DO YOU CHAFE BECAUSE YOU ARE WEARING MADE-IN-CHINA UNDERWEAR?

Lately, we have been more active on social media than we have been in the past. We are doing it not to promote so much as to engage. We are engaging ourselves.

We post and blog, but we also read other peoples posts and blogs for information and ideas. We follow clients and competitors and all in all we enjoy the give-and-take of our social media platforms.

Anyone familiar with social media knows that opinions are strong and stronger again when posted above an anonymous signature. Political correctness is easily dispensed with when no-one knows your name.

Occasionally, we wonder what the internal dialogue is like when a Union Manager on the same day will post an affirmative message about the importance of Unions to society and then bypass Union Shops when purchasing goods and services for the membership.

Most of our customers are up front with us. They tell us that when it is possible to make on-shore purchases of the goods and services they require, then that is what they do.

For these customers, where opportunities exist to buy Union Made goods, Union Shops get the business. These Union Managers would understand the difference between “talking the talk” and “walking the walk”.

We had a dialogue here at NIE Plus about what our values are and we came to the conclusion that it is not the off-shoring of labour that we have trouble with. We are a global community and everyone has the right to earn a living. Globalization itself has provided a better standard of living for more people in the world than any other movement in history.

The pendulum of globalization however has swung fully in one direction and is now swinging back. We know that prices are lower off-shore, but we also know that providing a decent standard of living through commerce can only get you so far. The political will of an off-shore nation to provide decent wages and safe working conditions for labour will always stand against our desires to help through commerce.

We are a Local.

It is not surprising that the smaller Locals are more likely to source locally and with Union Shops. Perhaps it has to do with all those zeros that a large Local will decide to go offshore for cost savings.

Financial responsibility is one thing, but we wonder (out loud, but not for the first time) if those Locals have had the internal dialogue with management and membership alike to see if these purchasing decisions are in-line with the values of the Union itself.

We can’t help but think that it must chafe union members a little when pulling on a Made-in-China hoodie, emblazoned with the Union’s logo and pro-worker message.

Some individuals may not recognize the hypocrisy of wearing that piece of clothing and there is nothing wrong with being unaware of that, but the leaders and the manager of the Unions owe it to themselves and to the membership at large to at least have the dialogue.

The challenge is to have a policy that reflects your values. When something makes sense for an organization it should be no trouble to write it down:

A.   LUNCH IS FROM 12 – 1.

B.   WE PRACTICE PROGRESSIVE DISCIPLINE.

C.   WHERE OPPORTUNITIES EXIST, WE BUY FIRST FROM UNION SHOPS, THEN FROM ON-SHORE SUPPLIERS, THEN FROM ETHICAL OFFSHORE SUPPLIERS - BEFORE WE LOOK ANYWHERE ELSE; OR

D.   PRICE AND QUALITY ARE THE ONLY DETERMINING FACTOR WE CONSIDER WHEN MAKING A PURCHASE.

We do not take issue with “D” if that makes sense for your Union. We are encouraging the dialogue to take place and if statement “D” is in-line with your Union’s values - that is your decision to make.

At NIE Plus, no employee is currently working for minimum wage. It makes good business sense for us to be a decent employer, paying a living wage simply because retaining staff is more cost effective than training new staff.

At NIE Plus, we have had a word with ourselves:

A.   OUR ETHICS AND BELIEFS ARE REFLECTED IN OUR BUSINESS PRACTICES.