Putting My Values to the Test – Shopping For Thanksgiving Dinner

Turkey_DinnerWith my Buy Union! Challenge I was afraid that Thanksgiving would be a nightmare, but I may have been over-thinking things. Actually, as I began to investigate my options, I was surprised to find that so many of the brands we grew up on that have helped define the most important meals of the year for many of us are union-made.  So when one of our family’s dear friends invited us over for Thanksgiving, I said yes, but with two conditions.

Putting My Values to the Test – Is It Really A Union Burger?


The most difficult part of my challenge so far has been lunch. Sure, there are plenty of union-staffed restaurants in Los Angeles, but none of them are anywhere near my office in the San Fernando Valley. I’m not the biggest girl in the world. A friend of mine once called me a hummingbird—that kind of suits me right because of my metabolism and my typical day is a whirlwind of activity. Between managing an office, running two newspapers, and dealing with an ever-changing number of union PR campaigns, I barely have time to think. My one quiet spot in the day for years has traditionally been stepping out and getting myself something to eat for lunch. Well, I can’t do that now unless I’m near downtown or Hollywood for the most part.

Putting My Values to the Test – Retail Shopping Failure

MacysI admit it. I like shopping. I’m a girl. What did you expect?  The problem is there aren’t a lot of retail stores that are unionized. An exception is Macy’s. Many Macy’s stores are UFCW represented. So, I found one and decided to have a few hours by myself.

I like Macy’s. Always have. I like their merchandise. I like the layout of their stores. I like their history.    I also particularly like that Macy’s has been active in the green movement. They were voted in the top 50 most green corporations in the 2009 Newsweek rankings  by adding solar power to many stores, using biodegradable packing products, and significantly expanding their “eco-friendly” product lines. We need more of that in this world.

Post Election Game Plan: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs + Buying Union

ivotedstickerWhile the rest of the country veered right on Nov. 2, California did what it always does best – it took the road less traveled. Democrats swept nearly all the top state offices, and may even squeak by to get Kamala Harris in office as Attorney General despite early predictions of losing that office to the GOP.

What makes California so different from the rest of the country? The list is a long one, but when it comes to politics, Californians seem to have the ability to separate truth from television. Despite the ridiculous amount of money that Meg Whitman spent to try to buy herself a political career (a record-breaking $140-million-plus of her own money), California voters weren’t taken in by her slick advertisements or the barrage of media that her dollars bought.

Putting My Values to the Test – Crime, Cops and Union Canines

Beagle_MixThe burglary was the last straw.

As I’ve mentioned before, my dog Daisy is an amazing athlete, but she’d been getting crazy cooped up in our backyard all be herself for long stretches at a time and she had stated snapping at people on walks. Finally, on the advice of friends, I began taking her to doggy day care a few days a week while I was at work so she could re-socialize herself and have more interaction with other canines. Good idea, right?  

Well, my house was broken into while my guard dog was enjoying a play date with her friends at the local vet. Great.

Putting My Values to the Test – Shopping for Pet Food

Purina_Pro_PlanMy dog Daisy is amazing. There’s no ball she can’t catch. We’re always entertaining our friends and neighbors with her astonishing athletic prowess. Daisy will plunge head first over the guard rail and down the hill on our property, retrieving the tennis balls with 95 percent accuracy.

We’ve had Daisy for three years now (we rescued her from the LA City Animal Shelter – all union city employees) and she never disappoints. But an athlete like that takes a lot of maintenance - and TLC. She’s just the latest addition to our pet menagerie. In addition to Daisy, we have two cats that our dog loves to chase around the backyard.

Putting My Values to the Test – LIVE BETTER – WORK UNION


Driving to work today, I got behind a large truck with a bumper sticker that immediately caught my eye. It wasn’t his GO RAIDERS! sticker. It was the proud and bold “LIVE BETTER - WORK UNION ” sticker. {Heck, yeah!} In the center of his bumper was his union sticker:  Operating Engineers Local 12. My kind of guy.

Putting My Values to the Test – Making it a Union Halloween

halloween-kidsWhen the phone rang late this afternoon, I could see it was my daughter calling. “Mom, don’t forget to pick up some Halloween candy on your way home!” I felt a sudden flush of anxiety. That same phone call a few weeks ago would have been a no-brainer. Stop at any grocery store and pick up a bag of whatever generic Halloween candy was on special. But now that I was doing the Union Challenge it wasn’t going to be so easy. What do I buy? Is there even any union-made candy? And where can I buy them?


I took a deep breath. I figured the Vons (UFCW) on my way home was a good place to start. I pulled into the parking lot, thinking of all the adorable trick-or-treaters that swarm across my block every Halloween, worried about what I could offer them this year that was union-made. But as I approached the candy aisle, my list from www.lalabor411.org in hand, I quickly realized this wasn’t going to be a difficult challenge at all. Taking a quick glance at the list, I found that both the United Food & Commercial Workers and the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers  (BCTGM) produce a lot of popular national brands candies and cookies.


Here are some:


  • Abba-Zaba Bar                      
  • Baby Ruth                              
  • Black & Red Licorice Vines
  • Boston Baked Beans (the candy!)          
  • Butterfinger                          
  • Carmello Bar
  • Chips Ahoy!                           
  • Clark Bar                                 
  • Crunch N’ Munch
  • Dolly Madison                       
  • Fifth Avenue Chocolate Bar  
  • Fig Newtons
  • Ghiradelli Chocolates                          
  • Godiva Chocolates                
  • Hot Tamales                           
  • Hershey Chocolate    
  • Hostess Products                   
  • Jawbreakers                            
  • Jelly Bellies
  • Jolly Ranchers                        
  • Malted Milk Balls                  
  • Mike and Ike’s                       
  • Nutter Butter                         
  • Oreo’s                                     
  • Russell Stover Candy
  • See’s Candy                           
  • Snackwells                             
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • York Peppermint Patties        
  • Zagnut

halloween-candyLooking over ALL these choices, I suddenly realized I had the luxury of deciding, “What should I buy?” In that moment, I realized that I was used to being a mindless consumer zombie when shopping. I’m sure I had contributed to companies that didn’t care about their workers or the communities where their factories were located, or worse yet, had even inadvertently supported companies guilty of human rights abuses at their factories overseas.


But not today. Today I was making thoughtful choices. Looking over all these choices of candy, I thought about my fellow union brothers and sisters who had made them, a lot of whom worked long hours to support their families, and who cared about the American Dream and a better life for their children. I also knew how important these buying decisions can be because Halloween sales can make or break a candy manufacturer’s balance sheet. And that profitability means whether or not they can hire more workers or extend workers hours… or have to cut them.


And as I dropped oversized bags of Tootsie Rolls and mini-Butterfingers bars and Mike and Ike’s candies into my basket I felt the warmth of knowing I was making a choice that in some small way was support a greater cause that I care about. It was the warm empowerment of choosing to do something good instead of just reacting to what was available to me. I was waking up from my zombie slumber.


I raised my fist in the air and chuckled, “Cherri Senders — union Consumerista!”I got me a few odd looks, but, hey, if you can’t have a little fun every once in a while, what’s the point, right? In any case, it’s one small victory and I might as well enjoy it.


Pulling into my driveway, my daughter met me at the car. “Mom! What did you get?” It’s funny how something as simple as candy brings out that innocent enthusiasm, even in jaded teenage girls. It’s just a wonderful mystery. Next week we’ll have little ghosts and goblins banging on the door and chiming “TRICK OR TREAT!” and my husband and I will feign terror as we drop handfuls of Tootsie Rolls and Butterfingers in their bags. It’s all silly, but it’s good fun. It’s community.


And these kids won’t know it, but I will. I’ll know that this silly fun helps keep fellow Americans in jobs where they have protections and safety… That knowledge makes me feel good… because it should.

Putting My Values to the Test - A Night on the Town

kodak3At our house Thursday night is date night. I’ve been married for more than 20 years and we’ve managed to keep it together with a lot of hard work and a little bit of regular excitement. Well, date night can’t get in the way of my Buy Union! challenge, so we’re going to have to figure this out.

To be honest with you, my husband hasn’t jumped on board with the Buy Union! challenge. He’s a scientist and I’m an activist. We have different priorities, but we respect and support each other on those things that matter to us. So, last night—date night—when I informed him we had to make it a “union night,” he was agreeable.

Putting My Values to the Test - Shopping for Union Groceries

grocery_store-3I have to admit that despite all my cheerleading on this blog that I’ve been a bit nervous about starting my buy union challenge. I’ve been a labor activist for 20 years now and I’m extremely busy… but I also have a life outside of the movement. I’m a mother of two girls, still married and with what little time I have outside of work, I like to spend that with my family and (do my best to) relax.Not always an easy feat.

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