The Dos and Don’ts for an American-Made Fourth of July

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Get excited guys. It’s almost here.

The Fourth of July is upon us, which means barbeques, trips to the beach and plenty of fireworks. But whether you are staying at home or hitting the road, you can still celebrate the holiday in style — and support companies that create jobs here at home.

Here are our dos and don’ts for a festive Fourth.

Don’t: Support Sweatshop Labor with Your Attire

Red, white, and blue is the dress code for the July 4th holiday, and you’ll find plenty of options at your local retailer. The problem? Many of those festive-looking T-shirts, shorts and dresses are made abroad (cough Gap cough), often in sweatshops where workers toil in unsafe conditions. Not the kind of thing to support while celebrating a holiday that honors freedom.  

Do: Outfit Yourself in Patriotic Gear

Fortunately, there are plenty of red, white, and blue outfit options out there that also are manufactured in the United States. Mizzen + Main creates men’s clothing, including BBQ-ready casual shirts, that are designed to “breathe, stretch, and wick away moisture” — and you can find them at retailers like Nordstrom. For the ladies, New Orleans-based Jolie & Elizabeth offers an array of pretty patriotic dresses, including lightweight seersucker for hot summer days. Accessorize with gear from companies like beachy Skipper Bags, flip-flops from Okabashi and Tidal, and sunglasses from Martasand Handmade Sunglasses. Looking for swimsuits? Check out Point Conception. Want something super patriotic? All USA Clothing has you covered. Still not finding what you’re after? Check out our Made in America guide for even more options.

Don’t: Fly a Foreign-Made Flag

There’s nothing that quite packs a patriotic punch quite like the American flag, but unfortunately many of the flags found in big box stores are made in places like China. Ditto for much of the America-themed party gear out there as well.

Do: Decorate with American-Made Flags and Accessories

Good news: It’s easy (and inexpensive) to find a flag that’s manufactured in the United States. Family-owned Annin Flagmakers have been making flags in America since 1847, and you can find their products at major retailers like Walmart, Target, and Amazon. Another option: Valley Forge, which makes its flags entirely of domestic materials. You can find their products online, retailers like Home Depot, and at flag stores across the country.

On the decorations front, skip the big box party supply stores and check out the online options from Norton’s U.S.A., which offers everything from party plates to fun tiaras. Amazon also is a good place to look for American-made party favors like these patriotic tattoos and mustaches.

Don’t: Host an Unpatriotic (and Potentially Unsafe) Barbeque  

Outdoor cookouts are the among the most popular events of the July 4th holiday, but do you know where the food you are serving your guests is coming from? The U.S. imports a lot of food from China, and given China’s shaky history when it comes to food safety, it’s probably best to stick to local sources whenever possible. Meanwhile, we can’t think of anything less patriotic than drinking an imported brew on the Fourth.

Do: Stick to Locally Raised, Grown and Brewed Sources

It’s a great time to find outstanding local food and beverages, from organic options at your local farmer’s market to the aisles of big chain grocery stores. Grilling out? Ball Park, Hebrew National, Oscar Meyer and Johnsonville are all American-made, along with Arnold Bread, Country Hearth Bread and Pillsbury Dinner Rolls. You can also find plenty of Made in America condiments like Guldens, Heinz, and Vlasic (along with many other locally-made sauces).

On the beverage front, big brands like Landshark Lager, Coors, Sam Adams, Blue Moon, Miller Lite and Milwaukee’s Best are all brewed in America — and there are, of course, thousands of options from microbrewers and plenty of union-made options, too. Not into beer? Big brand wines like C.K. Mondavi, Michelle, Franzia, and more are among the union-made options available in most stores; hard liquors like Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Bullet Bourbon also are American-made. On the lighter side, soft drink giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo also produce a variety of beverages on U.S. shores.   

You can serve your guests those drinks in Solo cups, Ball’s Mason Jars, or Tervis cups, all of which are manufactured in the United States. Meanwhile, Fiesta makes its colorful plates, bakeware and more in West Virginia, while Liberty Tabletop bills itself as the only maker of flatware in the United States.

Don’t: Fire Off Foreign Fireworks

The Washington Post reported in June that one Chinese businessman is now the largest supplier of pyrotechnics in the United States — companies founded by Ding Yan Zhong have sent 241 million pounds of fireworks into the United States so far this year. That raises significant questions about the overall competitiveness of the overall industry — and who wants to celebrate a foreign monopoly on the Fourth of July?

Do: Pick an American-Made Firework

American Fireworks was founded by an Italian immigrant in 1899, and is still family-owned and operated in Hudson, Ohio. Black Cat also offers a variety of Made in the USA fireworks for your outdoor celebration, and Diamond Sparklers are a great way to light up the night as well. But remember: Safety first, and be sure to verify that it is legal to set off fireworks in your area.

For more American-made options, check out our Made in America Directory. Is one of your Fourth favorites not on the list? Let us know on Twitter via @KeepItMadeinUSA.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work