Often, we discuss labor issues and fair working practices around the world on this blog, as well as providing products that meet these high standards. But we take for granted the work that labor unions did within the US and the issues that still exist here.  As you may remember, labor unions formed in the face of poor and low paying working conditions within the US in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Labor unions have been a huge force in the United States, protecting workers in factories to farms, and even school teachers.  However, we must not forget there are always going to be struggles.

With the US economy struggling, many people are calling for a cut back in government spending. Obviously, when you want to save money, cutting back will help do the trick but where do you cut from and at what cost?  Much like balancing your personal finances, you must figure out where you have to cut back.  Unfortunately, cuts are often made from crucial social programs such as education and healthcare.

One huge blow to American worker’s rights happened this week.  Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker purposed a budget which would eliminate government employee unions.  According to Change.org this would  “dismantle the collective bargaining rights of state employees and to force state employees to take a sharp pay cut to help pay for benefits.” He also stated he would call in the National Guard to “bust” any workers protesting, in true union busting form taken straight out of a history book.

Attempting to dismantle unions as well as threatening people who are using their democratic right to voice their opinions with an army is dangerous ground to walk on. Tens of thousands of Wisconsin residents have been protesting at the Capitol for three days to push lawmakers to vote against the new budget. In true grassroots form, people from all over the state came to show their support of unions including members of other unions. The vote was scheduled to take place today, but the Democratic members avoided the meeting in hopes of persuading the Republicans to discuss a different budget plan. However, many people around the country are showing their support by writing Wisconsin state senators to vote no on this bill.

We understand there must be budget cuts during a time like this, however, there are other places to slash the budget than employee rights and benefits. The scariest part of this move is that it could influence other states to cut worker’s rights. So please take a moment to support your Wisconsin brothers and sisters and sign Change.org’s petition today.

With the election of Obama to the White House many groups are hoping he brings real change. Shortly after the election, Change.org  hosted a contest for ten ideas for Obama to change in America. Online viewers were asked to vote on their favorite ideas! Winners included legalizing medicinal and recreational marijuana use, making the grid green, and a repeal of the Patriot Act. But before voting ended one idea gained many votes and caught our eye: “Declare the White House a Fair Trade Zone.”

1208885597_4795-300x194Even though this idea didn’t win the contest of the top ten ideas, its still a thought to keep in mind. And really transitioning the White House into a Fair Trade Zone may be easier than you think. The residence already has Starbucks coffee served at official events. What if they switched it out to Equal Exchange or Grounds for Change?  According to Fair Trade LA, Obama already has an affinity for Honest Tea, Equal Exchange, and Just Coffee. It would be a pretty simple change! On top of coffee we would love to see change over to fair trade chocolate, sugar, olive oil, and even bananas!

Could Fair Trade make its way into the most famous house on the hill? Maybe not right now.  But we shouldn’t give up the cause even though the idea didn’t win the competition. Keep spreading the word about fair trade products to your friends and family or join a fair trade campaign! Keep placing pressure on our leaders and the Obama administration and maybe we will see some real change!

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