The Union Label and Services Trade Department (ULSTD) of the AFL-CIO promotes products created by union members by producing and distributing union labels, shop cards, and store cards. ULSTD also distributes newsletters to AFL-CIO members recommending the purchase of union-made products, organizes boycotts against union opponents, and informs members about union affairs.
Do Buy and Don’t Buy List
The Union Label and Services Trade Department produces a monthly “Do Buy” list of union-produced products from beer and pet food to Halloween supplies. In June 2021, the ULSTD released a list of endorsed U.S. National Parks that employ union members. 1 In 2018, the ULSTD released an app for tracing its approved products. 2
ULSTD also produces monthly “Don’t Buy” lists of allegedly anti-union businesses that the AFL-CIO is publicly boycotting. 3
Richard Kline has been the president of the Union Label and Services Trade Department since 2008. Kline rose through the ranks of union officeholding at first as a member of the American Federation of Teachers, and then the National Education Association, while also working in communications for the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers International Union for 31 years. 4
Non-Union Contractor Controversy
In February 1996, the Washington Post reported that the Union Label and Services Trade Department was using a non-union design studio to produce its monthly newsletter, which informed the AFL-CIO’s 13 million members which businesses to boycott for using non-union personnel. Then-ULSTD president Charlie Mercer said he was “embarrassed” by the revelation and attributed the oversight to a lack of unionization among designers. 5
- “Do Buy.” Union Label. Accessed September 27, 2021. https://unionlabel.org/do-buy/.
- “There’s an App for That.” CNBA. April 24, 2018. Accessed September 27, 2021. http://www.kcnba.org/index.cfm?zone=/unionactive/view_article.cfm&HomeID=684332.
- “Don’t Buy.” Union Label. Accessed September 27, 2021. https://unionlabel.org/dont-buy/.
- “Union Label and Service Trades Department Executive Council.” Union Label. Accessed September 27, 2021. https://unionlabel.org/ulstd-executive-board/name/richard-kline-1/.
- Swoboda, Frank. “Where the Label Wasn’t.” Washington Post. February 3, 1996. Accessed September 27, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/business/1996/02/03/where-the-label-wasnt/46e6f1b2-71b6-49ac-89ef-0479ffc1c43c/.