Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Making a Difference this Holiday Season

December 6th, 2005 | Paula Brantner

Fed up with the commercialism of the holiday season? Want to make sure your purchases go toward helping workers, rather than exploiting them? While we can’t wave a wand and make all of the excesses of this time of year go away, we have some suggestions for making a difference with your holiday shopping, if like me, you’re not one of those hyper-organized people who have all of their holiday purchasing completed before Halloween.

Of course, we have to start with ways that you can support Workplace Fairness. Through our partnership with Powell’s Books, a progressive unionized bookstore in Portland, Oregon, every purchase you make will not only support Workplace Fairness, but will support Powell’s mission, as well: “We have a social responsibility to the community and to our industry to fight censorship, promote literary awareness and encourage authors and their works.” While you’re at it, please contribute to our “Recommended Reading List,” where our site visitors share what great books they’re reading these days.

There are a couple of books that we recommend that you don’t have to purchase from Powell’s: our publications Your Rights in the Workplace, and the Federal Employee’s Legal Survival Guide. Available here at our site, our publications are a great gift for anyone who wants to know more about their rights or who may be currently encountering problems at work. Published by Nolo Press, Your Rights in the Workplace is an invaluable reference for every worker in every state, covering all of your rights as an employee, from the first day on the job to the last.

The new 2nd Edition of the Federal Employee’s Legal Survival Guide, already the definitive how-to guide for enforcing the rights of federal employees, has 100 new pages of additional and useful information that no government employee should be without. And if there’s an employment lawyer on your holiday gift list, a subscription to the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal, with its diverse perspectives on legal and law related issues that affect the well-being of employees in the workplace, makes a great gift.

This holiday season, alternative gift fairs are cropping up as a way for those who want to honor friends and relatives with donations to causes that fit their values. The fairs provide critical support for a diverse collection of organizations with established track records of helping people and the environment. In a room filled with tables staffed by representatives of local, national and international charities, you can purchase tax-deductible gifts, ranging from $5 to $100, such as garden plots for urban families in the United States, microenterprise loans to Haitian families, solar cookers for refugees in Kenya, solar water systems for hurricane victims in Honduras, and cargo bicycles for South Africans. (See Alternative Gift Fairs Description.) Here’s where you can find an alternative gift fair near you: Events Calendar, or if there aren’t any upcoming fairs near you, check out the site’s Holiday Shopping Guide.

The Union Shop, hosted by the AFL-CIO, is your source for union-made-in the USA gear and gifts. Whether it’s a “Rosie the Riveter” t-shirt for her, or an “I’m a Little Wobbly” shirt for your little rabblerouser-to-be, you’ll find lots of fun union-related gear here. The Union Shop has links to other union online stores, so you can support whatever union is nearest and dearest to your heart (including our friends at the United Steelworkers — their associate membership program would also be a great gift).

You can also stock up on your anti-Wal-Mart products here, as it should go without saying that you want to avoid at all costs shopping at this mega-retailer over the holidays. (See Wal-Mart: Bad for Workers, Bad for America.) (For those of you who return over the holidays to rural areas where Wal-Mart reigns supreme, this time of year presents a great opportunity for you to educate your friends and family about how Wal-Mart hurts American workers.) If you’re interested in labor books, check out labor’s bookstore, Union Communication Services.

It’s also the time of year when many worthwhile charities make their annual fundraising pitches, and Workplace Fairness is no exception. If over the past year, you’ve derived some benefit from our daily and weekly e-newsletters, our premiere website for workers, or this blog, Today’s Workplace, or you support our work to restore a sense of fairness to working people everywhere, then your contribution to our continued growth and success would be very much appreciated. If you’re involved in litigation, either as an attorney or plaintiff, please join our 1% for Justice program, where your success helps us build a better climate for employee rights advocacy as well as a better future for working people. In the next year, with your support, we will:

  • complete the 2nd generation of our website;
  • use our acclaimed website technology to mobilize workers everywhere;
  • translate our website into Spanish and other languages to serve millions more workers who need help; and
  • leverage our alliances with like-minded organizations to further advance the rights of employees everywhere.

Thanks for your continued support, and happy shopping, everyone!

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