buying a carLast 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.

When I opened up to page 27 of LA Labor 411 , our guide to union-made products, I found a long list of UAW-made vehicles. From the classic American Cadillac to the trendy VW Routan van, the selection was far bigger and more varied than I’d imagined. There were even a few hybrids. I also found that several Japanese vehicles are union made in the United States, including the Toyota Corolla and the Mazda 6. (But, hello, Honda—where are you?)

My goal, though, was to buy from one of the big 3 American companies –GM, Ford or Chrysler – and see if all the hype about improved quality of American cars was real. Also, something didn’t feel right about buying a Japanese-designed vehicle even if it was made in the United States. If I’m going to do this, I want it to be as American and union as possible, from start to finish.

After a little online browsing, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get an SUV or sedan, but I did zero in on Jeep, Buick, Dodge, Chevy and Ford. They’re all coming out with innovations, and quality is going up, according to JD Power and Consumer Reports . Keep in mind, I have been driving a Volvo for five years. Yes, I want a reliable car, and it’s great to realize that car can be American.

Now it was time for every consumer’s favorite experience—calling auto dealerships.

Was I glad I had LA Labor 411 in front of me! Most of these dealers didn’t have a clue. Asking for a “union-made car” was like asking them for $10,000 off MSRP. Not gonna happen. Not a single one of them could rattle off a model at the drop of a hat, although they tried their best to keep me on the phone.

It was a little discouraging. I’d like to buy from someone who, like me, appreciates the heritage and the work that go into what they’re selling. Where oh where is a car dealer who actually cares about this? I’ll keep you updated and we’ll see where this takes us!

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