- Created: Wednesday, 22 September 2010 16:42
Did you know that 83% of products recalled over the last year were foreign made? The overwhelming majority of these recalls were against Chinese-made goods. In recent years toxic Chinese dog food has painfully killed 3600 American dogs and cats. 81 American citizens were killed by a Chinese blood thinner before it was recalled. In 2007, 25 million children's toys manufactured in China were recalled due to toxic amounts of lead. Lead poisoning in children can result in permanent brain damage and organ failure.
What are we doing as a society in exposing our most vulnerable to toxic products?
Many Americans may not be familiar with the concept of "saving face" in traditional Chinese culture. "Saving face" is avoiding social disgrace and it is very important for the Chinese. In fact, during the Great Leap Forward in the 1950's up to as many as 45 million Chinese starved to death in part due to leaders of agricultural collectives refusing to admit that they had not met their quota. Instead to save face they gave all their grain away to the government... leading to the starvation of the entire collective.
Though a great deal has changed in the last 50 years in China, the concept of saving face remains strong. If factory manager is behind on his quota or his budget, what is to keep him from using inferior quality or even toxic materials to meet his numbers in order to save face? Nothing.
Remember, these recalls of toxic and dangerous goods do not happen the day they arrive in the United States. Sometimes it takes the death of 3600 pets or the poisoning of hundreds of children before a product is taken off the shelf. Why take that chance?
American-made, union-made products are not only better for the economy and the environment, but they're safer for your family. Unions are committed to quality and safety. Though many scoff at union rules, they are there to create a safer, non-toxic work environment which is not only better for workers, it's better for you and your family.
Next time you're shopping do the right thing for yourself, your country and your family: Buy American. Buy union.
Through all this union car shopping, sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Like most people, if a friend tells me how amazing something is, I'm interested. It usually takes an extraordinary piece of advertising to raise my interests. But even then advertising doesn't seal the deal. If it did, I'd be driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee right now.
I've been hearing a lot of buzz recently about the Ford Fusion. I must have had five people tell me that they love the car including a very tech-savvy friend who has for years looked down his nose at American cars. It was time for me to look at a Ford. I was practically sold on the Fusion before I was sure what the new model even looked like.
In fact, Ford has done a good job of rebranding itself over the last few years. They were the only company of the American Big Three not to take bailout money and their new CEO, Alan Mulally, has developed a reputation of driving Ford towards a long-term commitment to quality. Sure enough, when I researched Ford at Car and Driver and Consumer Reports, their quality was ranked as high as Toyota's and the Fusion had very positive reviews. I went down to a local Ford dealership practically ready to sign the contract right there and then.
After some discussion with the salesman on how much Ford had improved their products, I decided to take a drive in the Fusion S-a four cylinder version, but still with 175 horsepower, which is not bad. I sat down and I could see Ford CEO Alan Mulally's influence immediately (he served previously as the CEO of Boeing). It did have the look of a jet's cockpit. Very cool.
Driving the Fusion around the block... something was missing. Yes, the ride was smooth. Yes, it handled well. Yes, it was an Insurance Institute of Highway Safety Top Safety Pick (even though it didn't feel nearly as solid as the Chevy Malibu). But something was missing. I don't know what it was, but I just didn't find myself developing the same enthusiasm I had for the other cars I have so far tried out.
You have to understand, I was so ready to love this car. I wanted to love this car still, even after the test drive was over. After stepping out, I walked up to the sticker in the rear window looking for that crucial selling point:
33 miles to the gallon highway? Very nice.
$21,000 list. Affordable. I can live with that.
Factory of manufacture: Hermosillo, Mexico. WHHHHAAAAT!?!?!?
I knew something was wrong!
I frantically checked http://www.lalabor411.com/ and, yup, there it wasn't: The Ford Fusion was not included on the list. Argh.
I cannot believe that I almost let my friends talk me into buying a non-union made car, but a non-union car made in Mexico. I really dodged a bullet on that one. At least my gut knew it wasn't right!
Maybe it's time to start looking more at SUV's-UNION-MADE SUV's. But this time I'm checking the UAW list of union-made cars first.
Sometimes advertising really hits a nerve. In my search for an American union-made car, I've found most car ads have not been that helpful or informative. But Jeep recently put out a commercial that summarized so much of what LA Labor 411 supports. It talked about how once we as a nation defined ourselves by what we made. Now, we're defined by what we consume. Its message: "it was time to return to the basics," impressed me enough that I decided to look into a Jeep Grand Cherokee as an option.
It’s amazing how inundated we are with advertising, but we’re not necessarily any clearer on what is the best product for us to buy. I can’t count how many American car commercials and advertisements I see in a week, on TV, on billboards and in the newspaper. Still, there’s not much in these commercials about quality (not enough at least), even less about buying American, and nothing on the importance of supporting the middle class by buying union.
Imagine a world in which every person spent their money ethically. That is a world without poverty-a cleaner, better, more positive world. The truth is that in these fast immediate times we often don't think of how our buying habits really affect the way the world works. When you purchase a good or service, you are rewarding the way that a company does business. So, it's not just a thing you're buying when you spend your money. You're also buying into the system which supports providing that good or service... like it or not.
When a person buys union they are investing in the American Dream. They are supporting businesses that support American workers and their ability to live a fruitful life.
Purchasing a product from Communist China or another Third World nation with dubious human rights records? Not so much. Think about that the next time you buy something. Ask yourself, “Who am I supporting with this purchase?”
Last week, I decided it was about time that, as a union-activist, I stop driving around in a non-union Volvo and buy myself an American union-made car.
My first reaction as I began researching union-made cars was surprise.
Recently Fox News was at it again talking about how unions create problems for American businesses and, in particular, how unions are destroying the American economy.
Now let’s contrast this with some reality...
One of our writers here at LA Labor 411 spent a summer working in an elastomeric roof coating factory in Twinsburg, Ohio. Though he was hired as a temporary worker, it was a union factory. His job, like for many people in the factory, was to pick up a 45 pound container off the line and stack it on a palette six feet away every four seconds… for eight hours a day... in a factory that was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit with 85% humidity and filled with chemical vapors... each day... every day.
I’ve been deeply involved with supporting the union movement in Southern California and around the country for over 15 years now. It’s what I do and a cause I firmly believe in.
Starting in 2008 my company began partnering with the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor in what I felt was a very important endeavor - publishing a yellow pages for the union movement so it would be easy for members and other activists on the front line to find good quality union-made products. LA Labor 411 was born – the first directory for union goods and services.