Putting My Values to the Test – My Dog Dexter is Not a Serial Killer

crazy-dogThere’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.

Putting My Values to the Test – Shipping My Daughter Back to College

Union-Station-LAThe holidays were over and it was time to ship my daughter back to college in Santa Barbara. She’d never been on a train before and her birthday is coming up soon, so I decided to book her a ticket online instead on Amtrak (unionized) as a gift. The round trip ticket cost me around $50 – which is a pretty good deal when you consider driving there and back would run me around 18 gallons of gas. At today’s insane prices that would have come to about $63, maybe more depending on where you buy (actually it shocks me every time I go to the pump. I look up at the price and think, “Really? REALLY?” Urgh.)

Putting My Values to the Test – Let’s Keep This Thing Going!

Busy_MomIt’s been three months since I first began the Buy Union! challenge. To be honest, a part of me was dreading the challenge because I wasn’t sure I could do it.  Like most of us, I had become relatively thoughtless about how I spent my money — even while publishing a Buy Union! directory:  Los Angeles Labor 411. The thought of re-arranging my life was a bit intimidating, especially considering how busy I am as a working mom. I’ve got a lot on my plate… no less than when I started  the Buy Union! challenge.

But you know what? Sure it’s been inconvenient at times, but change is often less about stopping something than it is about starting something new—creating new habits. And Stressed_Out_SignsI’ve done that. I’ve practically memorized our directory.  I read the labels before I buy. I pass by stores like Target and go to stores like Vons, Albertsons and Ralphs and Rite Aid. Easy. (Well, not always easy, but you know what I mean.)

So I think I’ve gotten the hang of this Buy Union! challenge and since I’ve bent the rules a bit here and there (just a bit, mind you!), I think I’m going to extend this challenge a couple weeks until we unveil the 2011 print edition of Los Angeles Labor 411 — the hardcopy version of www.lalabor411.com. This is huge.99.498571the third year of its publication and it feels a bit anti-climactic to just call off the Buy Union! challenge when we’ve been working so hard on putting together the print edition for months now. A couple additional weeks won’t hurt — actually it will help support more good-paying American jobs and that’s the reason why I’ve committed to this challenge in the first place. So I can live with some more challenge. It’s a good thing. (But as soon as this is over I’m going to sit myself down at a local restaurant and order me some good old fashioned Chinese food! I can’t wait! :)  )

So continue to check back over the next couple weeks. The challenge continues!

Putting My Values to the Test – Union Travel

Marriott_Marquis_SFSometimes I complete my Buy Union! challenge without even knowing it. That’s always a fun surprise – finding out certain things we do regularly are unionized. For instance, travel.

I had to fly to San Francisco on business recently with several members of the Senders Group team and I was delighted to find out the whole trip was union – from airport, to airlines, to car rental, to hotel, to luncheon. Wow! I hadn’t even thought of the trip as being part of my Buy Union! challenge, but it turned out it was. (Good job, Cherri!)

My company publishes half a dozen union newspapers, including one in San Francisco called Organized Labor for the SF Building Trades Council. In fact, Organized Labor is the second oldest labor newspaper in the United States (what an honor!), only being beat out by Labor World  from Duluth, Minnesota by four years. (I’m still trying to get past being beat by Duluth, Minnesota. I mean, really?)

John_ChiangJust as LA Labor 411 celebrates Los Angeles as a great union city, so too does Organized Labor honor the rich construction trades culture and history in a world-class city like San Francisco. Just this month, Organized Labor celebrated its 110th Anniversary as a newspaper and we held a luncheon in San Francisco featuring California State Comptroller John Chiang as our keynote speaker.

Bob-Hope-AirportFirst, we flew out of union-staffed Burbank Airport (named aptly after one of our most famous union members and union label supporter — Bob Hope) up to the unionized Oakland Airport on Southwest Airlines, again, all union . We rented a car from union-staffed Hertz to drive to the union San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel where we had a wonderful luncheon catered by Unite Here! members  as we discussed the history of the paper with our union friends and supporters and heard an inspired – if somewhat sobering – talk by Controller Chiang on the future of California’s economy in these bleak times.

The experience of traveling 100% union was a good reminder of how the best of so much of what we already do is union. The idea of having a “union travel experience” is one of our themes in the next edition of LA Labor 411 (2011 edition will be out very soon!). The fact is for a city like Los Angeles (and most great cities) there is a way one can experience that city in an almost entirely union fashion… from how you travel to where you stay to where you eat to what sites you visit… even what gasoline you fill up your car with.

Sure, a lot of the knickknacks, clothing and other small manufactured items we buy from everyone from CVS to Macy’s to Wal-Mart are now made in China. But as this experience has shown me, it’s still possible to live my values with much of the money I spend.

San_FranciscoTravel often provides the most memorable and enlightening experiences of a person’s life and that experience can be done in a way that is fully union… and so often that experience is the best possible way of first getting to know a city:  Union travel, union lodging, union tourism.
To sum it all up, the luncheon was delightful. We feel quite proud to be producing the second oldest labor newspaper in America, in part because we have been able to report for so long on how union members and union leaders have help craft San Francisco as one of the great world cities.

Here’s to another 110 years!


To view a list of unionized airlines, click here.

Putting My Values to the Test – Union Hangover

HangoverNo, this blog is not about the post-election hangover. (California actually did rather well, thank you very much. The rest of the country? Not so much.) This is an honest-to-goodness post New Year’s hangover, following a wild night out of drinking, dancing and partying up a storm. (Whoo hoo!!!!)

Okay. Maybe it wasn’t that wild, but I did get a little too much of my drink on with some labor and non-labor friends and my husband on New Year’s Eve. I was drinking America’s most Empty_Champagne_Bottlepopular brand -- Andre Brut (made right here in Modesto, California) -- and I may have had one drink too many because, let me tell you, I was paying for it the next morning.

You have no idea how annoying an energetic young daughter can be bounding down the stairs first thing in the morning, shouting, “I HAD SO MUCH FUN LAST NIGHT!!!” Yeah, yeah, me too. Now go away for four or five hours.

Anyhow, my daughter can’t help that she’s a young, vivacious woman who enjoys dancing to techno until four in the morning and I guess I can’t help that drinking four glasses of champagne makes my head feel like it’s being banged between two trash can lids and my daughter’s voice is doing the banging. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Alza-Seltzer_Hangover_AdSo, instead of grabbing my daughter by the ear and throwing her into our backyard pool, I decided to do the decent thing and blame the hangover and not her. I swallowed down a couple USW-made Alka-Seltzer Morning Relief tablets and you know what? I felt better. (Plop! Plop! Fizz! Fizz! Oh what a relief it is!) Within about fifteen minutes (fifteen LONG minutes) my daughter didn’t seem quite so annoying, which is how I like her. A couple of Advil  later on in the morning really did the trick. Next time I think I’ll stop at just three glasses of delicious union-made champagne.

Click here for a list of union-made medicines and personal products.

Putting My Values to the Test – Union New Year’s Celebration!

Champagne_PoppedLet’s face it. 2010 was a pretty tough year for most of us. Between the economy and everyone in the United States beyond the borders of California embracing the Tea Party’s mantra of blaming the unions for all their ills … it was a rough year and one that I’m glad to see go.

Still, if you’re always looking backwards you’re bound to run into a brick wall eventually, so as hope springs eternal I set off to celebrate a better 2011 as much wish 2010 a fond farewell. (It was nice knowing you! Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out!)

A part of me wants to pretend that I am still young and hip and outraged enough to have spent New Year’s Eve celebrating “Union Night” at some cool Hollywood night club or better yet storming the headquarters of Wal-Mart and dousing their offices with union-made champagne… but who am I kidding? I’m a married mother with two daughters, one of whom is already old enough to legally drink on her own.

So I played it safe and went to a party of my peers at a friend’s house to yak with some of my union and non-union buddies, drink perhaps a bit too much of bubbly (union-made of course!), and watch the ball drop Ravers_Uniteon television. It was a very lovely evening. Meanwhile, my daughter spent New Year’s dancing to techno at a mega-rave with 50,000 of her peers at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. I had to settle for vicariously re-experiencing my youth through her stories the next morning as we watched the Rose Bowl parade on TV together.

Dick_Clark_New_YearsSometimes, I realize, my daughter and I seem to live in different worlds, but it’s really more a separation of generations than anything else. In the end, our New Years eves were similar: We spent the evening celebrating with friends and loosening up with union-made alcohol. Me — drinking America’s favorite and oh-so-affordable UFCW-made Andre Brut champagne watching Dick Clark slur the countdown to a New Year (disturbing… really disturbing.) Her — drinking UAW-made Miller Light from a plastic cup while wearing a bizarre costume and bouncing to music louder than a jet engine composed by beings from outer space.

Snooki_Ball_DropAh… my daughter! We’re not so different you and I. {Sigh}

Anyhow, I had a good time and so did she. I guess that’s all that matters. It was a nice way to start out the New Year and I’m hoping 2011 is the year the economy turns around and the Democrats get back on track. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

Happy New Years, everyone!

Putting My Values to the Test - 99 Cent Store

imagesI decided to do an experiment. Since this Buy Union! challenge has started, it hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve been finding ways to save money. A lot of it has been buying what union-products I can find on sale and by using coupons. In fact, I got so excited during my research about finding so many coupons for union-made goods and being able to save all that money, I decided it would be a good idea to make it a regular feature on our www.LALabor411.org web site.

Putting My Values to the Test – GO Clippers?!?!?


Okay. I’ll admit it. My husband and I like the Clippers. You could almost call us fan. We buy tickets to at least one game every year.

I’m not a contrarian. I don’t root for the Clippers just because the Lakers are so dominant. I like the Lakers. I just can’t afford to go to their games.



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