LABOR DAY REMINDER: As Bernie Sanders notes, you can still shop for the union label -- and insist on it! -- even in 2015 in the USA...

Bernie Sander's reminder on Labor Day weekend.During a time when even some union staff members think it's OK to drive an automobile that has been made (albeit in the USA) by scab (i.e., non union) workers, it's nice to hear from the Bernie Sanders campaign on Labor Day that all -- as in ALL -- their swag is union label. This morning I got an email noting Shop for union-made items in the Bernie Store:

When I was growing up in Linden New Jersey during the 1950s and 1960s, we all had our differences, from religion (the town had seven public schools and three Catholic schools, but nobody made a big deal about it and charter school "choice" would have been laughed out of town) to which local pizzaria made the "best" in town. We had American Legion baseball (down in the shadow of the refinery, which Bruce Springsteen sings about in "Born in the USA" -- that refinery was about five blocks from my parents' home on Monmouth Ave...) and fast pitch "softball".

Some of us even got to choose to resist the Vietnam War. We did that, even though we had been Eagle Scouts and leaders at the local school, church and community. (That doesn't come out in the movie "Hearts and Minds," which decided to feature my home town as an example of reactionary white working class blah blah blah... but that, too is another story). Other Eagle Scouts went into the military and wound up as POWs for years and years and years...

Sanders union label stuff. Labor Day 2015.But what we never did was drive a scab car. Nobody in Linden's working class could even think of doing that. It was as basic as rooting for your major league baseball favorite team.

The General Motors "BOP" assembly plant was less than a mile from the municipal swimming pool so that on hot days like this when we went swimming at "Wheeler Park Pool," we could walk down "Edgar Road" (U.S. Highway One is called that in Linden) and visit the UAW local office north of the massive Buick Oldsmobile Pontiac factory. In Linden, there was skepticism if someone drove a Chrysler instead of a Chevy or other GM car. (Loyalty to one of the biggest local employers, where union wages were creating the "middle class" and union health benefits were making us a lot healthier than our parents had been able to be...).

So today, as we celebrate "Labor Day," I'm reminding myself to look for that union label, even though it's getting harder to find, and accept no excuses from people who claim they "had to buy" am off brand anti-union care because it was (what was that again? Cheaper. Better. More diverse???).

Starting with the big ticket items, it's not hard in Chicago to find a union-made automobile, one that is even built by union workers at a union factory here in Chicago. And they last: My Ford Taurus is now older than I'd like to admit, but it's still running well and, as the song used to go, "we've got the pink slip." This is the best time to finance and buy a new car, as I recently told one of my sons. You go to the dealer and look over the "floor models" of the "old" model year. That's how Sam Schmidt and I found that GM (union made) Chevy Impala that Sharon drives to work at Steinmetz every day. (Sadly, the school parking lot has many non-union cars, but that's how far things have gotten).

Anyway, Labor Day. Unions. Time to rethink some excuses that have to be eliminated, rather than repeated if we're going to "bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old..."


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