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It looks like it’s time to switch from Ivory to Dove soap, Crest to Colgate, and from Godiva to See’s chocolates. Union brands first!

I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life as an activist in LA’s union community and I’ve never seen times as rough as this for our members and for working class families in general. All of the pain I’m seeing around me has got me thinking… a lot.

Did you know that 70% of the American economy is generated by consumer spending? That’s huge! This means that collectively how we, as average citizens, spend our money -- more than government or corporate spending -- is shaping the economy of the United States. And it’s not been a case of whether or not we’ve been spending (oh, we’ve been spending, believe you me!) it’s a matter of how we spend our money. As I look around my house, my garage, and my cupboards I realize that we have been spending our money frivolously on things produced in foreign countries. In the end, no good can come of it.

I recently finished the book A Year Without “Made in China” and it left me feeling a bit hollow and unsettled. My challenge isn’t about buying Chinese or non-Chinese. It’s about us and the choices we make as individuals. It’s really quite simple: We can make consumer choices that benefit society… and so ultimately come back to benefit us as individuals… OR we can make buying decisions that actually do us harm in the long run… and make our lives more painful.

For so long we consumers have purchased products thoughtlessly, just compelled to find the best bargain. Now I’ve got a garage filled with stuff I don’t use and the movement and country I love are falling apart around me.

I want to do something about this. Clearly I’ve been doing something with words (my business Senders Communications Group www.Sendersgroup.com has represented labor unions for 16 years now), but I need to start living my values on a personal level. As union activists, we swear an oath to buy union products and services. What good is that oath if we don’t abide by it? It needs to be union.

grocerystoreSo, it’s time for me to take the plunge. I started with buying my first American union-made car. But I’ve got to do more. So I’ve decided that for three months – from Oct. 7 – Jan. 7, I’m going to take the LA Labor 411 Buy Union! Challenge and buy union-made goods and services from union- retailers. I want to see how difficult (and rewarding) it will be.

I’ll be posting regular updates on this blog, so I hope you continue to follow my story. I’ll admit, I’m both excited and nervous about it, but it’s got to be done.

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