MayDay! MayDay! Labour Day!

2014 May Day Rally

 

Mayday, Mayday! Labor activists come together in solidarity to honor labor and workers all around the world every May 1, except in the United States that is. 

I noticed that the media didn't really mention any May Day rallies that were held on May 1 2014 around the United States. Most of the coverage if any, usually centers around more violent demonstrations than the peaceful ones. Let's face it, in the immortal words of Megadeth lead singer Dave Mustain, "Peace sells but who's buying" (Yes I admit I'm an 80's metal head). So with that said I thought I would try to separate the wheat from the chaff and talk a bit about the origins of May Day. 

Labor Day marks the end of summer and back to school, but doesn't truly honor the American labor movement or the American worker. In the United States, we typically honor the American worker on Monday, September 1 with a back-to-school sale from a big box retail establishment. (I really can't think of a better way to honor someone's hard work other than putting it on sale for 10- 15% off regular prices for 12 hours only. But that is besides the point, I digress!) 

For those of you who don't know, in many countries "Labor Day" is reminiscent of International Worker's Day which falls on May 1. This day, ironically celebrates the working class - or as Larry the Cable Guy might say, "The people who know how to get 'er done."  

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Sweatfree Tribe Spotlight: Dr. Robert J.S. Ross

 

bob ross on sweatshops, futility of CSR campaigns, the global race to the bottomInequality and the Global Race to the Bottom

One of our tribespeople and mentor to CEO Kevin O'Brien is Robert J.S. Ross a now retired professor at nearby Clark University. Dr. Ross is a renowned scholar on sweatshop and author of Slaves to Fashion: Poverty and Abuse in the New Sweatshops.

Dr. Ross recently shared his viewpoint on how the international garment industry's global race to the bottom is raising inequality, low-wage misery, and fueling unsafe labor conditions here in the USA and abroad.

Thanks to all those involved in spreading these ideas. This series of contributions to Inequality.org by Dr. Ross are listed at the bottom of this blog as clickable links for his full articles.

Inequality and the Global Race to the Bottom as taken from Inequality.org:

"The chase after ever cheaper sites for manufacturing is causing rising inequality, low-wage misery, and unsafe workplaces in many parts of the world, the United States included.

By Robert J.S. Ross, April 28, 2014 

On April 24 — the  first anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh — labor rights advocates seeking justice for the survivors demonstrated the world over. Advocates are demanding “pay up” compensation to the families of the 1,138 workers killed and the 2,500 injured in the notorious building collapse.

In the United States, the International Labor Rights Forum wants the major purchasers of clothing from the factories of Rana Plaza — apparel brands and retailers ranging from The Children’s Place to Walmart — to pay fully and fairly into a compensation fund for the victims’ families. The Children’s Place and Walmart have announced they will make payments. But advocates are criticizing the small amounts and secrecy involved. 

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rinse & Repeat.

 

earth hour, continue earth hour past 60 minutes, use your power, earthhour.org

Today more than ever, people are becoming more socially aware of how the products that we use every day are produced and manufactured; however you should also be aware of the environmental impacts as well.

"Greening" the Promotional Product Industry

At Ethix, we continually strive to expand our promotional product offering to include as many environmentally friendly promotional products as they become more readily available and manufactured in the United States of America.

Eco and green products are now becoming mainstream as opposed to the exception.

We will always advocate for conscious consumption and ethical consumerism. Our goal is to help educate consumers and manufactures about the benefits of manufacturing and purchasing products made by union workers and in the United States of America. We want you to know what you're purchasing and how it was produced so that you can make the most educated decision possible.

Did you know that you can save the planet while still getting your message out? Here are a few ideas to consider:

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Made in USA: Fakers and Frauds

 

Don't Fall For It! Get Only Genuine USA Made Promotional Products!

Unfortunately there are those in our industry looking to cash in on unsuspecting individuals in the market for American made promotional items. With a simple slight of hand - presto! - their imported silicone wristbands can be confused with those made in the USA as they are devoid of country of origin signifiers. 

We've worked with individuals looking to recover from a faux pas as their last order with another company turned out to use imports. We love new Ethix clients, we just feel bad when we know someone else from Custom Chotskies Inc. tried to sell them imprinted promotional merchandise that was NOT genuinely made and printed in the United States.

Find Authentic USA and Union Made Promotions

With the Made in USA movement continuing to build momentum (as it should!) there is an increased demand for American Made custom products and apparel. This growing demand also makes room for those looking to turn a unscrupulous profit off trusting individuals and organizations.

Blank products are stripped of their tags, stickers are removed, fake union bugs are added to screens, and stories are concocted for the inquisitive. We've seen this fraudulent behavior in print shops, other distributors, and from clients that came to Ethix after being "had" by one or the other.

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Be Mine! Organizations We Love (But Mostly Admire)

 

A Valentine Message to Our Tribe

This is our love letter to the organizations and individuals that work tirelessly to fight for human rights and dignity in domestic and international supply chains. Our hats are off to you! 

Better let my heart be without words, than my words without heart.

- John Bunyan

Our team of Merchant Adventurers lives by Bunyan's statement. We believe the work that we do, and the jobs that we support, makes a measurable and significant impact on the lives of workers and their families.

Our work, in conjunction with that of sweat free, labor, and eco-minded movements, directly aids in creating a positive shift in the United States (and across the globe) for worker rights.

Ethics and Missions We Align With

We offer an ever expanding list on our site of organizations dedicated to refining ethical standards. We work with these organizations on orders, awareness raising, and organizing for change for factory laborers and the garment industry. 

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Minimum Wage and Economic Opportunities, or Why We Sell USA and Union Made

 

minimum wage holding back workers, sweeping away economic stability, throwing away savings

Support a Living Wage to Further Economic Opportunity

At Ethix, together with our clients, we believe in using our purchasing power to support the best possible working conditions for factory workers (in the promotional products industry and beyond!).

One project we're very proud to be a part of is the first ever Union Made, living wage garment factory in Villa Altagracia, Dominican Republic:

Alta Gracia pays its workers enough to allow them to meet basic needs for themselves and their families, including nutritious food, drinkable water, housing and energy, clothing, health care, transportation, education and childcare, as well as modest funds for savings.

Receiving a wage that not only considers the depth of your work, but also considers your future is powerful. Wages that allow for savings, ownership, and self care are a dream for workers earning a minimum wage.

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Union Made Promotional Items: Our Platinum Standard

 

Why We Sell Union Made Promotional Merchandise

The organizations and groups that are drawn to our site and business model are either directly involved in the labor movement or are in favor of just, safe and equitable employment opportunities (shouldn't everyone be?!).  

We sell only the highest quality union made promotional items to unions, activists, concerned organizations, and businesses. The exchange between our clients and the unions that make our products is a prime example of solidarity purchasing at work. These exchanges show appreciation for the labor and processes that go into making each product. 

Promo Swag that Supports U.S. Labor

Our goal is to continually provide (and increase variety of) custom promotional merchandise that helps support labor, people, and the environment.

Union Made in the USA is our "platinum standard" and we work tirelessly to get our promotional merchandise orders filled by unionized factories and embellishment shops. We do, however, recognize that not every item our clients are interested in is available with a union label or printed at a union shop and our "gold standard" is Locally Made in the USA.

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Join Ethix and Help to Change the World One Project at a Time

 

We're Hiring! Know Anyone Who Should Join Our Team?

We are growing quickly and are looking forward to welcoming the right people to join our team. We are looking for passionate people to live out our values by supporting our expansion. Do you know anyone who would make a SUPER merchant adventurer? Let them know they should apply today! 

Here are the 5 job descriptions for the positions we are looking to fill.

No mystery...just click the link above to bring you straight to our Ethix Careers page and read more about each open position. Please share widely with your networks.

Working in the Ethix Office (Massachusetts)

What's it like to work at a socially responsible company? Here are some things I love about our office: 

  • We are located in an old New England mill- that was originally home to Fruit of the Loom 200 years ago!
  • Being in a mill means there's a great little pond and park across the street
  • Park your car steps away from the building- super convenient in the winter!
  • Stay fueled with tasty Dean's Beans fair trade coffee from our Keurig or Yerba Mate for the tea drinkers!
  • We have a substantial stockpile of T-shirts, in case someone ever needs one
  • Ruth, Melissa, Jill, Terri, and Kevin all have huge hearts and care a ton about their work and our mission (see our team)
  • Daniel, who is our "West Coast" office, shares the above characteristics, though we don't get to see him every day (just once a year for our annual company retreat)
  • Sometimes Kevin makes super tasty gluten free chocolate cookies in the toaster oven for everyone (at our Sutton office...sorry Daniel!)
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'Tis the Season to Shop Small, Shop Local

 

#ShopLocal for the Holidays

Year after year Americans find themselves lured into the "Black Friday" hype. With all the bright, flashy ads around Thanksgiving, it's no wonder! As retail shoppers you feel the transition happening - sale flyers snuck into your shopping bags (as soon as Halloween!), the TV commercial spots, full page magazine spreads, and more.

What message is it that we hear?:

"Wait to buy. Wait a mere few hours after giving thanks for your family, your friends, and what you have this past year...and then buy, and buy BIG!"

Instead, give something that can be useful to both the intended receivor and for your brand - utilize a term I like to call "conscious gift-giving".

#ShopSmall for Promotional Gifts

We can't help but turn a package over or look for a tag to find out more about this promotional gift we've just received from our favorite company. We look for size tags, care instructions, as well as where (and how) was it made.

Think of how profound an impact you can leave with a custom promotional gift that was Made in the USA, printed in a union shop, and given with purpose and forethought.

We have gifts that fit a range of budgets as well as perfect personal touches that are just missing your logo or personalized message. And if you are looking for where to start we have a free, downloadable ebook guide to customized promotional gifts available to anyone with internet access.

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10 Highlights of 2013: Ethix Ventures, The Labor Movement, and Our Tribe

 

Reflecting on the Past Year

We work hard year-round to provide orders to factories and manufacturers that operate most ethically in producing USA and Union Made goods. Year-end always brings a little sentimentality but it also is a time to reflect on what the year has brought as well as the opportunities ahead in the future. We'd like to take a quick break at this special time of year to share with our readers some great moments we're thankful for in 2013.

What is Ethix Thankful For?

It has been a fast-paced year- one which has revealed insight, delivered growth (within our company and the movement), and provided recognition for the work we do in serving our customers. 

We appreciated the time to be able to gather our offices together and have our staff meet together (outside of the office buzz) and strategize for the future. We enjoyed each other's company so much we memorialized our time together with a group photo session! Hope you like our team photo here showing how happy we were together, and how many of us favor V-neck shirts (now that we look at this picture!). Below are 10 more of the most meaningful "events", reports, and newsworthy moments of 2013. 

Please see our high-level overview of the past year complete with summary snippets and links to read more:

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