Why it matters that the US Olympic Team will wear Chinese made uniforms

There are all kinds of reasons why it does not matter, apparently, that the US Athletes participating in this summer’s Olympics in London will be wearing uniforms made in China. These reasons are things like “Everything is made in China” and “They don’t make clothing in America anyway” and so on and so forth. But there are also reasons that it matters and that team should, in fact, be wearing uniforms made in US shops. Union shops.

Did you know that when a political party runs a candidate or pushes an issue, and they make t-shirts, bumper stickers, and other artifacts of rhetoric, they get those things produced in US based union shops? Why? Because they are patriotic. Even the Republicans are patriotic about this. To demonstrate and document this patriotism, the design of these shirts and other items typically includes the “Union Bug.” The Union Bug is a little icon thingie that marks an item as Union produced.

The Union Bug tells everyone what whoever produced this shirt cares about American Workers and the American Economy. Not that we hate the Chinese or anything. But still...

Political candidates do this because people who represent Americans in the American Government should be supporting American workers. One can argue all one wants about union (and if you are anti-union, your arguments would be stupid, but that’s for another time) but one sure fire way to support American workers is to have your t-shirts and Literature printed up in a Union Shop.

If you are a company who wants Americans to buy your stuff you should be buying their stuff. You should have your literature and base ball caps or whatever other artifacts of marketing you produce made down the street in your local union shop, not in China. If you are an activist organization and you are trying to clean up the environment or improve social justice or whatever, you should have your literature and shirts produced in a union shop, where workers conditions are (relatively) guaranteed and a living wage is ensured. It is the way humans should treat each other, the way politicians should act, and the way organization should implement their outreach and information flow.

I would love to add this: As long as the Olymic Team is taking taxpayer money, they should be buying their uniforms from taxpayers. But the US Government does not fund the US Olympic team. And they should. But since they don’t, that is not part of the argument.

But the argument still holds. We can’t do much about what people do when they shop at JC Penny’s and Target. It is very difficult to be a human in this country and not by a lot of products made by underpaid workers in horrible conditions who are taking away your neighbor’s jobs, etc. etc. And we can even be annoyed at US industry. I gave up a long time ago on buying cars produced by American automakers, because they were using their American-ness as a sales gimmick and producing crap (in my price range). Now, I intentionally own a car that is made 100% by American workers in America in an environmentally friendly plant. The 1%ers who own the plant, however, are not Americans. They are Japanese. Nani nani boo boo, Detroit, you’re doin’ it rong!

Oh, and the Uniforms look stupid. Well, not stupid, really, but annoyingly militaristic. If I was an Olympic athlete, I’d wear something else during big parade. I’d be wearing my carhartts.

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