New Tasty Brews Added to Our List. Cheers.

By Michael MessinaRed Tail Ale

I am a beer drinker. I like the tastes and aesthetic qualities that make up a good pint of ale, lager, porter, whatever. I got a book on beer for Christmas one year, but that doesn’t make me a connoisseur or beer professor by any means. For example, picking out subtle notes of exotic spices is not something I pride myself on, but I do appreciate the way a beer smells as I drink it.

Begrudgingly, my personal taste tends to conflict with a few of the mainstream brews that we promote as “union made” here at Labor 411. Will I drink a Budweiser or Miller? Of course, when the situation is right, like if it’s ice-cold and I’m floating down the river with the sun scorching and my cares to the wind, or if I’m washing down a salty hot dog at the ball park. On those occasions I’m game, but when I’m out with my buds (pun definitely intended) I prefer to have the barmaid draw me a pint with more of a micro-brew personality.

Twenty-Five Awesome Labor Quotes

Cesar ChavezLooking for some great inspirational quotes and words of wisdom about the labor movement? We’ve put together twenty-five of our favorite from activists, presidents, and more!

"Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

"You are never strong enough that you don't need help." - Cesar Chavez (image)

"Every piece of progressive social legislation passed by Congress in the 20th century bears a union label." - George Meany

Make it Union-Made for Food Drives

By Ashley Beard-FosnowUnion food drive

If we purchase Union Made, we support the true American spirit of opportunity for people. Buying Union-made products provides more good jobs for our citizens, which in turn means more tax dollars for our schools, roads, and services like police, fire departments, and public health programs. Additionally, buying Union-made sends a displeased message to businesses who exploit workers overseas.

5 Labor Movies Everyone Should Watch At Least Once


by Sahid Fawaz

1. Norma Rae 

Nominated for a number of Academy Awards, including Best Picture, this 1979 film focuses on the organizing efforts of a textile factory worker in a small town in North Carolina. A moving and heartfelt film, Norma Rae is one of the most definitive union films ever produced. Not to mention that Sally Field does an incredible job playing the lead role – enough so that she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her part.

2. Matewan

This 1987 film provides a gritty look at the events of the Battle of Matewan, which was a coal miner strike in Matewan, WV in 1920. The movie provides a harsh glimpse into life in a company town and the conditions that led men and women to fight to the death for union representation. Nominated for an Academy Award for cinematography, Matewan is also recognized for its terrific camera-work in capturing the tough, dirty, and dangerous conditions that marked the lives of coal miners.

3. Roger and Me

A controversial and unflinching look at Flint, MI as it struggled with the outsourcing of good paying automotive jobs. This documentary by Michael Moore captivates from the beginning to the end and shows the effects of unrestrained corporate greed on American communities.

4. Harlan County, USA

This 1976 Oscar-winning documentary provides an unwavering glimpse into the Brookside Strike - a 1973 coal miner strike in the hills of Kentucky. Shot brilliantly and with no narration, the film is a tense journey into the tough fight by coal miners against powerful companies. This is a must-watch for anyone who enjoys documentaries.

5. Silkwood

One of Meryl Streep’s best performances, this Academy Award nominated movie depicts the tragic life of a plutonium plant worker and labor union activist who fought for safety improvements for workers. Gripping from beginning to end, and based on a true story, this movie is a must-see for those interested in labor history and great cinema.

Have a recommendation for a great labor movie? Let us know in the comments!


Five Little-Known Labor Day Facts

by Sahid Fawaz

We at Labor 411 love trivia. And we love the labor movement, of course. So we thought we’d combine the two and share you with some Labor Day trivia as we approach the big celebration on Monday!

1.New York City was the first city to celebrate Labor Day. It did so in 1882, with a parade of over 10,000 participants. 

2.Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday on February 21, 1887.

3.It was a foe of organized labor, not a friendly ally, who signed the Labor Day holiday bill. President Grover Cleveland did so under great pressure from voters and Congress.  

4.Canada celebrates its Labor Day on the same day as the United States. 

5.The first Labor Day was organized by Peter McGuire, a cabinetmaker from New York. 

Lauding Labor - Quotes to Live By

John F. Kennedy

By Michael Messina

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington. And with Labor Day fast approaching, I thought we should take a look at other speeches past that speak of the role of labor in our country.

Labor Day is THE day of the year to lift up the American worker with words of high praise and affection. But for all our oratories of admiration and thanks, none can compare to the eloquent words of those spoken on past Labor Days by the much loftier voices of our Presidents.

Union-Made Lemonade Stand for Labor Day

By Ashley Beard-Fosnow

August-15-2013-018My kids have been begging all summer to have a Lemonade Stand. (I have been putting it off because I hate obligating our neighbors to humor our kids. Furthermore, my husband and I give our children opportunities to earn pocket money by doing extra chores around the house.) I finally relented and we have been making plans to set up a Lemonade Stand around Labor Day. We compromised by agreeing to make it a charity event and donate all the proceeds to the AFL-CIO United Way. I was inspired by the IAFF and their Labor Day campaign to "Fill The Boot" for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Firefighters are amazing. I find their work and charity efforts so admirable.

My Union Family

By guest blogger Ashley Beard-FosnowAshley guest blog

I did not grow up in an Union family. In fact, when I met my husband Clint ten years ago the only thing I knew about Unions was what I gleaned from the Disney film, "The Newsies." Since our fateful meeting, Clint has educated me on his job as an Ironworker, collective bargaining, and the Labor Movement. I have witnessed firsthand all of the benefits of being a member of a Union family.

Four Myths about Fast Food Workers’ Wages

by Sahid Fawaz

1.    “Fast food workers earn what they’re worth”

fast food workers strike

Because they have little bargaining power, fast food workers do not earn wages close to the value that they provide to corporations. The result is the unconscionable exploitation of millions of hardworking fast food employees, which places many of them below the poverty line. It is a failure of modern society when full time workers cannot earn enough to live above the poverty line and be self-sufficient, so as not to have to rely on government assistance.

Not to mention that real wages have declined for decades for workers, despite tremendous gains in productivity. So where has the money been going all this time? To the corporate executives and shareholders rather than to the workers who actually create all this wealth.

Football is Back!

By Michael Messinanfl logos

Okay, so maybe it’s just preseason, but for me that’s plenty of reason to get back into the beer clanking, sausage grilling, greasy fingered snack fest that is the football party.

Our Super Bowl post was a fond farewell to football earlier this year, and now we welcome the pigskin back with open arms (and no fumbles, of course). We’ve done parties before here at Labor 411, so I’m not going to waste too much of your time. I’ve put together a list of links to our best union-made salty, sweet, savory and bubbly supplies for you and the guests.

Enjoy! And go (insert favorite team here)!

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