VOICE ARTICLE (May/June 1997)

Computers, E-Mail, the Internet and more!

"Buying a Union Made Computer. Is it Possible?"

By Spence F. Burton, Former President Branch 214 -- Webmaster for Branch 214 and the CSALC
(Part eight of a series on computers.com)

In this issue, I will cover a little about what software is available to NALC Branches and members for grievance handling/tracking and membership records. Also, I will briefly discuss why "Buying Union" made computers is dubious at best!

To my knowledge, there are three general NALC Branch software packages available currently. While more may exist, several are variations of one of the main three packages. All three of these packages are for the Windows Platform.

A company called "Union Friendly" was the earliest entry into the grievance/membership records field of software. They have software which will aid you in keeping accurate records of virtually all branch records and grievances. Cost of the package is over $1,000.

The Tampa, Florida NALC Branch also produces a package similar to the one above, but with several Postal Service manuals etc. on disk also included. Their cost, also over $1,000.

Our Branch, through the efforts of Tony Gallardo and others, has assembled a membership database format and integrated grievance system that works with Lotus Approach for Windows. The original "database" etc., was developed by a branch in the northeast. All grievance forms generated by the system are acceptable as "official" appeals forms by the USPS. The grievance system is closely integrated with the membership roster, so by simply typing in the Social Security Number of a member the entire "heading" of any grievance form is imported directly from the membership database. Cost for this system… FREE! Of course you do have to buy a copy of Lotus Approach if you don’t already own a copy, but Approach sells for less than $100! If you want of a copy of this system, contact our Branch Office for more information. Of course, if you are from another Branch it wouldn’t hurt to send Tony a blank disk and a self addressed stamped "disk mailer." If you care to make a donation to COLCPE, the Saxenmeir Scholarship Fund for the State of California, or our Branch Building Fund, that is your choice! Tony will send you a copy either way!

Now a little about "Union Made" computers!

The last time I checked, in 1996, there were two companies manufacturing "Union Made" computers in the USA. When I first learned of their claim, I had my doubts about how they could be Union Made, but since I had no evidence to refute their claims, I accepted them as true. Since then I have been in oral contact with one of these companies since the last State Convention, trying to get a detailed list of the components of one of their "Union" computers. I received material at the convention, and received additional material in the mail soon thereafter. This particular company is authorized to place the UNION LABEL on all of their computers that they assemble, since all of the workers are members of a union. Of course, all of the workers for this company are also the owners. No problem with that though, as long as they pay their dues!

Not everything made in the USA

When I questioned their representative concerning the "content" of the computers they assemble, he began to "hedge". They do have a monitor that is made in the USA, and possibly union made, and they do buy the computer cases from a Union manufacturer in the USA also. As far as getting an exact "specification" sheet showing ALL of the components in their computers, that is impossible. I was told that since they make the computers to order it would be impossible to say exactly what was union made. I pressed the point and was told that most of the components were made in the USA but none of their material tells me what these components are??? They don’t even state if their RAM chips are made in the USA rather than some "third world" country. Their "mother board" was made in the USA, but they didn’t know if it was Union Made.

Buy Union

My point is, that as Union Brothers and Sisters it is our Duty & Responsibility to BUY UNION when at all possible. What exactly is Union Made is another story that each of you will have to decide upon! If you do buy a computer from one of these Union companies, check for more than the Union Label…. make sure that as many components of the computer as possible is Union Made or at the very least made in the USA. Micron is the largest USA producer of RAM chips, yet most people buy RAM made in Korea or elsewhere. Check the RAM in your own computer, and I will wager that well over 90% of the computers you check have a different country imprinted on the RAM chips! When you Buy Union, insist on Union Made components, not a box containing "sweat shop" produced chips etc., simply "assembled" by a Union Worker!
Speaking of Buying Union, did you know that the ONLY UNION "long distance" telephone company in the USA is AT&T! How many members and Union Locals have MCI as their long distance carrier???
More on computers and peripherals (including scanners, and speakers) in upcoming issues of the VOICE!

If you have recently purchase a computer or peripheral, please share your experience and comments with us. Don’t forget to visit the Branch and State Association Webpages, and the NALC National Webpage now has the entire text of the NALC Health Plan available online, together with additional information on the Plan!

If you want more information about anything in this article, or have any suggestions for future articles, or computer usage in the NALC, you can reach me at:
Spence F. Burton
PO Box 5522 Petaluma, CA 94955-5522
E-Mail me at: sfburton@SpenceBurton.com
My Personal WEB page: http://SpenceBurton.com
The California State Association WEB page: http://csalc.org
Golden Gate Branch 214 WEB page: http://nalc214.org
The NALC National Web page: http://nalc.org/

If you want to have your WEB Page "linked" to mine, or want to have your WEB site listed in a future issue of The Voice, just let me know. Most other NALC branches (with Web sites) have direct links from my site.

Together we can help bring our union into the 21st Century!

This page was originally placed online:  June 6, 1997
This page was last updated (LINKS ONLY): February 13, 2005
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Questions, comments, suggestions should be addressed to: Spence F. Burton at: NALC214@SpenceBurton.com

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