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Made in America: Make Your Fourth of July Barbecue Union Made

Via AFL_CIO NOW blog.


It’s Made in America week and we’ll be spotlighting a different product area every day so that working families can show their solidarity for their sisters and brothers. First up, we know many of you will be planning barbecues for the Fourth of July.

Text MADE to 235246 for more union-made in America product lists.

Our lists are courtesy of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s website Labor 411; Union Plus; the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM); and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).


  •  Budweiser
  •  Coors
  •  Miller
  •  Pabst
  •  Sam Adams

See more beers from Union Plus.


  •  Rubbermaid


  •  Artflag


  •  Battleship
  •  Candy Land
  •  Clue
  •  Connect Four
  •  Monopoly
  •  Twister
  •  Yahtzee


  •  Weber (Genesis, Summit, Q Series)

Hot Dogs

  •  Ball Park
  •  Butterball
  •  Hebrew National
  •  Hormel
  •  Oscar Mayer

Ice Cream

  •  Breyers
  •  Good Humor
  •  Prairie Farms
  •  Tillamook


  • Flipz pretzels
  • Frito-Lay chips
  • Triscuit crackers
  • Wheat Thins crackers
  • Oreo cookies (Note: The AFL-CIO has endorsed the BCTGM’s boycott of Nabisco products made in Mexico because Mondelēz International, Nabisco’s parent company, continues to outsource product lines and middle-class American jobs to Mexico. Before you buy Oreos or any Nabisco-brand products, check the label to make sure you are buying American-made snacks. Learn how to check the label.)


  •  Bain de Soleil
  •  Coppertone

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Made in America: Union-Made Easter

Via the AFL-CIO Now Blog by Kenneth Quinnell



Easter is this Sunday, so here is a list of union-made in America treats to fill an Easter basket and other holiday accoutrements brought to you by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s resource site, Labor 411. These Easter shopping list ideas are brought to you by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the Machinists (IAM), United Farm Workers (UFW) and the Teamsters (IBT).

Union-made Easter candy

  • Ghirardelli Chocolates
  • Jelly Bellies
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Mike and Ikes
  • Necco Wafers
  • Peeps
  • Thin Mints
  • Tootsie Rolls

And don’t forget to pick up a union-prepared Easter ham or lamb:

  • Appleton Farms ham
  • Black Forest ham
  • Butterball ham
  • Chiappetti lamb
  • Cook’s ham
  • Farmland Old Fashioned Pit Ham
  • Farmland Original Pit Ham
  • Fischer Meats lamb
  • Hormel Honey Roasted Ham
  • Tyson Foods ham

If you’re feeling like doing a little egg dyeing, try these:

  • Alta Dena
  • Horizon Organic
  • President’s Choice

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An Entrepreneurial “Downshift”

At the end of last month I stepped down from my position of CEO with the company and took up my new position of Director of Business Development. This move, long planned, by my partner and I finally came around where the intent is for me to move closer to “retirement”. It’s not a word that comes easy to me far less the actual event itself. I’ve been searching around for another word to describe the situation and one of my customers suggested “downshifting”. That’s probably what I’m going to go with in the meantime – “downshifting”. Not that I expect to be exactly taking it easy. The company continues to grow and I intend to play my part in contributing to that in a very meaningful way. As with all transitions, it’s a time for reflection (at least for me) and I thought about what an exciting 12 years it’s been since Dave Roger and I founded this company. I also thought about the highs and lows that come with being entrepreneurs. Unless you’ve tried it no-one can possibly understand what it’s like.- sleepless nights, 7 day work weeks, the angst of making payroll, hiring and firing, planning, fighting, arguing, laughing and complaining, exciting, joyful, depressing …. It goes on and on. There really is nothing like it since you are operating with no safety net and relying on yourselves and the expertise that you have gained through experience, or through hiring really fine staff (which we have). With that said, I am really, really fed up with our politicians who continually tell us that “small businesses are the backbone of our economy” etc. etc. and yet do virtually nothing for us. Frankly, I wish they would just shut up. The exception for us has been at the local level where the State of Connecticut helped us with a grant, conditional upon creating jobs…. and create jobs we did! So, hats off to this bi-partisan program which realizes that if you give assistance to aggressive highly motivated, talented individuals you’ll get results. Seems like a no brainer.

Being an entrepreneur is not for everybody, it’s not even for most people, and unfortunately the odds are stacked against one. In the last few years the statistics are that there are dramatically fewer entrepreneurial ventures being started each year and that the failure rate is high, ….and this in a country which prided itself on being the shining example in this area. With our political system crippled by the corrupting influence of more and more money and the power of special interest groups, plus a Congress whose behavior resembles a kindergarten, there is little room for optimism on my part that anything will change anytime soon. So, in conclusion I salute all of my fellow entrepreneurs in whatever endeavor they are engaged and wish them well. May they reach the time when they too can enjoy “downshifting” as the well-deserved fruits of their labor.


Bob Stevenson in downshifting mode

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Labor Day Celebrations Not for Retail

As I drove home from work – my choice – this past Labor Day holiday in the U.S., the one thing that struck me was how many stores full of low-paid workers were open, while most corporate offices were closed. Some of those working today did it for the extra money, but for the majority, it was just another scheduled day, on a holiday that celebrates all the labor movement has done for this country. It clearly has a long way to go.

I used to love it when people said to me, “Quit complaining about your minimum wage salary! You should get another job if you don’t like it!” Really? Then I guess those folks thought I worked a physically demanding job behind the counter of a nationally known retail store four years ago because I could get another job, and was just too lazy to find one. Seriously? It was that job or nothing. Before I was hired there, I got turned down by several other large retailers who are not well known for generous pay rates. So many in fact, that I lost count. Forget the better paying and corporate jobs I applied for. 99% of them didn’t even bother to tell me that they weren’t interested. Incidentally, I’m a college graduate and IT professional.

My employer was not a union shop, so they could do wonderful things like never give you two days off in a row, schedule you for a late PM shift one day and an early AM shift the next (no sleep?), schedule you to work holidays, not even tell you your next week’s schedule until a few days before it was supposed to begin (great for planning personal life and doctor’s appointments), and fire you when you got a herniated disk – oh yes, that too.

I was left alone to do two people’s work one morning and had to lift something that was more than a third of my body weight, and snap! There went my back and my job.

I couldn’t even get another minimum wage job. No one was interested in someone with a back problem. Then, by a stroke of luck, I found the job I have now at JayStar. It wasn’t skill, determination, or persistence. It was pure luck, and about as likely as winning the lottery.

I now work for a company where the owners are intelligent enough to realize that their employees are their major asset, and they treat them accordingly.  In fact, as of the date of this posting, no employee has ever voluntary left JayStar since its inception eleven years ago. My co-workers are productive, hard-working, and downright fun, and our company is growing as a result. It’s because we are all being valued both financially and personally.

Sadly, for one person like me with a happy ending, there are hundreds of thousands out there that will never be so lucky.

So, I thought, Happy Labor Day, America. Don’t get too excited about how much you saved in a sale today or how little your meal cost. Think about some of the folks who served you, and understand that they could have higher pay and benefits, and better lives, without impacting the cost of your purchase. Remember that our unions keep fighting for better wages and working conditions for us all. It is, after all, good business sense to appreciate and reward your employees. Just look at JayStar to see the proof of that.

Posted in: General, Labor Unions

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In Praise of Diversity

In recent news we have seen various headlines on immigration reform, women’s rights, and numerous forms of discrimination that occur in the workplace.  Our business is in providing solutions to labor unions and I thought about how our customers, who represent the working people of America (or at least those that are still organized), stack up when it comes to these issues.  In particular I remember being at a meeting with one of our first customers where there were photographs in the room of their conventions from the 1920’s and 1930’s.  As a student of American history I noticed that the audience was completely integrated with Caucasian and African American delegates sitting side by side.  This surprised me knowing that this photograph was taken in the era of “Jim Crow.”  It turned out that for this union, equality, regardless of race or ethnicity had been a cornerstone of their constitution almost from their inception.  Why didn’t I know this?  I guarantee that 99% of the American public wouldn’t know this either.   Unions by and large do a lousy job of public relations. They let their enemies mold the public perception of unions which are so stereotypical it would be redundant for me to even address it.  But from my point of view, the truth is the union world is streets ahead of the corporate world in diversity of all kinds, ethnic, gender, and age.  Unions have been in the forefront of leading social change for most of their existence.   If we put aside the economic arguments for organized labor (which are powerful in themselves) and consider the metrics by which we value a fairer, more just society, why isn’t this being highlighted in a more aggressive fashion by union leaders?

Taking the issue of diversity a step further I looked at our own companies’ staff.

We have the following ethnicities/countries of origin: Anglo, Hispanic, Indian, Sri Lankan, Nepali & Chinese.

Our gender mix is almost exactly 50-50 male and female.

40% of our staff (including me and my partner) is over 50 years of age.

Bear in mind we outsource NOTHING, so I’m talking about around 20 individuals under the same roof here in Connecticut. Also when I investigated further I noted that we can converse (to a greater or lesser degree) in the following languages:









-Chinese – Mandarin

-Chinese – Cantonese

In other words this is an American company, proof positive that diversity in all areas is our strength.

This is not some abstract “politically correct” idea but a working practical example of a successful business which has grown in a few years to be a major provider of software and related services to the union world.  We try to follow the example of our customers when it comes to regarding the differences in ethnicity, gender, and age as a strength.   If you would like additional information on any of our products or services please call us (in any of the above languages) or contact us and we will be glad to help.

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Embezzlement – It Involves the Nicest People

They were the last people you would ever imagine would steal $____________ (fill in the dollars).

My professional background was originally in accounting.  I held various positions ranging from a NATO budget analyst to the Financial Controllership of a major corporation.

In the course of this wide-ranging career it was my dubious privilege to become acquainted with various individuals who had committed fraud.  Recently I was once again confronted by the news that a past customer of ours had committed embezzlement and was now facing jail time. This was the second time in the last year that I had heard this kind of news about people I knew.  My reaction has always been the same. It’s the one that is classically recorded in the media to these events……. “I can’t believe it; he/she seemed like the last person who would do that!”  After a 40 year professional career nothing has changed in this respect. I remember having dinner with a customer many years ago and in the course of that evening I mentioned the sophisticated auditing capabilities that were in our software (which he was using) but which were hidden from the user.

Almost immediately large beads of perspiration broke out on my customers face accompanied by the words “WHAT!!! YOU DIDN’T TELL ME THAT!” You can guess the rest.  The amount stolen was in the millions.  The message here of course is that we MUST implement best practices in our accounting processes and software when it comes to discouraging embezzlement and trust NOT in our judgment of somebody’s “niceness.”

It is actually almost impossible to completely eliminate the possibility of fraud when it comes to a determined embezzler. Embezzlers I have spoken with have in many cases started out with the promise (to themselves), that they were “borrowing” the money and would put it back when in a position to do so. When they subsequently were unable to pay it back, there then was a rationalization process whereby they convinced themselves that they somehow had “earned” it on just this occasion, so no problem. Needless to say, that rationalization progresses to the point where it becomes a “right” to steal on a frequent basis.

Good prevention practices are a combination of processes like division of responsibilities so that no one person controls the finances, and taking advantage of security features found in your Accounting software. Some software packages are of course much more capable in this area than others, and by and large you get what you pay for.

To learn more about the security features of our software and fraud prevention please contact us or our accounting software partners CriticalEdge Group.

Posted in: Accounting Systems, General

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Outsource to America?

This week our company was in the news for receiving a grant from the State of Connecticut for “job creation.” Our agreement with the State is that we will match, dollar for dollar, the amount we get from them and use that money to create jobs in our home state. This is something that comes naturally to us as it is what we have been doing since we created our company.  Nobody who works for us lives outside the borders of Connecticut and most of us are less than a 20 minute drive away.  In this age of long distance commuting and “outsourcing” hiring locally might seem somewhat “out of date” especially since we are a Technology company.  We say “NONSENSE!” and would match our staff against any in the world and have currently found all the talent we need right here in our own backyard.

Moreover, as well as making sound business sense, my partner and I have always thought that this was “patriotic”.  For us, providing jobs for people in this country is important and we take issue with the prevailing attitude of “oh well, its globalization and that’s how it goes.”   We’ll go as far as paying more for our supplies if they can be domestically sourced.   I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for outsourcing in certain areas but in the last two decades it seems like there has been a rush to outsource everything that is possible, rather than everything that makes sense.  The values of teamwork, morale, communications, service and people management seems to have been, in many cases thrown out the window. The results overall have been reduced quality of service. (Think “Your call is important to us……”).   When it comes to designing complex software involving tight project deadlines, frequent communication and teamwork are essential. Nobody can convince me that doing so with people half a world away, whom I have never met and who don’t know our customers is anything but false economy at best and a potential disaster at worst.  Sure, the rates might be a fifth of what they are here in the States but that’s only one variable…….and it should NOT be the deciding factor.    (AND, it’ll probably take 5 times as long to get it right.)

So even if your idea of being “patriotic” includes outsourcing, you might want to look beyond the cost factor alone.  If you have ever become frustrated talking to a support person 6,000 miles away who is pretending to be “Mike from Atlanta,” imagine how that would work trying to design, develop, and implement a complex software product.

We can ONLY imagine, since it’s not something you are going to see us do.

To talk with Bob or Dave in Connecticut (yes, really, IN Connecticut) Contact us or Call us at 203-831-8655.

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Welcome to the JayStar Group Blog!

With the launch of our blog, we are excited to extend our knowledge and expertise on labor unions and back office solutions to the World Wide Web.

On our blog you can expect to find the latest information and news on some of the following topics:

  • LM-2 preparations and compliance
  • Dues processing and management
  • Union membership systems
  • Grievance management systems
  • Accounting software
  • Customized  software solutions for unions
  • Solutions in the cloud
  • Staff reflections to industry articles and topics
  • Free tips and downloads
  • Labor Union updates
  • Product announcements
  • And much more!

We will be posting to our blog regularly and we encourage visitor interaction and comments. Commenters can expect to get a prompt response from the JayStar Group staff when suitable. While we do appreciate any interaction with our blog we do ask that comments and language are kept appropriate. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and that being said, any outside comments and visitor replies do not reflect the ideologies of JayStar Group and are opinions of the party that is posting. JayStar Group maintains the right to moderate anything posted by visitors that is deemed as diminishing or offensive to others. We also ask that you do not address customer service related topics through the blog but reach us via our Contact Page.

Here at JayStar Group we will also be looking to spread our reach through various social media outlets. We encourage you to follow us for the latest news and tips on labor unions. Social media links can be found on the top right portion of this page and we welcome you and or company/organization to interact with us.

Over the upcoming months we will be offering a variety of different posts and free downloads as JayStar Group continues to grow, and provide labor unions throughout North America with our software solutions.

If you have suggestions of things you would like to see from our blog, we would love to hear from you. Or for more information or questions about JayStar Group and our labor union software please contact

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