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Old 12-17-05, 02:40 AM   #1
rachmiel99
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Look(ing) for the union label

Ok -- since this is the advocacy forum, I figured I'd get the best response here.

New to the cycling thing . . . . a little stupefied by the cost of clothes and gear. At these prices, the workers should be getting a cut.

Anybody know which companies pay living wages, and/or have unionized factories?

Thanks . . .
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Old 12-17-05, 05:26 AM   #2
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You won't find too much sympathy here. Lots are out to get the cheapest possible price for bicycles and gear. This precludes thoughts of unions or whether the goods are made here in the US. Just like almost every other area of merchandise. Unions are going down the drain fast and have been for quite some time.
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Old 12-17-05, 08:39 AM   #3
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Yeah, Unions time have pretty much past.
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Old 12-17-05, 09:06 AM   #4
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Yeah, Unions time have pretty much past.
That's right. Pensions, health care, and other benefits are "dropping like flies". No unions needed here.
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Old 12-17-05, 09:16 AM   #5
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Regardless of the name brand, nearly all bicycles and components are now made in Taiwan or China. If a bike says "Made in USA" it means that the frame and possibly the fork are American made, and it was assembled in the US with imported components. Except for boutique items, components -- which make up the majority of the cost of a bike -- are no longer manufactured in this country. If you want to bike, you have to ride Chinese or Taiwanese.

Working conditions -- and environmental and safety conditions -- are not good in the Asian factories.
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Old 12-17-05, 09:23 AM   #6
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Bike specific clothing is high priced partialy due to economies of scale. Sell only a few items, R&D costs, advertising costs, and the like get spread over fewer units, thus increasing the unit cost. Plus, much of such stuff is highly technical, both fabrics & construction consting more than your average Hanes Beefy Tee.

(Shrugs & dons Nomex coveralls)

In their day, unions were a great thing, forcing large employeers to grant decent wages, safe working conditions, decent level of benefits, getting laws protecting he workers passed. But the day of the labor union has bassed, and I believe the beginning of the end was when union shop rep became a paying position, rather than one taken by a driven, caring, motivated individual.

Look around the country, some of the highest paying jobs are union jobs, but those industries are either in competitive trouble with international competition, or on government life support. Or both. A former brother-in-law had a union job, with a far better hourly wage than I made at the time. But due to higher rates for union benefits, dues & frequent strikes, I netted more at the end of the year.

Have you seen the obscene salaries high union officials make?

Got your transportation contingency plan ready in case of a transit strike?

Your heart is in the right place. Just research where the stuff is made & conditions there, rather than if it is a union shop.
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Old 12-17-05, 09:34 AM   #7
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- i used to belong to the textile workers union back in the mid-70s... worked in a textile factory in Hazleton, Pa. for a year...

- the union there did NOTHING but collect dues... no bargaining, no bettering of conditions... there were hundreds of health-related incidents and problems for workers in the plant (imagine dangerous machinery, constant dust in the air w/no filtering, contact dermatitis, infections, etc.)...

- i'll never forget the shift supervisor urging me to quit college (i worked 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., then went to school full time during the day) - he said he'd make me a loom fixer w/a whopping pay increase of $0.80 an hour to, IIRC, $2.35 an hour! - i laughed in his face...

- after school let out for summer, i got a job as a chef down at the southern NJ beaches... left the textile job w/no notice... a few weeks later the local union shop sent me a threatening letter - not because i quit, but because i didn't continue paying dues! they threatened that i would 'never work in the industry again'... what a joke!

- unions, yeah right!
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Old 12-17-05, 09:43 AM   #8
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Unions are pricing themselves right out of most markets. Have been for years, now. That's why so many jobs are, and have been, moving overseas and why there's so much whining and crying about NAFTA, et.al.

How much do workers get paid when the job is gone?
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Old 12-17-05, 09:48 AM   #9
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I don't know if it's union, but all my Ibex cycling clothing bears a "made in the USA" label. wether these are stitched up in Vermont, or off shore in an "American trade zone" i don't know.

Ibex cycling shorts cost 90 bucks and I'm happy to pay it. Besides their country of manufacture, they're the best bicycling shorts ever made.
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Old 12-17-05, 09:58 AM   #10
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Many cycling items are not high priced. There is a widse range of prices for similar items depending on many factors.

Looking at the retail cost of an item and assuming that the manufacturer of that item is making a large profit on the item is probably a faulty assumption. If you had the data, you would probably find that competition to get themanufacturing contracts requires the factory to price the items with a fair profit margin. As the item moves through the supply chain, it may be marked up several times before finally getting to the retailer. Once in your LBS, the item may be marked up more than double what the LBS paid for it. This is especially true for accessories and clothing. Bikes and big ticket items are marked up far less.

Curiously, I noticed that the OP does does not have a red star next to his username. I would have thought that someone so concerned about people getting fair compensation for their labors would be sure that the guy who devotes so much time toward the care and feeding of this valuable resource was adequately reimbursed for his efforts.
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Old 12-17-05, 11:28 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by rachmiel99
New to the cycling thing . . . . a little stupefied by the cost of clothes and gear. At these prices, the workers should be getting a cut.

Anybody know which companies pay living wages, and/or have unionized factories?
J&G Cyclewear is made in the US at least. Probably not unionized, but I don't personally believe that unions are necessary to get reasonable wages, if a person is willing to put the work in to making themselves a valuable asset.

I don't think unions are in good shape. I live in SE Michigan, and it's pretty obvious that the unions are killing themselves. They're insisting on big salaries and pensions for line workers, and more and more, companies simply can't afford it. Some pensions have already collapsed, and I think a bunch more will eventually. The unions that don't let their benefits come back into line with reality are eventually going to find all their jobs moved offshore.
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Old 12-17-05, 11:35 AM   #12
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Unions? I've lost many a job due to unions, not a one has helped me though. To me unions have very negative associations. As in, "oh, the bus driver's contracts are up, they'll threaten to strike again." Or, "oh, the teacher's contracts are up...."

One of the big issues I see with unions locally is an unrealistic expectation of what employers can provide. No one else has job security, protection from layoffs, or big pay hikes every year. Yet unions - particularly those representing the civil service - seem to think they can still demand these things. So city hall is busy cutting essential services to meet the demands of unions. Great. Personally I would much rather negotiate my own contracts, and that is exactly what I did for every job I had until I became self-employed.

I do see the other side of the equation, though. Hi-tech workers here are treated like crap, and are very much in need of someone looking out for their interests.

As to the original post, I admit to giving little thought to the employees who made a product I buy. I do look for a "made in Canada" label, though, though I seldom find it.
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Old 12-17-05, 11:45 AM   #13
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Unions? ... I do see the other side of the equation, though. Hi-tech workers here are treated like crap, and are very much in need of someone looking out for their interests.
Yea... though the work is interesting so that makes up for unrealistic schedules... don't think it's possible to unionize a software company, all of the sudden everyone is a manager . I like socialist ideals but hate corruption and laziness.
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Old 12-17-05, 12:31 PM   #14
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So supcom: if I pay $25, will you answer the f****** question? Or give me more, "It may be," "don't assume," etc. I was looking for an answer, not a lecture.

At least patc is honest: "I admit to giving little thought to the employees who made a product I buy."

Since I've gotten my bike last month, my friends have teased me about hanging out with yuppies who only care about wearing clownish tights and sipping lattes with their high-tech friends . . .

I said, "no, man, bike people really seem to care about stuff -- nature, the environment, health ..."

Of course, none of that includes actual people.

I'm sorry if it's boring to talk about someone making 30 cents an hour . . . why bother when we can talk about carbon-fiber seat-post covers, right?

. . . easier to blame some union guy in the 70s who was corrupt . . . I once knew a teacher who hit a kid, so I guess we should get rid of schools . . .

Ask your pals at WalMart if they dig their great jobs . . . when they're making 100 times what the people who assemble the crap they sell bring home . . . that is, if they have a home, assuming they aren't forced to live at the factory, work 18 hour shifts, prevented from using the bathroom, and forced to run laps around the plant for "insubordination" . . .

Who's up for a protein shake?
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Old 12-17-05, 12:38 PM   #15
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cogent, rach....I'm one of those that cares, regardless of how miniscule an impact one consumer can have.... I'd recc to just try Ibex - wool is earth friendly, regardless of the impact electric sheep shearers may have , and its made in the USA- I think that's about as good as it gets, unless you buy exclusively thrift store garb to minimize the environmental cost of manufacturing and distribution from buying brand new consumer goods...
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Old 12-17-05, 01:36 PM   #16
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Yea... though the work is interesting so that makes up for unrealistic schedules... don't think it's possible to unionize a software company, all of the sudden everyone is a manager . I like socialist ideals but hate corruption and laziness.
I describe myself as a socialist libertarian. There should be laws enforcing a reasonable standard for wages, workplaces, etc. Beyond that I want the power to deal with my employer as an individual (not that it matter now, I'm self-employed).
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Old 12-17-05, 01:46 PM   #17
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So supcom: if I pay $25, will you answer the f****** question? Or give me more, "It may be," "don't assume," etc. I was looking for an answer, not a lecture.

At least patc is honest: "I admit to giving little thought to the employees who made a product I buy."

....

I'm sorry if it's boring to talk about someone making 30 cents an hour . . . why bother when we can talk about carbon-fiber seat-post covers, right?
I think you are mixing two issues which, while related, are not synonymous. Contemporary unions in western countries have little to do (today) with human rights issues such the abuse of employees we see in many countries, particularly those we egotistically cal the "third world". Further I don't believe that the minor impact my shopping habits have many any difference whatsoever in the grand scheme of things. I bough one new set of tires this year, do you really think it made any difference at all what country those were made in? Compare that to, say, buying coffee- something I do weekly.

I'm not saying that we can't change the world - we can - just that we have to keep our actions in perspective. "Every little bit helps" may be a great in some cases, but in others you just end up with an insignificant pile of bits. If you want to improve conditions for workers in other countries, you need to look at the political front: trade agreements that include conditions of transparency and fair treatment for the workers.
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Old 12-17-05, 02:21 PM   #18
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I think you are mixing two issues which, while related, are not synonymous. Contemporary unions in western countries have little to do (today) with human rights issues such the abuse of employees we see in many countries, particularly those we egotistically cal the "third world".
Bingo. I'm in a union shop right now, and here's my basic take -- they're just another kind of corporation looking out for themselves and their richest members.

In union contracts, you'll commonly find clauses that base pay on amount of time in the system (and any effort to tie pay to productivity will be fought vigorusly), "seniority language" -- this means that new people get laid off first regardless of how good they are and opportunities are guaranteed to people simply based on how long they've been drawing a check. There are many other common provisions that direct benefits to "experienced" people at the expense of lowest paid employees. And, it's practically a guarantee that the union will fight like heck to keep management from firing crummy employees who give us all a bad name. Meanwhile everyone whines how exploited they are, but they're not willing to look for another job and we have huge waiting lists of people begging for a job.

I can only speak for my own environment, but where I work the union helps management separate the wheat from the chaff and chuck the wheat. A disproportionate percentage of the good people leave after awhile, but the real dead wood stays forever because it's an easy ride and they'll never get paid better elsewhere.

I try my best to support businesses that treat people and the environment right, but I don't think it's necessary to buy union to do this. Unions look out for themselves, and few care if they screw others in the process. There are unions that do good things, but others are actually part of the problem. The people who need representation the most will never get it.

Besides, there are lots of great nonunion businesses.
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Old 12-17-05, 02:39 PM   #19
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Unions are pricing themselves right out of most markets. Have been for years, now. That's why so many jobs are, and have been, moving overseas and why there's so much whining and crying about NAFTA, et.al.

How much do workers get paid when the job is gone?
Who will be buying your goods when the shrinking middle class can no longer afford more than a subsistence living? Even with a two-income family (often with one parent holding down two jobs) people are barely keeping up. Just as the communist system collapsed of its own inefficiencies, the current iteration of the capitalist system is going down fast. At some point, and that time is closer than you think), the majority of the people in this country are going to realize that they have been believing lies. The corrupted versions of Adam Smith that are being hawked by the neocons are not going to cut it, period. What will replace it is hard to predict, but we are in for a long, hard period of readjustment, a la East Germany.
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Old 12-17-05, 03:18 PM   #20
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All you union haters: Please surrender your 40 hour weeks, your health benefits, your paid vacations, your high wages, and all the other benefits that union members fought and even died for. If you like seeing the good jobs go overseas, bust the unions and line up for a job at Walmart.

To the OP: Your union education committee could help you find the source of union-made products. I know offhand that Ray-o-vac batteries are union made and are usually chaper than the batteries made overseas by Duracell and Eveready. How do you union haters suppose that happened?
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Old 12-17-05, 03:26 PM   #21
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How do you union haters suppose that happened?
I'd guess market forces and lack of branding? I don't recall ever seeing a Rayovac commercial.
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Old 12-17-05, 03:27 PM   #22
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roody, the usefulness in unions lobbying for the rights of all workers is about a hundred years past date, bro....


why don't unions get of their collective arses and lobby for rights for all american workers again, like fighting for unified health care for all workers, a protection of social security benefits, and give up some of they 'proprietary' workers' rights only due the star-bellied union members?

I heckle all union strikers, you hosers! Go get a job at MickeyDee's if your 25 bucks an hour and generous benefits package isn't good enough for you all.

21st century unions, operating with 20th century value systems, are going to break the back of the American economy, if they haven't already done so....
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Old 12-17-05, 03:34 PM   #23
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J&G Cyclewear is made in the US at least. Probably not unionized, but I don't personally believe that unions are necessary to get reasonable wages, if a person is willing to put the work in to making themselves a valuable asset.
Unions were started for the simple reason that good workers were not being fairly compensated. Where is a person to make these "reasonable wages?" Walmart? Workers at Kroger and Meijers make far more than Walmart workers because they are unionized. But Meijers and Kroger both compete succssfully with Walmart. How do you explain that?


Quote:
I don't think unions are in good shape. I live in SE Michigan, and it's pretty obvious that the unions are killing themselves. They're insisting on big salaries and pensions for line workers, and more and more, companies simply can't afford it. Some pensions have already collapsed, and I think a bunch more will eventually. The unions that don't let their benefits come back into line with reality are eventually going to find all their jobs moved offshore.
Those companies have been mismanaged by overcompensated executives for 30 or 40 years now. GM and its offshoot, Delphi are prime examples. How do you complain about a worker getting $15 or $20 an hour when some CEO gets millions to run the company into the ground? How can you blame a union for the way a company is managed? Did you know that unions are not part of management? Unions represent workers, and try to get adequate compensation for workers. But modern unions are very aware that they must cooperate with management to make the companies that employ them strong and competetive.

The main reason that US workers' benefits are so expensive, compared to other countries, is that in other countries, the government provides most health care and pension benefits. The US is one of the few countries where private businesses must provide these benefits to workers. The Republicans do not want government to provide benefits, and they also do not want corporations to provide them. Where do they expect these benefits to come from?

Your opinions are based on very outdated and inaccurate information. If you are interested, I will find some more accurate data for you.
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Old 12-17-05, 03:37 PM   #24
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roody, the usefulness in unions lobbying for the rights of all workers is about a hundred years past date, bro....


why don't unions get of their collective arses and lobby for rights for all american workers again, like fighting for unified health care for all workers, a protection of social security benefits, and give up some of they 'proprietary' workers' rights only due the star-bellied union members?

I heckle all union strikers, you hosers! Go get a job at MickeyDee's if your 25 bucks an hour and generous benefits package isn't good enough for you all.

21st century unions, operating with 20th century value systems, are going to break the back of the American economy, if they haven't already done so....
How many years have you been in the workforce?
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Old 12-17-05, 03:41 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
roody, the usefulness in unions lobbying for the rights of all workers is about a hundred years past date, bro....


why don't unions get of their collective arses and lobby for rights for all american workers again, like fighting for unified health care for all workers, a protection of social security benefits, and give up some of they 'proprietary' workers' rights only due the star-bellied union members?

I heckle all union strikers, you hosers! Go get a job at MickeyDee's if your 25 bucks an hour and generous benefits package isn't good enough for you all.

21st century unions, operating with 20th century value systems, are going to break the back of the American economy, if they haven't already done so....
Unions spend millions lobbying for the issues you mentioned. That's why Republicans don't like them. Unions are probably the only organized voice lobbying fo these interests. If these issues are important to you, you should join a union.
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