“Look for the union label,” was a familiar jingle following WWII. This ad campaign, paid for with funds from union dues, was heard over the airways for many years after the war was over.
This public awareness effort was designed to convenience consumers that better quality products, made by Americans, always carried a union logo. This also had an added side benefit of letting union members know their leaders were working on their behalf, since union membership in the private sector was at its peak back in the 1950s.
However, there were many products made in America that did not use union labor; and imports were gaining popularity, especially premium products from Europe and cheaper ones from Asia (called the Orient in the days before political correctness). Along the way European prices came down and Asian quality, primarily Japanese-made, went up.
With manufacturing taking place in emerging nations and Americans looking for lower prices, cheap is considered good. But we are learning that value is made up of quality and service along with a reasonable price. How well and how long does a product perform is the first criteria? Does the manufacturer stand behind the product, and have people you know had a favorable experience using it? After that, the price compared to other products should be evaluated in order to determine if it represents a true value.
Products made in America do not always win on the three-point scale, but they often rank high. There are many familiar brands that are owned by companies headquartered in other countries. Some folks say not to buy these products because the profits end up in the pockets of foreign firms. But if it’s made here that means jobs for American workers. Right now, this is of utmost importance.
Floating around the Internet is a letter suggesting we don’t buy some brands that were once owned by US manufacturers and select the private label brands instead. The writer of the piece may not realize that many of the better-known brands owned by off-shore companies are made here. They also spend money on advertising, which helps support the communications business while the store brands simply go along for the ride by competing only on price.
Yes, it would be nice to have more American firms providing us with more buying options. But the consumer must be willing to pay a little more for a better product. Human nature being what it is, it is unlikely we will buy things just because they are made in the USA. Although knowing that our favorite brand keeps Americans working may be a factor in staying with that product.
So if the product is American made that’s good for our economy. Should it be from an American owned company, too, that’s even better. Of course, some ingredients or parts may come from other countries and be put together here. Will we ever know for sure?