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.

I AM UNION - Deborah Riley - Art Director

Deborah RileyEver since I could hold a pencil, I would draw and draw and draw. I was born in Australia and I spent my early childhood dreaming of becoming an animator. My parents encouraged me, and I collected every book on the art of animation and cartooning available. Even then, creating a world in order to tell a story appealed to me. Although I did not grow up to work in animation, creating the scenery for filmmaking has been the driving force of my professional life.

Putting My Values to the Test--Today I Begin the Buy Union! Challenge


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 AM UNION! - Don Sparks - Pierce College Professor

Don SparksI first came to California from Cleveland, Ohio to study at Humboldt State in 1969 and I never left. Even in high school I knew I wanted to be an educator but I also cared about nature and natural resources. In fact, even at my age I still love to get out into nature. Skiing, hiking, biking and tumbling are all big hobbies of mine. There’s nothing quite like the feeling on being on the side of a mountain after a snowfall and just listening to the silence, feeling the magnitude of it all.

Putting My Values to the Test--Changing the World...$1 at a Time


Now that I’ve shared my experiences about buying my first union-made car on this blog –  how easy and difficult a journey it was buying my Ford Escape   – it’s time to introduce myself, for those of you who don’t know me or my what we do here at Senders Communications Group. I’ve been a union activist for almost 20 years now. My company – including my crew of reporters, photographers and graphic designers -  has been fighting the good fight in favor of union-based political and social causes for more than 16 years now. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of stories, campaigns and elections we’ve done over the years. It’s been an invigorating, wonderful and sometimes frustrating journey in so many different ways. You take your victories where you can get them.

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