12:24 PM Eastern - Monday, November 2, 2009

Shopping you can feel good about: Buying the union label

Many consumers assume that if a car is "American-made," it must have been built by union-represented workers. Not true. The UAW has prepared a guide to provide information for consumers who want to purchase vehicles produced by workers who enjoy the benefits and protections of a union contract. The 2010 list includes cars, trucks, pickups, vans, SUVs and crossovers from U.S., European and Asian-based carmakers. Check out the 2010 car buying guide here.

Buying Union-made: It's still difficult to find sweatshop-free and fairly traded merchandise in the U.S., but there are viable options if you care about fair trade products. For example, Union Made in USA merchandise is widely considered the platinum standard for consumers in the U.S. And while shopping can feel more like a forbidden past time or guilty pleasure in this economy, buying the Union label is something you can feel good about. Because you're not just getting a high-quality product--you're also supporting local economies, helping maintain middle class manufacturing jobs, and propping up responsible companies that employ workers at fair wages.

AutonomieProject.jpgThe union label is a badge of quality, workplace justice, and living wage--check out a selection of tees over at Ethix Merch here. Additionally, the SweatFree Communities and International Labor Rights Forum has a great 2009 Shop with a Conscience Consumer Guide on their website to key resource to help you become a socially conscious shopper.

The guide profiles clothing companies whose products are created in a "sweat-free" environment and clothing made in shops where workers are organized into unions (or worker-owned cooperatives) and have a voice on the job in determining their wages and working conditions (like Justice Clothing and No Sweat Apparel). My personal favorite from the guide is Autonomie Project, a store that offers some really creative, stylish t-shirts and accessories that are eco-friendly along with being sweatshop-free. Their new line of babies/children's apparel--especially the logo tees, like the one to the right--really stand out from the crowd.

For a guide to both union Made and fair Trade products, don't forget to visit the 2009 Shop With a Conscience Consumer Guide here. UAW's car-buying guide can be found here.

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