College is a place where young minds come to be filled with grand ideas of worldly importance. Where intellect is sharpened and individuals are molded to enter the world as working adults. Unfortunately, in recent years, a college degree that once gave you a leg up from the competition, now merely keeps you afloat in the drowning American economy. Not too long ago, a college degree set you right into the job market with a good occupation and a fair wage. In this day and age, those that graduate college are not guaranteed anything of the sort.

“If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool.”

President Abraham Lincoln

Let’s be honest. I’m new to the labor movement and feel that as a reporter with a new beat, I have to tread lightly. I’ve read quite a few news stories on union activities and lots of information from the labor unions themselves, but finally I got a first-hand taste of that camaraderie that is so often touted on protest signs across the country.

I was assigned to interview union members about the value of union products for our Labor 411 directory at our recent Union Trade Show in September in Los Angeles. I was impressed. To a person, they responded with a genuine sense of caring for the cause, and for America.

There was a time when as a college student I saw picket lines and protests (and not just by union members) as little more than a photo op for certain causes. People waving signs simply because that was what they were told they needed to do to promote the movement; a kind of means to an end. This is the cynical attitude that often pervades my life and it was hard to believe any emotion other than anger drove such demonstrations.

LA Labor 411 blog: Voices of Wisdom
“Employers and employees alike have learned that in union there is strength, that a coordination of individual effort means an elimination of waste, a bettering of living conditions, and is in fact, the father of prosperity”.                                  -Franklin D. Roosevelt

After working on Labor 411 all summer and seeing all the hospitals that were unionized in the LA area, I noticed that the hospital I volunteer at is non-union. I decided to ask one of the nurses if the hospital had ever tried to unionize. My simple yes or no question turned into a long, emotional story.

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

– Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

My earliest memory of a picket line was back in 2003. I was 13. My mom, a registered nurse working for a health insurance company, decided to stock up on food before the grocery workers were to strike.

“Those who would destroy or further limit the rights of organized labor – those who would cripple collective bargaining or prevent organization of the unorganized – do a disservice to the cause of democracy.”

– President John F. Kennedy, Labor Day, 1960

Polarized opinions on organized labor and unions in our country today often leave newcomers to the forum confused about a subject that should not be so difficult to decipher. When I first started exploring the world of unions, I was sifting through a plethora of information and commentary from both sides championing their respective movements. Drowning among acronyms and legislative terminology that meant nothing to me, with both sides presenting arguments that pulled my morals this way and that, the question came down to this: Who do I really trust?

  • No worries! Here’s some fun tips to turn a would-be disaster into a fun Union Weekend

“Carmageddon”: the temporary closure of 10 miles of Interstate 405 for 53 hours this weekend in Los Angeles. Or as Stephen Colbert puts it, two off-peak days of increased traffic which means someone might have to walk someplace!

Despite predictions to the contrary, closing down the 405 will not stop your life, we promise. Think of it as just another weekend to experience all that L.A. has to offer…without having to drive. Not only is the event making us rethink our car-driven culture in the City of Angels, Carmageddon is actually a GOOD THING! It’s employing a lot of  people on this project … good middle class jobs that pay union wages and benefits. So let’s celebrate the hundreds of skilled union building trades members – particularly Laborers and Operating Engineers – who are working hard on the 405 make-over. Let’s show our support for them and our great city of LA by having a union weekend blowout!

Hello LA Labor 411 fans, We know that for the past few years, you’ve been dying to know the people behind the book. Really, who would want to spend countless hours back-checking and cross-checking the almost 3,000 entries that make up 411? Spend 6 hours a day updating search words for products and services on…

It’s been four months since I began my Buy Union! Challenge and it looks like I made it. Looking back over my little union-made adventure, I can say that it was an interesting mixture of joyful activism, annoyance, enlightenment and inconvenience. To be honest with you, I’m not a shopaholic – so it wasn’t like…

I was drawing a blank for Valentine’s Day this year. I hunted everywhere for ideas: I checked news papers, asked friends; heck, I even searched “things to do for Valentine’s Day” on Google – and came up with zip, nada, zilch. After more than an hour of frantic searching I realized that the solution was right in front of me: the new 2011 edition of LA Labor 411.


With two daughters, the Super Bowl isn’t the biggest attraction at our house, but my husband and I are both football fans (GO RAIDERS!) so each year we go to a friend’s house for a big Super Bowl party. I wasn’t even thinking about the day as part of my Buy Union! Challenge, but I did (of course) bring over union-made snacks and beer to share with everyone:  A large bag of Tostitos Artisan Recipes Fire-Roasted Chipotle Tortilla Chips (if you haven’t tried these, you should, they’re really good), a family-sized bottle of Pace Chunky Salsa, and a 12-pack of Bud Light.