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Make It a Union-Made Mother’s Day

Via AFL-CIO Now blog


Mother’s Day is less than a week away (May 8), so you have no excuse for waiting until the last minute to find a nice tribute for mom that also carries the union label. Our friends at Labor 411, the union business directory from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, can help you out.

If you want to go the traditional route with some top-of-the-line chocolates, take a look at these from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).


  • Ghirardelli
  • Hershey’s
  • Russell Stover
  • See’s Candies

If she deserves a little pampering, try health and beauty products made by UFCW and UAW members.

Beauty Products

  • Caress skin care
  • Dove beauty care
  • L’Oréal
  • Revlon

Union Plus members also receive a 25% discount on flowers from Teleflora or gift baskets from GiftTree.

If your mom enjoys an occasional libation—particularly on her special day—click here for a list of beverages, from small batch bourbons like Basil Hayden’s, Blanton’s and Booker’s; beers, from Budweiser to Goose Island; and wines and champagne, from fruity screw tops to fine vintages. Mother’s Day cocktail hour is brought to you by the Machinists (IAM), the Operating Engineers (IUOE), the Teamsters, the United Farm Workers, the UAW and the UFCW.

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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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Remembering Pete Seeger

pete seeger

(Photo: Bruce Davidson/Magnum)

Pete Seeger died today. Pete Seeger was an individual who seemed almost immortal to me. I started playing folk guitar when I was about 14 years old and later sang in a folk group. A lot of the songs I sang were written by Pete. A few years ago I acquired a 1964 long neck “Pete Seeger” banjo, the real article made by Vega of Boston with a handwritten yellow label inside saying “Pete Seeger”. Pete lived not too far from here so I sent a letter to him asking if he would sign my banjo, never really expecting any reply. I did get a reply from Pete’s wife, Toshi. The letter was addressed and handwritten by Toshi and there was also a “form letter” from Pete saying that he found it hard to answer the thousands of letters he received on an individual basis. Toshi suggested I come to the Clearwater coffee house and Pete might find time to sign the banjo. I never did make it to concerts that he attended there but I still have the letter (and of course the banjo). Apart from the foregoing personal memories, I also wanted to stress in this blog that Pete Seeger was a staunch supporter of unions and wrote many songs in that vein. In that respect he was following another great folk singer – Woody Guthrie.

Pete Seeger was politically a controversial personality and whether you agreed with him or not he was a man of great principles and was unafraid to voice his opinions – usually in a peaceful way through his songs. In a day and age where our politicians’ principles seem to be in ever decline and even blatantly up for sale in some cases, we should pause and consider that this country has lost a great American, and a great friend to unions.

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