“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.

At long, long, long (LONG!) last we sent the 2011 edition of Los Angeles Labor 411 to the printers (LATE!) yesterday evening.

Of course we had to celebrate. So, right before we sent our files over to the printer, I sent one of my assistants out to buy some beer to toast our success. Being a bit of a beer snob, he returned with two six packs of Mad River Brewing Company’s Steelhead Extra Pale Ale and Steelhead Porter.

I almost fell over. I snapped at him, “You’re expecting us to toast the completion of LA Labor 411 with a microbrewery beer! That’s not union!”

My designer laughed, “What? You didn’t get Budweiser?”

My assistant looks at me like I’d lost my mind, {Keep in mind. It’s been two weeks of 14 hour days getting this directory finished. I’m the boss. I figure I’m entitled to lose my mind occasionally} and says matter-of-factly, “What are you talking about? It’s made by IAM.”

There’s serial killer on TV who happens to be named after my dog Dexter. As many of you know, my dog Dexter is a 100 percent union dog because we adopted him from the West Valley Animal Shelter, a city run facility with union employees.

Let me be clear, Dexter is not a serial killer nor does he play one in our household. Yes, he has put a big hole in our dog food budget (thankfully I can buy union-made dog food!), but he’s really just a loveable lug. Recently, though, we’ve been having problems with Dexter – he keeps throwing up in the house. We think it’s because he’s eating too much junk. He has a bad habit of finding weird stuff on the street when we take him on walks and gobbling it down before we can stop him. I’ve scheduled a check-up with the vet next week and, no, it won’t be a unionized veterinarian. Sorry, no such thing (yet!), so, I’ll have to take a pass on the Buy Union! challenge on this particular issue.