lifetime injuries.

Many of the hyper-patriots are insensitive to the problems of the 700,000 Americans, about 70,000 of them veterans, who are homeless on any given day.

They are oblivious to the 46 million Americans, about 16 million of them children, who live in poverty.

They oppose universal health care that would help all Americans, including the 50 million who are currently uninsured.

Many of these hyper-patriots believe unions are un-American, and workers who demand good work conditions and benefits are whiners.

These hyper-patriots are also the ones who believe Social Security should be privatized, oppose Medicare, and go ballistic when they think government is infringing upon rights of the individual. But they believe government should impose standards of what are or are not proper sexual positions for consenting adults.

Although the unemployment rate has fallen significantly in the past year, 12.7 million Americans are still trying to find work. The response of hyper-patriots has been to block all attempts by President Obama to pass a jobs creation bill. They readily accept corporate welfare and special tax benefits for the wealthy, but look away when corporations send work and their profits out of the country. The Wall Street Journal reports the 11 top American corporations cut 2.9 million jobs in the U.S. and hired 2.4 million overseas.

Since 2000, more than six million manufacturing jobs have been lost, and 50,000 factories closed. Among jobs now being outsourced are customer complaint specialists, medical records transcribers, phone operators, telemarketers, and even newspaper copyeditors.

More than 500,000 call center jobs have been outsourced. This past week, hyper-patriots in the U.S. House of Representatives, voting largely along party lines, blocked a bill that would have barred American companies that outsourced call center jobs from receiving federal grants and loans and would have given further protection to Americans from identity theft by overseas companies.

These hyper-patriots readily buy products made outside the United States, proudly proclaim the great bargains they just scored, and somehow believe they are still patriots.

But here are two statistics hyper-patriots might wish to reflect upon during the three weeks between Flag Day and Independence Day. About 99 percent of legal fireworks used during July 4th celebrations are made in China. The second statistic is that during the past decade, Americans paid more than $93 million for U.S. flags made overseas, most of them from China. Many of those flags are proudly waved by hyper-patriots.

[Walter Brasch was recently honored by the Pennsylvania Press Club with its lifetime Communicator of Achievement award for journalistic excellence and community service. His latest book is the critically-acclaimed novel, Before the First Snow, a look at the American counterculture, including the media.]

Mission Impossible: Finding a Mini-Van Made in America by Union Workers



Last year, not one of the 491,687 new minivans sold in the United States was made in America by unionized workers.

Some were manufactured overseas by companies owned by non-American manufacturers. The Kia Sedona, with 24,047 sales, was built in South Korea, Russia, and the Philippines. The MAZDA5, with 19,155 sales, was built in China, Japan, and Taiwan.

Some minivans from Japanese companies were built in the U.S., but by non-unionized workers. Honda sold 107,068 Odysseys built in Alabama. Toyota Siennas, built in Indiana, went to 111,429 persons. The Nissan Quest, built in Ohio, had 12,199 sales.
Only three minivans were built by unionized workers, but they were made in Canada by members of the Canadian Auto Workers. The Dodge Grand Caravan, with 110,996 sales; Chrysler Town & Country, with 94,320 sales; and the VW Routan, with 12,473 sales, all share the same basic body; most differences are cosmetic. GM and Ford no longer produce minivans.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) suggests that members who wish to buy minivans buy one of the three Chrysler products because much of the parts are manufactured in the United States by UAW members.

All cars, trucks, and vans from GM, Ford, and Chrysler are produced by union workers in the U.S. or Canada. The Japanese-owned Mitsubishi Eclipse, Spyder, and Galant, and the Mazda6 are produced in the U.S. under UAW contracts; neither company makes minivans. All vehicles produced in the U.S. have the first Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) as a 1, 4, or 5; vehicles produced in Canada have a 2 as the first VIN number.
Founded in 1935, the UAW quickly established a reputation for creating the first cost-of-living allowances (COLAs) and employer-paid health care programs. It helped pioneer pensions, supplementary unemployment benefits, and paid vacations.

It has been at the forefront of social and economic justice issues; Walter Reuther, its legendary president between 1946 and his death in 1970, marched side-by-side with Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez, and helped assure that the UAW was one of the first unions to allow minorities into membership and to integrate the workforce. Bob King, its current president, a lawyer, was arrested for civil disobedience, carrying on the tradition of the social conscience that has identified the union and its leadership.
The UAW doesn’t mind that corporations make profits; it does care when some of the profit is at the expense of the worker, for without a competent and secure work force, there would be no profit. When the economy failed under the Bush–Cheney administration, and the auto manufacturers were struggling, the UAW recognized it was necessary for the workers to take pay cuts and make other concessions for the companies to survive.

But not all corporations have the social conscience that the UAW and the “Big 3” auto manufacturers developed. For decades, American corporations have learned that to “maximize profits,” “improve the bottom line,” and “give strength to shareholder stakes” they could downsize their workforce and ship manufacturing throughout the world. Our companies have outsourced almost every form of tech support, as well as credit card assistance, to vendors whose employees speak varying degrees of English, but tell us their names are George, Barry, or Miriam. Clothing, toys, and just about anything bought by Americans could be made overseas by children working in abject conditions; their parents might make a few cents more, and in certain countries would be thrilled to earn less than half the U.S. minimum wage.

Americans go along with this because they think they are getting their products cheaper. What they don’t want to see is the working conditions of those who are employed by companies that are sub-contractors to the mega-conglomerates of American enterprise. These would be the same companies whose executives earn seven and eight-figure salaries and benefits, while millions are unemployed.

But, Americans don’t care. After all, we’re getting less expensive products, even if what we buy is cheaply made because overseas managers, encouraged by American corporate executives, lower the quality of materials and demand even more work from their employees.

Walk into almost every department store and Big Box store, and it’s a struggle to find clothes, house supplies, and entertainment media made in America. If you do find American-made products, they are probably produced in “right-to-work” states that think unionized labor is a Communist-conspiracy to destroy the free enterprise system of the right to make obscene profits at the expense of the working class.
We can wave flags and tell everyone how much more patriotic we are than them, but we still can’t buy a minivan made in America by unionized workers—even when the price is lower than that of the non-unionized competition.

[Sales figures of minivans are from Also assisting was Rosemary Brasch. Walter Brasch’s latest book is the critically-acclaimed novel Before the First Snow, which looks at the mass media, social justice, and the labor movement. The book is available from amazon, local bookstores, and in both hard copy or an ebook.]

Labor Pains: A Fable for Our Times


by Walter Brasch

Once, many years ago, in a land far away between two oceans, with fruited plains, amber waves of grain, and potholes on its highways, there lived a young man named Sam.

Now, Sam was a bright young man who wanted to work and save money so he could go to school and become an electrician. But the only job open in his small community was at the gas station. So, for two years, Sam pumped gas, washed windshields, checked dipsticks and tire pressure, smiled and chatted with all the customers, gave them free drinking glasses when they ordered a fill-up, and was soon known as the best service station attendant in town.

But then the Grand Caliphs of Oil said that Megamania Oil Empire, of which they all had partial ownership, caused them to raise the price of gas.
“We’re paying 39 cents a gallon now,” they cried, “how can you justify tripling our costs?” they demanded.

“That’s business,” said the Chief Grand Caliph flippantly. But, to calm the customer fury, he had a plan. “We will allow you the privilege of pumping your own gas, washing your own windows, checking your car’s dipsticks and tire pressure, and chatting amiably with yourselves,” said the Caliph. “If you do that, we will hold the price to only a buck or two a gallon.”

And the people were happy. All except Sam, of course, who was unemployed.
But, times were good, and Sam went to the local supermarket, which was advertising for a minimum wage checkout clerk. For three years, he worked hard, scanning all groceries and chatting amiably with the customers. And then one day his manager called him into the office.

“Sam,” said the boss, “we’re very pleased with your work. You’re fired.” From corporate headquarters had come a decision by the chain’s chief bean counter that there weren’t enough beans for their executives to go to Europe to search for more beans.

“But,” asked Sam, “Who will scan the groceries?”

“The customers will,” said the boss. “We’ll even have a no-hassle machine that will take their money and maybe even give change.”

“But won’t they object to buying the groceries, scanning them, bagging them, and shoving their money into a faceless machine?”

“Not if we tell them that by doing all the work, the cost will be less,” said the manager.

“But it won’t,” said Sam.

The manager thought a moment, and then brightly pointed out, “We’ll just say that the cost of groceries won’t go up significantly if labor costs were less. Besides, we even programmed Canmella the Circuit-enhanced Clerk to tell customers to have a nice day.”

Now, others may have sworn, cried, or punched out their supervisor, but this is a G-rated fairy tale, and it wouldn’t be right to leave Sam to flounder among the food. By cutting back on luxuries, like food and clothes, Sam saved a few dollars from his unemployment checks, and finally had enough to go to a community college to learn to become an electrician. After graduating at the top of his class, an emaciated and homeless Sam got a job at Acme Industries.

For nine years, he was a great electrician, often making suggestions that led to his company becoming one of the largest electrical supplies manufacturers in the country. And then one day one of the company’s 18 assistant vice-presidents called Sam into a small dingy office, which the company used for such a day. “You’re the best worker we have,” the AVP joyfully told Sam, “but all that repetitive stress has cut your efficiency and increased our medical costs. In the interest of maximizing profits, we have to replace you.”

“But who can do my job?” asked Sam.

“Not who,” said the manager, “but what. We’re bringing in robots. They’re faster and don’t need breaks, vacations, or sick days. Better yet, they don’t have union contracts.”

“So you are firing me,” said Sam.

“Not at all. We had to let a few dozen other workers go so there would be room for the robots, and we won’t be hiring any new workers, but because of your hard work, we’re reassigning you to oil the robots. At least until we design robots that can oil the other robots.”

For three years, Sam oiled, polished, and cleaned up after the robots. Sometimes, he even had to rewire them. And then the deputy assistant senior director of Human Resources called him into her office.

“No one can oil and polish as well as you can,” she said, but the robots are getting very expensive and we still have several hundred workers who are taking lobster and truffles from the mouths of our corporate executives, “so we’re sending all of our work to somewhere in Asia. Or maybe it’s Mexico. Whatever. The workers there will gladly design and assemble our products for less than a tenth what we have to pay our citizens.”

“You mean I’m fired?!” said a rather incredulous Sam.

“Not fired. That’s so pre-NAFTA. You’ve been downsized.”


“If you want, we can also say you’ve been outsourced. How about right-sized. That’s a nicer word. Would you prefer to be right-sized?”

By now, Sam was no longer meek. He no longer was willing to accept whatever he was told.

“The work will be shoddier,” said Sam. “There will be problems.”

“Of course there will be,” said the lady from HR. “That’s why we hired three Pakistani goat herders to solve customer complaints.”

“Our citizens won’t stand for this,” said a defiant Sam.

“As long as the product is cheaper, our people will gladly go to large non-union stores and buy whatever it is that we tell them to buy.”

And she was right.

[Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and former university professor. His latest book is the pro-labor mystery novel, Before the First Snow, available at amazon and other book dealers.]

United Steelworkers Union International President calls for reviving manufacturing


AUGUST 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

United Steelworkers Union International President calls for reviving manufacturing


LEHIGH VALLEY, July 11th- Leo Gerald, President of the United Steelworkers (USW) International Union stated that United States manufacturing and nation’s defense industries are in critical condition and must be revived to ensure national security.

“The American economy remains fragile and uncertainty reigns. Unemployment, underemployment, wage stagnation, foreclosures all paint a grim picture of an economy still struggling to recover. For American manufacturing communities, this recession has been just one more big wave of economic tsunams that have devastated workers, employers and communties,” said Mr. Gerald.

Speaking for the United Steelworkers Union and its affiliates, before a United States Commitee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing, Mr. Gerard called for immediate action with strategic and employment linked policies, investments and incentives to revitalize a manufacturing base that lost some six million jobs and 57,000 manufacturing facilities between 1998 and 2010.

Local 2599, East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem, represents USW members throughout the Lehigh Valley. Jerry Green is President of Local 2599.

Calling erosion of America’s manufacturing base a “clear and present danger,” Mr. Gerard told the committee that the health of manufacturing and the nation’s defense industries are inextricably linked.

“We believe that the decade long decline of the American manufacturing base is a crisis that has undermined our economic security and is a direct threat to our national security. The question before us is, what has happened to that prosperity and security and what must we do to strengthen the nation’s industrial base,” he added

The Debt Crisis: Let’s Get Personal



You have a credit card with a $25,000 limit.

Because you have a good job, you only have $6,000 on the card, and routinely pay the monthly statement and a little extra on the principal.

But then you decide you need a 52-inch high-def LCD TV screen to go into your “man cave,” and your family rightfully decides they need a vacation. So, you add a few thousand to the credit card. But, it’s all OK since you just got a promotion at work.
A couple of months later, your 2008 Honda begins puffing smoke. By the time repairs are done, it’s another thousand on the card.

And then your boss calls you into her office. Your work has been excellent, she tells you. You have made numerous contributions to the company, she says. But her boss has figured out he can make even more money for himself and the nebulous apparitions known as stockholders, so he is sending much of the company’s manufacturing needs overseas, where labor (and often workmanship) is much less of a financial burden. Besides, he won’t have to deal with unions overseas. Oh, yeah, says your boss, you’ve been replaced by some guy in Pakistan who’ll work for a tenth of your salary.

But there’s good news, says your boss. Because of your long and dedicated service, you’ll get four whole weeks salary—and health care benefits for two full months. You’ll surely find work in that time, you believe.

Three months later, you’re still unemployed. The mortgage is due. Bills pile up. But, you’re optimistic. You have a good work record. You’ll find another job. Besides, your wife (who had quit her job to spend full-time taking care of the home and raising the three children) just got a job at $7.80 an hour as a clerk at a big-box department store to help out. It’s only temporary, the two of you believe. You’ll get a job soon; she’ll be able to quit her job. A few more months go by, and both of you are now working—she as a near-minimum-wage clerk; you as a part-time customer service representative for a hardware store at two bucks over minimum wage. That’s all you could find. You don’t have health benefits; hers, which cover the family, are significantly less than what you once had.

You’re depressed, but there’s no money for social workers or psychologists. You and your family are a bit testy, snapping out for no apparent reason; there’s no money for marital counseling.

The bills pile up. There’s unreimbursed medical costs, a couple of unexpected veterinary bills for your two dogs, clothes for the kids, gas for the cars so you can get to your jobs. And then that variable interest mortgage hits a new high. You put a few more necessities onto the credit card and are now are at $24,950 of your $25,000 debt limit.

So, you go to the bank—the one that sold you the house, and which gladly gave you a mortgage when times were good and it could make a lot of money—and ask for a raise in the credit limit.

But times aren’t that good right now, and the bank refuses to raise your credit limit. After all, says the banker, there’s no way you could make monthly payments.

You plead that if the bank doesn’t raise the credit card limit, you won’t be able to survive, that you’ll have to default. That means you’ll lose your house and, probably, your cars. Your credit rating, once among the best, will plummet even further. Too bad, says the banker. Get another job, he says. One that pays better. Or, maybe work two jobs. Of course, there’s no jobs at the bank, or anywhere else. But that’s not his problem.

You again plead for help, but the banker isn’t interested. It’s your fault you’re in this mess, he tells you. You spent too much, he coldly explains. Cut spending, and you’ll be able to meet your minimum monthly payment—you know, the one with the 13.5 percent interest that goes to the bank—and, well, figure out something. He has no compassion and won’t help.

But there may be hope. Another banker comes into the office, hears your story, and wants to raise your debt limit, but the other banker has taken a stand. With you in the office, the two of them talk, argue, and shout loud enough so the other bankers and customers can hear them. It’s now 3:55 p.m., and the bank closes in five minutes, at which time the credit card, because of steadily rising interest, will be maxed out.

Finally, the two bankers agree to provide a miniscule amount of help. They will temporarily raise your credit limit, but will now dictate exactly what you can spend, and how you’ll spend it.

Since you like hunting, and they like hunting, they’ll let you buy all the guns and ammunition you want. But, they can’t help you on your health bills, or even lower the insurance premiums and co-pays. And, they can’t do much for that inflated mortgage payment. Or to help you find another job.

You will have to wear old clothes, used clothes, or lower your clothing expenses, they say, but there’s a solution. They give you a catalogue of very nice clothes—men’s, women’s, children’s. The pictures of the clothes, in full color on glossy paper, is just what you need to reduce your costs so you look presentable at the next job interview. And no one notices that the clothes the banker wants you to buy are all made in Pakistan.

[Water Brasch’s current book is Before the First Snow, the story of a ’60s “flower child,” and the reporter who covered her life, and that of America, for more than three decades. The book is available at]

Alliance for American Manufacturing statement regarding President Obama’s elevation of Ron Bloom


Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) Executive Director Scott Paul gave the following statement regarding President Obama’s elevation of Ron Bloom to the position of assistant to the president for manufacturing policy:

“The Alliance for American Manufacturing enthusiastically welcomes the announcement today of Ron Bloom being elevated to the position of assistant to the president for manufacturing policy. No one knows the intersection of Wall Street, company board rooms, how things work on the shop floor, and economic policy better than Ron, who demonstrated his skill and know-how in helping to lead the auto industry recovery effort.

“Ron’s intellect and perspective are much-needed at a time when Congress and the Administration turn their attention to creating good manufacturing jobs in America. We share Ron’s interest and ability in bringing labor and business together to solve problems, and we look forward to working with him in his new capacity to strengthen our economy.”

Click here to view Ron Bloom addressing an AAM Town Hall meeting in Indiana last fall.

Contact: Steven Capozzola, Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing, 202-550-4322.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is a unique non-partisan, non-profit partnership forged to strengthen manufacturing in the U.S. AAM brings together a select group of America’s leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers. Our mission is to promote creative policy solutions on priorities such as international trade, energy security, health care, retirement security, currency manipulation, and other issues of mutual concern.

“18 Iconic Products That America Doesn’t Make Anymore”


“18 Iconic Products That America Doesn’t Make Anymore”

Posted by scapozzola on 11/08/2010 -@Alliance for American Manufacturing

With thanks to the Business Insider, we’d like to reprint an excellent piece they posted, “18 Iconic Products That America Doesn’t Make Anymore.”

Rawlings baseballs, Last production date: 1969– Rawlings is the official supplier of baseballs to Major League Baseball. The St. Louis shop was founded in 1887 by George and Alfred Rawlings. In 1969 the brothers moved the baseball-manufacturing plant from Puerto Rico to Haiti and then later to Costa Rica.

Etch a Sketch, Last production date: 2000– Etch A Sketch, an iconic American toy since the 1960s, used to be produced in Bryan, Ohio, a small town of 8,000. Then in Dec. 2000, toymaker Ohio Art decided to move production to Shenzhen, China.

Converse shoes, Last production date: 2001– Marquis M. Converse opened Converse Rubber Show Company in Massachusetts in 1908. Chuck Taylors– named after All American high school basketball player Chuck Taylor– began selling in 1918 as the show eventually produced an industry record of over 550 million pairs by 1997. But in 2001 sales were on the decline and the U.S. factory closed. Now Chuck Taylors are made in Indonesia.

Stainless steel rebar, Last production date: circa 2001– Many forms of this basic steel product are not available domestically. Multiple waivers to the Buy America Act have allowed purchase of rebar internationally. Note: The Buy America Act requires government mass transportation spending to use American products.

Dress shirts*, Last production date: Oct. 2002– The last major shirt factory in America closed in October 2002, according to NYT. C.F. Hathaway’s Maine factory had been producing shirts since 1837. *We know there are other shirt manufacturers in America. They do not produce in large quantities or supply major brands.

Mattel toys, Last production date: 2002– The largest toy company in the world closed their last American factory in 2002. Mattel, headquartered in California, produces 65 percent of their products in China as of August 2007.

Minivans, Last production date: circa 2003– A waiver to the Buy America Act permitted an American producer of wheel-chair accessible minivans to purchase Canadian chassis for use in government contracts, because no chassis were available from the United States. The waiver specified: “General Motors and Chrysler minivan chassis, including those used on the Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac Montana, Buick Terraza, Saturn Relay, Chrysler Town & Country, and Dodge Grand Caravan, are no longer manufactured in the United States.” Note: The Buy America Act requires government mass transportation spending to use American products.

Vending machines, Last production date: circa 2003– You know that thing you put bills into on a vending machine? It isn’t made in America, according to a waiver to the Buy America Act. Neither is the coin dispenser, according to this federal waiver. Note: The Buy America Act requires government mass transportation spending to use American products.

Levi jeans, Last production date: Dec. 2003– Levi Strauss & Co. shut down all its American operations and outsourced production to Latin America and Asia in Dec. 2003. The company’s denim products have been an iconic American product for 150 years.

Radio Flyer’s Red Wagon, Last production date: March 2004– The little red wagon has been an iconic image of America for years. But once Radio Flyer decided its Chicago plant was too expensive, it began producing most products, including the red wagon, in China.

Televisions, Last production date: Oct. 2004– Five Rivers Electronic Innovations was the last American owned TV color maker in the US. The Tennessee company used LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) technology to produce televisions for Philips Electronics. But after Philips decided to stop selling TVs with LCoS, Five Rivers eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Oct. 2004. As part of its reorganization plan, the company stopped manufacturing TVs. Now there are ZERO televisions made in America, according to Business Week.

Cell phones, Last production date: circa 2007– Of the 1.2 billion cell phones sold worldwide in 2008, NOT ONE was made in America, according to Manufacturing & Technology publisher Richard McCormick. After studying the websites of cell phone companies, we could not identify a single phone that was not manufactured primarily overseas.

Railroads (parts including manganese turnout castings, U69 guard bars, LV braces and weld kits), Last production date: circa 2008– Here’s another standout from dozens of waivers to the Buy America Act: railroad turnouts and weld kits. Manganese turnout castings are used to widen railroad tracks, and they were used to build our once-great railroad system. U69 guard bars, LV braces and Weld Kits, along with 22 mm Industrial steel chain are basic items that were certifiably not available in the US. Note: The Buy America Act requires government mass transportation spending to use American products.

Dell computers, Last production date: Jan. 2010– In January 2010, Dell closed its North Carolina PC factory, its last large U.S. plant. Analysts said Dell would be outsourcing work to Asian manufacturers in an attempt to catch up with the rest of the industry, said analyst Ashok Kumar.

Canned sardines, Last production date: April 2010– Stinson Seafood plant, the last sardine cannery in Maine and the U.S., shut down in April. The first U.S. sardine cannery opened in Maine in 1875, but since the demand for the small, oily fish declined, more canneries closed shop.

Pontiac cars, Last production date: May 2010– The last Pontiac was produced last May. The brand was formally killed on Halloween, as GM contracts Pontiac dealerships expired. The 84-year-old GM brand was famous for muscle cars.

Forks, spoons, and knives, Last production date: June 2010– The last flatware factory in the US closed last summer. Sherrill Manufacturing bought Oneida Ltd. in 2005, but shut down its fork & knife operations due to the tough economy. CEO Greg Owens says his company may resume production “when the general economic climate improves and as Sherrill Manufacturing is able to put itself back on its feet and recapitalize and regroup.”

Incandescent light bulb, Last production date: Sept. 2010– The incandescent light bulb (invented by Thomas Edison) has been phased out. Our last major factory that made incandescent light bulbs closed in September 2010. In 2007, Congress passed a measure that will ban incandescents by 2014, prompting GE to close its domestic factory. Note: A reader pointed out that the Osram/Sylvania Plant in St. Mary’s, Penn. is still producing light bulbs to fill old and international contracts. However, the plant has announced plans to wind down incandescent production.

Have You Seen Them?


Have you seen them?
By Ed Knox

I refer to beautiful stress balls that have been distributed throughout the United States of America, specifically at Veterans’ Administration Hospitals and similar locations.

These balls are beautifully imprinted with red, white & blue background and then with “DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS’ AFFAIRS” imprinted along with a toll-free telephone number and a statement regarding the courage it takes for a Warrior to ask for help.

(I think that statement is in reference to those of us who served in the Military and might be experiencing difficulties coping with the effects of our service.)

So what? Guess where they’re made. Yep. That’s right; these balls are made in China!

It is an insult to those who fought and died for the Freedoms we enjoy here in the United States of America. You’ve heard the quote: “For those who fought for it, Freedom has a taste the protected will never know!”

We obviously cannot go backwards in time to correct the past. The best resolution moving forward is to let our Veterans know whether or not we as a Country care about them and their employment situation.

There are companies here in America that would be happy to manufacture these balls. I’m certain that these companies would hire Veterans. These companies - right here in the United States - would be proud to not only hire Veterans, but would be even more proud to know that they have helped Veterans who others might consider to be handicapped.

Think about what a wonderful message we SHOULD be shouting: “Because the United States of America actually intends to keep its word to the Veterans of Military Service, we will insist that first hiring priorities will go to Companies within the United States of America. These companies will receive even more ‘priority’ when they hire Veterans. Still more ‘priority’ will be assigned to them if those Veterans happen to have a Service-Connected disability. Companies who do not manufacture within the USA will not be considered a resource for items that could have and should have been manufactured in the USA! This is without regard to whether or not the ‘bottom line’ seems to be cheaper. That ‘bottom line’ is NEVER cheaper when it creates an increase in unemployment of Americans.” That statement becomes even stronger when you consider the employment situation of our Nation’s Veterans!

As a Viet Nam Veteran, a Member of the DAV, NABVETS, the American Legion, a lifetime Member of the VFW, and a true American Patriot; I am appalled and sickened by the situation as it currently stands.

One of the items that you might want to consider is to ask your Senators and Congressmen to continue funding the wonderful program called HELMETS TO HARDHATS. ( ) This is a program that assists our Service Members in their transition from Military to Civilian life. It helps them find a career pathway. Another item to consider is to donate your time and/or some Dollars to help HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS. ( ) This fine organization builds special-needs homes for some of our returning veterans who have been severely injured in combat.

Paying attention to the problems facing our Veterans, and helping to put America back to work in order to start repairing our economy are the two most important issues facing our Country today.

Be American, Buy American!!



Ed Knox is President of Local Union 68 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and is a Member of the Denver Musicians’ Association (DMA). There are photographs to accompany this article which were taken by Pete Vriesenga, President of the DMA; but I can’t figure out how to post them here. Any suggestions?

Reaching Out to the College Community


I believe that Democratic organizations, progressive groups and labor unions need to increase their outreach efforts aimed at American colleges and universities. Campuses provide a very large percentage of campaign volunteers. They are the source of nearly all future opinion-makers including journalists, book authors, officeholders, business leaders and policy experts!

Generating a better understanding of progressive policies and politics early can only strengthen the prospects for progressive change over the next few generations. Organizing potential activists while in college and educating them should not be an “on and off” effort centered around Presidential election cycles.

The effort should not rely on students seeking out organizations like the College Democrats, ACLU or the AFL-CIO. The organizations should be seeking out students to engage with in a systematic way. Civil Liberties groups, environmentalists, civil rights organizations, campaign reform advocates, peace groups, human rights activists, etc should all be mounting issue awareness campaigns, recruiting and organizing activities on almost every American campus.

Professional marketing and promotional services devoted to the college market are available. I own and manage College which offers a diverse mix of public relations, advertising and promotional services.

As host of Democratic Talk Radio and Editor of Mid-Atlantic, I understand the progressive political community. I want to see it effectively reach the vast majority of American college students with our messages.

If you represent a progressive organization or labor union, I might be able to help you grow your exposure on college campuses locally, regionally or nationally. We can promote the growth of organizations. We can help potential candidates get their campaign messages to college students and academics.

We can promote issue advocacy messages. Trade policy, healthcare, labor laws, the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting, clean elections, taxation, employment, poverty, energy policy, foreign policy and almost any specific policy position can benefit from postering college bulletin boards, distributing flyers or placing ads in college newspapers with targeted messages. Many more customized creative public relations efforts can be executed by College

We can increase traffic to blogs and political web sites. We can help drive book sales or subscriptions to progressive magazines or newpapers. We can promote music and movies with progressive content. We can motivate students to lobby.

You will not have to rely on volunteers who may or may not properly execute your projects. Your professional staff will not be diverted from their other important activities. You will have professional expertise with decades of experience in reaching the college community with advertising, promotional and public relations campaigns.

Your effort can reach a large number of campuses if desired or be scaled much smaller based solely on your needs. All of our efforts are customized to meet your specific campaign needs. Costs will usually be very, very reasonable.

Please call me at 443-907-2367 or email me at to discuss your needs and how we can help meet them.

In solidarity,

Stephen Crockett

Here’s How to Buy American-made Tires


Dear Stephen S. Crockett,

Last week the United Steelworkers sent out a press release about the filing of a major trade case against the flood of imported consumer tires from China that have led to thousands of job losses and a growing number of plant closings throughout the U. S. and in Canada.

In response to this news, many of you have asked how you can be sure that you are buying union-made, American or Canadian tires. Below is the information you seek, so be sure to look at the sidewall of the tires for the DOT codes. And thank you for asking!




The U.S. Department of Transportation requires that all tires sold in the United States carry a code which shows, among other things, the company and plant that made the tire. The code would look like this: DOT BE XX XXX XXX (where the X’s stand in for numbers and/or letters that are not part of the plant ID code)

The two symbols (either two letters or a letter and a number) which follow “DOT” indicate the company and the plant where a tire was manufactured. For example, the above code indicates a tire made by B. F. Goodrich in Tuscaloosa, AL. The following is a listing of U.S. unionized tire DOT codes. By comparing this list to the code on the tire you are buying, you can be certain you are getting a USW-made tire.

Look for the following codes for union-made tires made in the United States: AN, BE, BF, CC. DA, DY, D2, E3, JJ, JE, JF, JN, JT, JP, MP, PL, MC, MD, MJ, MK, MM, PJ, PY, PT, PU, TA, UP, UT, VE, W1, YE, YU, Y7, 2C, 2M, 3M, 4D, 5D, and 8B.

Codes for tires made at the Goodyear plant in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada include: JU, PC and UK.

In addition to company brands, these codes will also appear on “Associate Brand” and “Private Brand” tires manufactured at the USW-represented plants. The key, then, to being sure of getting a USW-made tire is the DOT code. Be sure and check it with this listing.

Tell Obama to stand with American auto workers and retirees!


Dear Stephen Crockett,


Once again, it’s time for all of us to stand up for active and retired U.S. auto workers. Please contact President Obama today at 1 (202) 456-1414, or send him an e-mail via

The Obama administration has established tight deadlines for the restructuring of Chrysler and General Motors. For the federal government to provide additional assistance to the automakers, the restructuring of Chrysler must be completed by the end of April, and the General Motors restructuring must be completed by the end of May.

The UAW is actively involved in the complex restructuring negotiations, which involve the Obama auto task force, Chrysler and GM management, Fiat, bondholders and secured lenders, dealers, parts suppliers, and other stakeholders. These negotiations will have a major impact on wages and benefits for active and retired UAW members.

UAW members, friends, families and supporters can speak up by calling the White House at 1 (202) 456-1414, or sending an e-mail via

We need President Obama and his auto task force to stand up for the interests of workers and retirees in these restructuring negotiations. Please call or e-mail President Obama right away on this critically important issue. Tell him to insist that workers and retirees must be treated in a fair and equitable manner in any restructuring plans!

Again, you can call the President at 1 (202) 456-1414. Or you can send an e-mail to the White House Web site at

Thanks in advance for your efforts on this priority issue.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is my email sent to President Obama:

” The President needs to act to save the American auto industry without punishing American auto workers or retirees.

The biggest contibutor to this current mess has been free trade without universal healthcare. Whatever it takes to keep the Big Three functioning should be done while you correct this insane trade-healthcare policy error!

How are American manufacturing going to compete with foreign companies when our companies are saddled with healthcare costs while foreign companies benefit from governments paying healthcare costs for employeees, retireees and their families?”

Steelworkers Standing Strong for “Buy American”


Steelworkers Standing Strong for “Buy American”

Sisters and Brothers,

One month ago this week our union launched the “Make Our Future Work” campaign. To date, over 300 Buy American resolutions have been introduced! Click HERE to find out if one has been passed in your city/county/State.

The goal of this campaign is to have our State and Local Legislators, Policy Makers, and Elected Officials commit, in writing, to the following in regards to their oversight of the monies allocated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Resolution Commitments, in Brief:

Work to maximize the creation of American jobs and restoring economic growth and opportunity by spending economic recovery plan funds on products and services that both create jobs and help keep Americans employed; to
Commit to purchasing only products and services that are made or performed in the United States of America whenever and wherever possible with any economic recovery monies provided by the American people; and,
Commit to publish any requests to waive these procurement priorities so as to give American workers and producers the opportunity to identify and provide the American products and services that will maximize the success of our nation’s economic recovery program.
While the Reinvestment Act does include a “Buy American” clause, it does not require a public registry of how these monies are spent. This means that your tax dollars could be spent on Chinese steel to build the new bridge in your community, and you wouldn’t even know it.

Join the USW’s “Make Our Future Work” campaign, and make sure that your tax dollars are not spent overseas!

CLICK HERE to download a legal-sized version of the MOFW Resolution, OR,
CLICK HERE for a standard 8.5×11-sized, two-page version

CLICK HERE for the Resolution Action Steps, and HERE for the Tracking Form.

If you have any questions about the MOFW campaign or the Resolution, call 1-866-836-5103 or email

U.S. steel industry urges “buy America” recovery plan


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The ailing U.S. steel industry is pressing President-elect Barack Obama for a public works plan that could be worth $1 trillion over two years to boost flagging demand for U.S.-made steel, the New York Times reported in Friday’s editions.

Daniel DiMicco, chairman and chief executive of Nucor Corp, a giant steel maker, told the paper the industry was asking the incoming administration to “deal with the worst economic slowdown in our lifetime through a recovery program that has in every provision a ‘buy America’ clause.”

The industry supports building mass transit systems, bridges, electric power grids, schools, hospitals and water treatment plants ## all of which would require large amounts of steel.

“We are sharing with the president-elect’s transition team our thoughts in terms of the industry’s policy priorities,” Nancy Gravatt, a spokeswoman for the American Iron and Steel Institute, was quoted as saying.

Obama, who is to be sworn in as president on January 20, has not revealed details of his soon-to-be-announced plan for spurring the weakest economy since the Great Depression more than 70 years ago. Aides have indicated most of the package will probably go into infrastructure spending rather than tax breaks.

“If the president-elect really follows through, he’ll fund a lot of mass transit projects,” said Wilbur Ross, a Wall Street dealmaker who put together a steel conglomerate known as Arcelor Mittal USA.

“All the big cities have these projects ready to go.”

Since September, U.S. steel output has plunged about 50 percent to its lowest point since the 1980s, largely because construction and auto production have fallen sharply.

The fall-off in production of appliances, machinery and other electrical equipment has also reduced steel orders, sending the price of a ton of steel down by half since late summer.

Industry executives are “adding their voices to pleas for a huge public investment program of up to $1 trillion over two years,” the Times reported.

Imports, which account for about 30 percent of all steel sales in the United States, are also hurting as customers disappear, the paper said.

(Reporting by Jim Wolf; editing by Todd Eastham)

TOYS MADE in America


In response to my column, Buying American-made Toys, I was sent this link. Labor leaders need to add this link to all our websites and newsletters.

DEB KOZIKOWSKI provided the link. Here is some information from the Rural website about her:

“A former elementary educator, Deb serves as CAP Chair for the National Writers Union, United Auto Workers, Local 1981. She has broad background as a business and technical writer and small business consultant as well as a long career in real estate. In 2004 she served as liaison between the Kerry Campaign and Rural Leaders for Kerry and was a co-founder of the DNC’s Rural Working Group. A lifelong resident of western Massachusetts, Deb currently serves as Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and is a member of the Executive Board of the Association of State Democratic Chairs.”

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Another link.

American Made Toys

Buying American-made Toys


Buying American-made Toys

I did not buy any toys for the many children in my life this year. Admittedly, money was very tight after the economy collapsed from eight years of Republican mismanagement. However, the main reason I did the scrooge thing this Christmas is that I simply refused to buy Chinese made toys for the American children I love so dearly.

The American children I love so dearly need to inherit, from all of us, a nation with a strong manufacturing base. These children need to grow up in an economy that will pay good wages to all our citizens and that actually makes things. Buying cheap junk made in third world nations for Christmas presents is not doing these children any favors.

I cannot understand why no American toy companies are making toys in America. Obviously, the greed of the corporations and American governmental trade policy has combined to destroy toy manufacturing in this nation. If both our corporate leaders and government officials cannot change their behaviors and start making toys in America, we should boycott completely imported toys and change our elected leaders at the first opportunity.

Making toys in low wage nations does fatten the bottom line of corporations at the expense of the future of the American economy. It helps pay the outrageously bloated salaries of corporate CEO’s but actually does little to reduce the cost to consumers. It often means shoddy and unsafe toys are being given to our children. The corporate CEO’s need to curb their greed and start thinking about the future of the American economy!

One of the first things we can do, starting right after the beginning of the New Year, is to visit as many retail stores as possible and file written complaints about the non-availability of American-made toys this past Christmas. Every Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target and toy store in America should be getting hundreds or thousands of complaints from patriotic Americans. We owe it to our children to demand that the toys that we buy for them actually contribute to a better future for them when they become working adults.

Imported toys do not contribute to a better future for today’s children. They do not contribute tax revenues to provide healthcare and better schools in the way American-made toys do. They do not provide decent paying jobs for their parents in the way American-made toys do. They are certainly not as safe as American-made toys.

American-made toys help pay the national debt and reduce the trade imbalance with foreign nations by reducing imports. American-made products help build the American economy. They help pay for our police forces, emergency services and military.

Retailers who do not sell American-made toys should be boycotted. Toy companies who do not manufacture toys in America should be boycotted. Toy imports should be taxed heavily. Imported, cheaply-made, often unsafe toys are not in the national interest. Our governmental policies should reflect clearly that reality.

Toy companies need to hear from consumers that Americans want to buy toys made in America. I urge consumer groups, labor unions, church groups, political activists and patriotic individuals to organize efforts to get this message to the toy companies. Our political leaders need to hear the same message.

We can all circulate petitions at work and in our communities. We can all write members of Congress and President Obama. We can write our local newspapers, blog on the Internet and call radio stations. A little picketing of toy stores, Wal-Marts, corporate headquarters of toy companies and Congressional field offices might help us deliver the message that American-made toys are one of the many changes we need to make in the American economy.

I will certainly be talking about this subject on my Democratic Talk Radio program in 2009. I hope other patriotic talk radio hosts regardless of ideology will join in these efforts along with writers and grassroots political activists. We owe it to the children of America.

Greedy, unpatriotic corporations should not be forcing me or you to choose between disappointing the children we love or being unpatriotic consumers mortgaging the economic future of those same children. We are willing to buy American.

The challenge to Wall Street and corporate America is simply stated, “Are you willing to manufacture and sell us the American-made products we want to buy?” Those companies smart enough to accept the challenge will certainly have a ready and willing market of patriotic Americans who love our children.

Written by Stephen Crockett (Host of Democratic Talk Radio and Editor of Mid-Atlantic . Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Phone: 443-907-2367.

Feel free to publish or reproduce without prior approval.

Local Representative introduces “Buy American” resolution


September 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Local Representative introduces “Buy American” resolution


REGION, August 27th- The Pennsylvania House of Representatives have adopted a resolution urging Pennsylvanians to purchase United States saving bonds and to buy products made in the United States and in the Commonwealth.

Democratic State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski, 121st Legislative District, a union member, introduced the resolution to draw attention to how Pennsylvanians can improve the value of the dollar and the economy by investing in the state and the country. Mr. Pashinski feels an injection of capital by residents into the national and state economies could help restore our previous level of financial health.

“Whenever social crises have threatened this country and state, it has been the groundswell of public support that allowed us too overcome them. People rallying to each other’s aid does more for the morale of their communities than government actions can. That’s why I’m urging to take a more active part in the financial distress our nation is in today by buying American and buying Pennsylvanian,” said Mr. Pashinski, who was elected to represent the 121st Legislative District in Harrisburg in 2006.

Mr. Pashinski added global expansion over the last decade has resulted in the loss of jobs for millions of Pennsylvanias and Americans. And consumers buying American made products can help the country and fellow Americans.

Representative Chris Carney introduces made in America legislation


August 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Representative Chris Carney introduces made in America legislation


August 3rd- Christopher Carney, Democratic United States Representative 10th Congressional District, introduced the bipartisan “Made in America Act” which will create tax cuts to support American companies that keep their jobs and businesses “made in America.”

Mr. Carney is serving his second year of a two-year term in Washington. He is being challenged in the November 4th election by Republican candidate Chris Hackett, who operates a Luzerne County job agency which specializes in finding nonunion workers for employers.

“We live in the greatest country in the world, and we know that America must stay competitive in the global market. We currently have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world at thirty-five percent. We need tax cuts for jobs and businesses that are made in America. That is why the made in America Act commissions a study to determine ways to stop our younger generation from leaving our rural areas for larger cities,” said Mr. Carney.

Mr. Carney defeated incumbent Republican Congressman Don Sherwood in the 2006 election despite only around 38 percent of the district is registered Democratic.

Mr. Carney received most of the labor organization endorsements during the 2006 campaign and promised to support labor’s agenda while serving in the House of Representatives.

Voting to raise the federal minimum wage in January 2007 was the first opportunity Mr. Carney had to vote in favor of labor legislation. The House of Representatives voted 315 to 116 in favor of raising the minimum wage.

On July 24th the minimum wage increased to $6.55 per hour. The increase was the second of three provided by the enactment of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. A third minimum wage increase to $7.25 an hour will become effective on July 24th, 2009.

“I hear from families across northeast and central Pennsylvania that more needs to be done to prevent the brain drain in rural and small town America,’ said Mr. Carney about his introduced legislation.

The Made in America Act reinstates the Research and Development tax credit that expired in December 2007, and makes it permanent.

Mr. Carney voted in favor of passage of the organize union supported “Employee Free Choice Act” (EFCA) in 2007. The legislation would replace how union representation elections are conducted in workplaces with a “card check” system. Congress passed the legislation 241-185 but it failed in the United States Senate.

The legislation will likely be re-introduced in 2009.

Union Web Sites that can help you buy union-made products


(Formerly Union Jean Company) Clothing Clothing Miscellaneous Clothing Leather Jackets
(All Jackets Made in USA, Schott Jackets are Union Made) Promotional Items – Bumper Stickers, Buttons, Pens, Etc. Air, Hotel, Car, Cruises Miscellaneous Miscellaneous Watches, Clothing, Clocks, Etc. Clothing, Specialty Items, Promotional Items Specializing in IAFF Products

Union Retail Stores
Greater Lehigh Valley Area

Wines & Spirits Shoppes Rite-Aid Super Fresh Shop-Rite Strauss Auto
Mailroom Copy & Print Center

T.J. Maxx Distribution Centers are Union, Retail is Not

Do Not Shop!

Wal-Mart Sam’s Club

Union Web Sites

• Bakery Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) Food Products

• UNITE-HERE (UNITEHERE) Textiles, Hotels, Casinos, Etc.

• International Association of Machinists (IAM) Motorcycles, Miscellaneous

• United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Retail, Miscellaneous

• International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Truck Drivers, UPS, Misc.

• United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1776 (UFCW 1776) Eastern Pennsylvania


• Change to Win

If you cannot find a Union Made product, please contact me at 610-217-5123 or at

In Solidarity,

James S. Schlener
IAFF Local 735
UFCW 1776
Lehigh Valley CLC. VP.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Call me at 443-907-2367 if you need a union printer. Thanks, Stephen Crockett.

McCain Stiffs U.S. Workers, Helps Europeans Win Air Tanker Deal


McCain Stiffs U.S. Workers, Helps Europeans Win Air Tanker Deal

by James Parks, Mar 12, 2008

AFL-CIO Blog link

At a time when American jobs are disappearing and our manufacturing base is being decimated, working people are outraged that Republican presidential nominee John McCain played a key role in the Bush Defense Department’s decision to award one of our largest military contracts to a foreign company.

Had Boeing been awarded the air tanker deal, it would have supported at least 44,000 new and existing jobs in the United States, many of them good union jobs, and more than 300 suppliers in 40 states. But now only a few thousand lower-paying nonunion jobs will be created. (Click here to send a message to your representatives in Congress, urging them to overturn this decision .)

The DOD announced Feb. 29 the awarding of a $40 billion to $100 billion contract for the construction of Air Force refueling tankers to Northrop Grumann and the European firm EADS, which makes the Airbus. Defense expenditures are supposed to comply with federal Buy American Law provisions, which require purchasing certain products from American companies when possible. But this administration has granted more waivers of the Buy American provisions than any administration in history.

Time magazine reports that McCain has been a “key figure” in the Pentagon’s attempt to complete the tanker deal. According to the news magazine, McCain wrote letters and pushed the Pentagon to change the bidding process so that Airbus’s government subsidies could not be considered when deciding to whom to award the contract. This placed Boeing, which receives no subsidies, at a clear disadvantage and conflicted with U.S. trade policy. In fact, the U.S. currently has a complaint before the World Trade Organization (WTO) charging unfair trade practices resulting from Airbus’s illegal subsidies.

Time also reveals that two current advisers to McCain worked on the deal for Northrop and EADS as lobbyists. They gave up their lobbying jobs when they came to work for McCain’s campaign, but a third lobbyist, former Rep. Tom Loeffler (R-Texas), lobbied for EADS while serving as McCain’s national finance chairman. Click here to read the Time article.

To top it off, reports that McCain received $28,000 in contributions from EADS’s American employees, including CEO Ralph Crosby, Senior VP Sam Adcock and lobbyists representing EADS.

This is the third time in three weeks it has been reported that McCain was involved in highly questionable conduct that belies his claim to be a crusader for integrity. Newsweek and The Washington Post reported that McCain pressured the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to vote on an application to buy a TV station submitted by Paxson Communications at the same time McCain was flying on Paxson’s corporate jet and accepting tens of thousands in campaign contributions.

The media also pointed out that McCain weighed in on behalf of Glencairn Ltd, a client of one of his lobbyist friends, to urge the FCC to abandon efforts to close a loophole that was “vitally important” to Glencairn business. Click here to read the Newsweek article and here for the Washington Post story.

Machinists (IAM) District 751 President Tom Wroblewski says U.S. taxpayers deserve a better deal.

Now with this decision, America has to rely on a foreign country to defend our nation. This is wrong! And we will not stand silent on this issue. This is an unjustified gamble, which puts our armed services at risk. U.S. taxpayers shouldn’t be lining the pockets of Europeans.

Tom Buffenbarger, president of IAM, says working people will fight “tooth and nail and get this decision overturned.”

How we could turn over the crown jewel of support for our nation’s Air Force to foreign manufacturers is beyond me. We’re going to see that America gets what it deserves in the form of economic justice and fairness for American workers.

Gregory Junemann, president of International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), says:

By turning our backs on American workers, we have certainly missed a prime opportunity to reinvest American taxpayer dollars in our own workforce. Our tax dollars are still at work, but in this circumstance, they are working to the benefit of foreign workers, not U.S. workers.

IAM and IFPTE combined represent 55,000 workers at Boeing.

The stakes in the bidding were high. Boeing would have performed much of the tanker work in Everett, Wash., and Wichita, Kan., and used Pratt & Whitney engines built in Connecticut. The company said the contract would have supported at least 44,000 new and existing family-supporting union jobs at Boeing.

The Northrop-Airbus proposal calls for converting new Airbus passenger jets, currently built in Toulouse, France, into tankers. Northrop said the planes will be constructed of European components that will be shipped to this country and assembled in a yet-to-be-built plant in Alabama, a so-called right-to-work state, resulting in far fewer U.S. jobs. In states with such laws, the average pay for workers is 15 percent less than in states where workers have rights to bargain contracts (including wages and benefits).

Richard Spevak, a member of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace/IFPTE Local 2001 (SPEEA) in Wichita, speaks for many working people when he says:

I’m so mad I could spit. As an American taxpayer and worker, this is the most blatantly stupid thing our government has done.. Most of the jobs in this will be in a foreign country when it could be done here by Americans. I feel truly betrayed by the U.S. government. Also consider this: How safe are we when major military equipment has to come from outside the country clear across the ocean?

SPEEA members played a big role in designing the Boeing tanker.

Workers in Washington state and Wichita weren’t the only losers. Dominic DiFrancesco, former national commander of the American Legion, wrote in the Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot:

For Pennsylvania, the stakes couldn’t be greater. The federal Base Realignment and Closing Commission’s decision to close a number of military facilities here will eliminate nearly 2,000 military and civilian jobs. On the other hand, we have a number of respected aeronautics companies in the state that would become subcontractors to Boeing if it wins the bid. We’re talking about preserving and growing hundreds of jobs.

The Downwithtyranny blog says the extent to which workers reject the policies of McCain were highlighted in yesterday’s strong worker support for the Democratic winner in the special congressional election in Indiana on Tuesday over a McCain-backed Republican. André Carson’s victory was a referendum on “McBush.”

Shipping American jobs overseas may be someone’s idea of “free trade,” but it doesn’t go over outside of the board rooms. When McCain bragged about having been instrumental in denying an immense new contract to Boeing for refueling planes and helping the European Aeronautics Defense and Space Co. (EADS) get it instead, there was outrage from union halls to the halls of Congress over the impact on U.S. jobs, prestige and national security.

On Monday, Boeing said it will formally challenge the decision. The company said it will ask the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to review the contract award.

SPEEA President Cynthia Cole says:

I am very disappointed for our members and all employees at Boeing. I’m surprised the Air Force chose an unproven technology and an inferior product for this important program that supports the men and women in our armed forces.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger says his union supports Boeing’s decision to challenge the award:

Instead of buying a tested refueling tanker, made in America by American workers, the Air Force is proposing to spend billions of our tax dollars on an untested plane, to be built by a government-subsidized European consortium.

UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the union’s Aerospace Department, notes that neither EADS nor Northrop Grumman has ever built a tanker with a refueling boom. Boeing, on the other hand, has been building refueling tankers for the U.S. military for more than 75 years.

New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech called the decision “unexplainable and reckless.”

I am shocked by the Air Force’s intent to move the manufacturing of military aircraft to foreign soil, giving other countries the ability to slow down our military capacity, especially during a time of war and the necessity of heightened security.

In a statement issued during its March 4–6 meeting in San Diego, the AFL-CIO Executive Council called for Congress to “do its job and exercise closer oversight of the relations between the Defense Department and foreign contractors.” In particular, the council said Congress should “defund” the contract, as well as conduct a full investigation into the circumstances under which the contract was awarded to a foreign contractor.

The Executive Council also urged all the presidential candidates to condemn the contract and call for it to be overturned. Click here to read the council statement, “Offshoring America’s Economic And National Security.”