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Protesters demand Primark look for the union label

Primark protesters

Crag Caplan watched Somerville Honk musicians join a protest this afternoon at the new Primark downtown demanding the store buy union-made clothes.

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Will cost $30?

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All so you can subsidize these union employees out working hard on a Friday.

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making $0.06 per hour works hard and has a bright future. All without paying union dues.

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making $0.06 per hour works hard and has a bright future

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/bangladesh-factory-building-collapse-death-toll...

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I'd rather pay more for something that is high quality and will last, than something that I'll toss within a year.

I'd pay even more for American made. (like I just did with the peacoat)

Why can't business figure out that some of us will pay more for quality, American made goods?

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For teens who are still growing? Not so much.

My older guy has started curating better pieces, though. He loves Keizers near Central Square, Cambridge.

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yes you are correct about that. ;) And teens are a bit more fashion conscious than many adults because they want to look 'cool and hip' so they always want new stuff every year (even if they don't grow out of the old stuff yet). So yeah maybe cheaper clothes are the way to go for cost minded parents.

But I think there needs to be options for both too. Right now, there's few options for American made, quality clothes that cost a bit more. Yeah there's some higher end brands for adults, but even those are all made over seas. (take a look at some of the high end Macy's stuff.. its still made in the same factories in Asia, very little of it is US made)

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Keezers.

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Great in concept - doesn't work for most products.

I worked for an athletic shoe manufacturer. Almost all of our shoes were made in Asia (first in Korea, then in Taiwan, then in China and now China and Indonesia). The shoes generally sold for $49 retail up to about $199 - of course less after discounts, sales and closeouts (the price difference was mostly due to materials - especially waterproofing technology). We continued to make our flagship line of shoes in Brockton up until a few years ago when the factory was closed because once the financial crisis hit there was almost nobody left that was willing to pay the $300 per pair that they cost.

Not sure about the Chinese shoe factory - but in the overseas glove factory in a remote area of Thailand workers were paid probably $1 an hour plus room, board and medical - we owned the factory and it was a very nice and safe work environment. We had our pick of labor - especially women because there was little to no other work in the area. Many women in the area quite literally opted for prostitution as an only desperate alternative.

Oh - and the quality of those products? To this day they are worn by virtually every top professional in the world who can get any product they want for free. The ones that don't use those products are literally paid a lot of money not to wear them.

I agree with you in principle. But for most businesses (short of Tiffany's and a few other luxury brands), if you do that you will be out of business in very short order.

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ignores the ethical questions involved (see my post in this thread on "The True Cost of Cheap Clothing.")

Should I support the tobacco industry, and all those hard-working farmers, even though their product kills half a million Americans a year? Gee, I guess wouldn't want to stand in the way of *profit!* Light me up!

Volkswagens that poison the atmosphere by cheating environmental testing? How else are we going to sell diesel cars as green? Eat my black exhaust, gullible hippie!

Sure, Big Food has exploited heavy government subsidies on wheat, corn and soybeans (that were originally designed to fight poverty) to fill your supermarkets and fast-food restaurants and school cafeterias with highly-processed foods that are killing you with diabetes and heart disease. But what are you going to do: fight Monsanto? Your notions about the public good vs. the imperatives of capitalism are so quaint!

I could go on about oil, guns, pharmaceutical opioids, Casino Wall Street, and DraftKings, but you get the idea.

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If I buy union made in America all this goes away?

If there's a market for what you're pitching - go for it. You will be a very wealthy person.

In the meantime more people across the globe are living healthier, wealthier, better and longer. I would say that the public good and the imperatives of capitalism are more than quaint - they are extremely well aligned at least to this moment in history (we'll see if some of the things you point out reverse those trends). Not saying there aren't areas we can improve and problems we can solve - but my guess is capitalism will probably solve those problems long before anyone else does.

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It's been very good to me. But I worry that the balance has swung way too far in favor of corporate and one-percenter profits, based on a kind of "I got mine, up yours" mentality that has gutted the middle class in America. I'm a technologist who has risen from humble roots to modest prosperity with some help from government largesse, like quality public education, cheap student loans, and middle-class tax breaks. But that mid-century dream of upward mobility that I have lived is largely dead for a huge percentage of the citizenry, and I think that's a tragedy for this country, a betrayal of what we used to stand for.

Will technology solve giant existential threats like global warming? Lord, I hope so, but as someone who has spent a lot of his career in risk management, that seems like a horrible bet right now, and the insurance industry and our military, the most skilled risk managers on the planet, agree. Is our political system paralyzed by the interests of a tiny, wealthy few over the 99%? I think you'd have to be blind not to see that.

In that context, not buying shitty clothes from Primak is surely a tiny, futile gesture. But at least I'm not standing in line for the scratchie with the prize that says that the invisible hand of the market will somehow miraculously start looking out for the giant chunk of the citizenry that a once modestly-regulated American capitalism used to. Your optimistic take sounds too much like junk science or religion to me. Much as this lifelong consumer of hopeful science fiction would like to believe, I'm not buying it.

The good news? You and I will be dead before most of those dread chickens come home to roost, deaf to the complaints of our progeny that our generation ruined their future with our willful, short-sighted greed..Too bad it's a fallen world.

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Your post is fine, I get what you're trying to say about materials and labor but you're missing two big point.

Share holders. (and the other one being what Slim has said about ethical practices; whether it's OK to pay people dirty poor wages for hard labor)

Someone is making money off those shoes. And don't tell me those 199 dollar shoe cost 198 dollars in materials to make. Sorry I don't buy that one bit. I bet it's more like 20-30 dollars in materials. So its costing you 2 bucks in labor (2 hours), and.. I'll be generous.. 50 bucks in materials. That shoe company is making 148 dollars per shoe.

Your argument doesn't hold water because of that. Maybe if the share holders took LESS, we could move those same jobs back to the US for US Made products. See how that works? But it wont happen because the current business mentality is to squeeze as much money out of a product as possible. This is why we have cheap clothes.. keeping the costs down, while maximizing shareholder profit.

I understand that making money is capitalism, but there's a fine like between 'making profit' and pure greed. And I think pure greed is why jobs and industry have moved over seas.. gotta maximize that profit as much as possible.

And I just don't buy the argument. Until the 1980s we made many products here, but IMHO, getting materials to make those products has gotten easier and cheaper to get to the US since then. But to squeeze more profit out of each product, they went to cheaper labor. I'm sorry I just don't buy your argument.

You said "Quality" and "Professional Sports players" in the same sentence. But you forgot one thing, these people can afford to buy those 199 dollar shoes and have multiple pairs of them. SO they never really see the 'quality', and I'm sure if they have a problem with the quality, they don't think much of it. They toss them, and get another pair. I think what I am trying to say here is that you'll never see the quality of a product if its only used a day or two out of each month. Wake me up when they wear the same pair of shoes daily to see the real quality if they hold up or not.

However...... I'll give you this. I'm pretty sure I know which athletic shoe company you're talking about, and if it is what I am thinking, they are the only pairs of shoes I buy (due to them being one of the few brands that has 4E sizes), and yes there's quality there. Far better than many competitors where the sole will fall off within a few months. I think with me, I wear the sole out (the tread) before anything else. (or that and feet stank just has take over and it's not feisable to wear stinky shoes anymore at work) So every six months I'm buying new sneakers.

And I don't buy your argument that there's no market out there and people won't buy more expensive things. Yes, you are correct in regards to the average WalMart shopper. Yeah they won't buy those. But I just have to look at the "Organic" food industry to see how well a higher price for a quality product will sell like hot cakes. So it can be done, and there is a market out there. And for the sheer fact that our society has dictated the mentality of "low prices" so people now want, and demand, low prices on things. Maybe if that mentality changes, we will request better products that we're willing to pay for. (but it's a catch 22, american workers need to be paid more to be able to afford higher quality products, but we can't pay people more if there aren't any good paying jobs!)

I'm not trying to jump on your shit, Stevil, because I do get why companies do this, but I also understand that we're in this pickle because of this too.

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.

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Keep in mind that's the "suggested retail" on the product. On a $200 shoe - the retailer probably sells that for +/- $150. The wholesaler - the actual manufacturer assuming there is a direct sales force - sells them net - after spiffs, volume discount etc. etc. for about 50-55% of retail. Take off all the costs in addition to manufacturing and the pretax profit is probably about 15% for a branded item. Less for a non-branded. It's a VERY tough biz (we once had to eat a bunch of shoes in two particular countries because they reacted with something in the grass that literally disintegrated the sole - never figured out exactly what caused it and only happened in two-three countries in the world - baffling).

Note - I had a conversation with the founder one day who talked about the decision to go overseas. He had no desire to get into outsourcing and the decision ultimately wasn't about profits - it was about survival - had he not gone overseas not only would the manufacturing people be out of work but it's likely all the value added jobs (executive, marketing, R&D, engineering etc) would now be in Germany or even Asia.

One thing I will say - we give away the store on both worker welfare and the environment. I don't run the world - but if I did a country's exports would be taxed more heavily if they didn't do certain things - like provide a national pension/social security system or violated certain environmental protocols - yes China and India - I mean you. I'm hugely in favor of a VAT because while I'm a fan of capitalism as noted above - wait for it - even Stevil doesn't believe in unfettered capitalism and America shouldn't be paying for the abuses of certain countries!

If you are buying 4E in Brockton made shoes (or used to because the factory closed about 6 years ago - yes - you are probably buying from my former employer - 4E!!! - and yes you are a bear!)

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First off, thanks for taking the high road ;) I wasn't trying to attack you and I appreciate your comments.

Keep in mind that's the "suggested retail" on the product.

Correct. I buy those shoes at outlet prices so I know I don't pay that much. So I knew there was something about that price that wasn't right. Then again some other athletic shoes (*cough* Nike *cough*) can cost that much. (which I refuse to do, for sneakers that I will throw away within six months)

. I'm hugely in favor of a VAT because while I'm a fan of capitalism as noted above - wait for it - even Stevil doesn't believe in unfettered capitalism and America shouldn't be paying for the abuses of certain countries!

*clap*clap*clap* I am in favor of a VAT also. More because it would even the playing field, and would remove the way we're 'fee'd' and 'taxed' to death. One flat tax is what I call it.

If you are buying 4E in Brockton made shoes (or used to because the factory closed about 6 years ago - yes - you are probably buying from my former employer - 4E!!! - and yes you are a bear!)

There's only two makers that make 4E shoes. At least in styles that I would buy. The other one I refuse to buy anymore after I bought pair of dress shoes that had a known 'defect' in then that caused the sole to split. The retail store (was a company store) refused to do nothing about it, not even a refund. After that I said no more.

I wear 4E's... not only because I have wide feet (not long, but wide), but I wear half sizes AND most shoes make my feet hurt after 5 minutes. I can wear a pair a 2E without it being snug, but within minutes my whole foot seizes up and I'm in pain alot of pain So I'm stuck with 4E or I have to go up a size and then my foot slide around everywhere inside the shoe (which is unsafe and uncomfortable)

And yes I am a bear with big feet.

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Our leading 3E market was Japan. Short, wide feet. Actually if you look at the statistical distribution that's the way feet tend to grow - shorter feet are wider, longer feet are narrower. somehow genetics seems to dictate that our feet are roughly the same in volume - but we all get different proportions.

Always appreciate the exchanges Cybah - even if we don't always agree. I try to think of myself as a moderate conservative (pretty liberal socially, fiscal conservative) - but out here that can make you feel like vast one man right wing conspiracy!

Suggestion - if you are buying a pair of laced shoes - don't buy the shoes where the opening comes to a V at the bottom. Buy the styles where the opening is straight up and down on both sides and separated at the bottom. If you go to a good shoe store, talk to them about the different last styles. The "shape" of the shoe can sometimes be as important as the size. Also - feet tend to widen a little as you age - so you may need a wider or longer shoe after the age of about 40. - Cheers.

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the manufacturing costs are more like $5, according to Stephon Marbury, who recently called out Michael Jordan for the prices he charges for Air Nikes. (Marbury sells his signature shoes for $15.)

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There's a lot more to the cost of a shoe than manufacturing it - and I'm not talking sneakers - I'm talking leather shoes, cutting edge waterproofing technology (you'd be surprised), molded outsoles, R&D to reduce pressure from cleats, stability and a host of other things. That's before marketing and distribution, warehousing, closeouts etc.

Nike is a hugely profitable company - but I'd bet if you took the costs out of those $300 shoes specifically - where they only sell maybe few thousand pairs - there's not a lot of margin and may even be a money loser. Marketing, distribution, promotion - it all counts and by the time those shoes land on a dealer's shelves - there's not a lot left.

I'd be highly suspect of a $15 pair of shoes - even basketball shoes. And as others have posted - that's where the abuses happen. There are news companies looking to catch dirt on Nike. Nobody cares about Starbury (I thought Starbury's were a candy?)

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$50 for a t-shirt, $300 for a pair of jeans, $400 for a pair of shoes and $800 for a jacket? Must be nice being you...

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Please explain the basis of your calculations.

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Even better.. what clothes are even American Made?!? (except American Apparel) Most clothes at most department stores are made overseas now.

(ok ok I just bought a peacoat that was made in East Boston)

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Like...in modern times or are you going for extreme vintage? Either way very cool. And yeah--that was my thought when I saw these guys--are any of them wearing a stitch of clothing made in the U.S. let alone by Union members? I wish it were an option but aside from f'ing American Apparel I can't remember the last time I saw any.

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Non-of their stupid instruments are Union made. They should probably stop tooting......I won't!

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I assume you're asking about the Pea coat. ;)

Yes in modern times. Brand new. It replaces my Old Navy one, which has lasted 10 years and shows it too. (its very ragged now). I LOVE my pea coat.. I've tried replacing it with a parka (Columbia), but the pea coat just fits better (and looks better on me)

Actually there's two pea coat manufacturers in Metro Boston.

One is Sterlingwear. which is the company the US Navy contracts to manufacture their pea coats. They are in East Boston on McClellan Highway. www.sterlingwear.com

The other one is Fidelity Sportswear, which are made in Everett on Bow Street. www.fidelitysportswear.com

On a different note.. some of LL Bean's stuff is made in the USA but most is outsourced now (at least what their website says). And I agree about American Apperal.. I'm a bit of a bear, so their clothes never fit right (and often shrink a size after washing!!)

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NOTHING BEATS STERLINGWEAR!

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Good to know!

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"There used to be more of us in the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, but a lot of our jobs have disappeared. A lot of the clothes Americans are buying for women and kids are imports; they're being made in foreign places.
 
When the work's done here, we can support our families, and pay our taxes, and buy the things other Americans make. That's what it means when the label says Union."
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"This is no import; we made this blouse. We belong to the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and we have sewn our Union Label right in here.
 
It tells you we're able to do what every American wants to do — have a job doing honest work for decent wages. When you see the Union Label, think of us; making a living, making your clothes; right here in America."
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How about they take their protest underground to the red line and play 'NEARER MY GOD TO ME' in honor of the (T)itanic and its daily disasters.

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Everything from department stores is made in china these days...get over it.

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even once you get past the reality that only 3% of the clothes bought in America are American-made, never mind union-made. This article and the documentary that inspired it are eye-opening.

It's a tough argument to make to the 99% of Americans whose earnings and prospects have been steadily shrinking since the Reagan era, but it's always better to invest in quality clothing that has some longevity. Wish I'd learned that lesson when I was much younger.

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but it's always better to invest in quality clothing that has some longevity. Wish I'd learned that lesson when I was much younger.

Agreed. And even the overseas made ones in the past 10-15 years have gone down in quality. The products just get more cheaply made. Stitching will fall out, buttons not sew'd on very well, cheap plastic zippers. I've thrown away so many clothes that have just fall apart after a year or so.

I have a few select items that I have from the 90s (that don't look dated) that I still wear, and will take to a tailor to have fixed when a button or seam comes undone because they are just that well made.

My pea coat is a good example of this. The old coat.. I think I got it at Old Navy in 2001. Yes, Old Navy. The thing has lasted forever (with the occasional button being re-sewn on). And has a nice quilted inside. I've been going Old Navy year after year wanting a new one, and I notice the quality just has gone way down hill now. No quilted liner, cheap buttons, and it just feels cheap. I won't buy one because of that. Ya I know it's old navy, but it's just an example how the quality of things has just gone way down hill.

This is why I'm not overly excited about Primark or H&M stuff. It's throw away clothes that will fall apart within a year. You do get what you pay for sometimes.

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in vintage clothing. I own pieces that are seventy years old and will outlive me. Quality shoes, well-cared-for (shoe trees and the occasional polish, guys!), will outlast ten pairs of fast-casual junk and look infinitely better. (I bit the bullet on that score when I learned to my shock that women often take careful note of them.) But it's a tough calculus to embrace when you're struggling to pay rent and the smartphone bill and college loans.

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And yeah--Bobby's. Sometimes it really seems as if there is so much high quality vintage clothing around--especially for men--that aside from shoes, socks and underwear, you could easily, comfortably and stylish exist on vintage alone. Buy wool, buy cotton, buy linen, take decent care of it and you'll be great.

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great-quality vintage clothing, even with incredible local resources like Bobby's. Two reasons: some of us are rather taller (and, ahem, larger) than the average dude of days of yore, and few retailers make money selling vintage to men, so most shops focus heavily on women, and many don't bother with men's at all. Good on you if you're still a 36 or 38R: that broadens the selection considerably. Slimmer pickings for us professional-eater types.

Upside of owning vintage: incentive to exercise enough to protect the investment. If I burst the seat of an $11 pair of Primark chinos, no biggie, but they're not making any more of that Mad-Men-vintage tux.

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Yeah--it definitely takes dedication. I'm more of a thrift-shop vintage seeker and in fact a few months ago I came across the most beautiful haul of stuff that had clearly been owned by a...er, larger gentleman! Gorgeous tweeds, especially. But yes--I find the same thing--a lot of ladies' vintage is for very slender ladies and even the shoes seem almost uniformly narrow and tiny.

I'm also very in favor of getting a few good things though--again men have the advantage here. putting yourself in the hands of a good tailor can pay off for many, many years.

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they're not miracle workers. Taking in / letting out waists, trouser hems, sleeves, maybe taking in the girth of a jacket a bit, is all you can reasonably expect them to do. If it doesn't mostly fit well off the rack, it's usually better to walk away, is my hard-earned lesson.

I'm a frugal dandy, too. Most of my stuff is thrifted, consigned, or eBayed. Who can afford to buy quality new retail?

My other observation: it's great to be a man. Conservatively-cut men's clothes from quality makers rarely look dated, unlike women's clothes. And we get to go our whole lives wearing comfortable shoes. "They'll never clone ya."

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"even the shoes seem almost uniformly narrow and tiny"

My mother, who works in a dancewear shop, has a theory about that: she says that children, especially girls, wore harder shoes years ago and this restricted foot growth. Now people have their children in soft sneakers, flip flops and crocks and their feet get enormous.

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Women used to buy them a size or more too small, as having "small" feet was considered feminine.

I remember some of these women turning up when I worked in an orthopedic research laboratory - some had horrible bunions, damaged feet, and permanent "barbie" heels from wearing shoes that were too small and too tall.

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,

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Wrong comment thread. *forehead slap*

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cognitive dissonance, taken at the Temple Place stop of the Silver Line 5 bus. I avoid Uniqlo's hit-or-miss rags for reasons I noted above, even though their quality is rather better than H&M et. al., but I have to give them props for co-opting the right style icons.

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Quality shoes, well-cared-for (shoe trees and the occasional polish, guys!), will outlast ten pairs of fast-casual junk and look infinitely better.

I finally saw the light on good shoes. A couple of pair of Allen Edmonds (one of the very few brands made in the US). They're 2-3x the cost of what you would normally expect to spend on 1/2 decent shoes, but:

1. They last a lot longer (single handedly actually SAVES you money)
2. They look so much better
3. If you wear a weird size, they have it. Every shoe, every size, even if the factory has to make you one.

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brand that is great-looking and built to last for decades is Alden of New England, manufactured in our own Middleborough, MA since the 19th century.

Cheap ain't really cheap in the long run. Preach it to your sons and nephews!

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... are Aldens. Most expensive items of dress I've ever owned.

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I love unions. How else could we keep the housing in Boston so expensive?

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imagining the President can control the price of gasoline. Have you been by a Home Depot parking lot in the last 20 years? Know anyone who has redone the floors in their home lately? Your grasp of economics and the realities of the construction trades needs some updating.

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One and two family homes are a waaaaaaaaaay different ballpark than commercial and multifamily housing. Politically in Boston a project isn't getting a permit or BRA approval without kowtowing to union interests.

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The problem is unions, so say the benevolent real estate agents.

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(wrong place - please remove)

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Wasn't that Mrs. Conehead?

IMAGE(https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/5d/b7/9a/5db79aeeff251f7e4db92cac9a4f634b.jpg)

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     Prymaat

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Unions! The organizations so great and attractive they have to get their supporters in the state legislature to pass laws forcing people to join!

Still, we should applaud their efforts to keep the American labor movement free of communism.

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IMAGE(https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xal1/v/t1.0-9/12065475_10153638907404655_8275877417553057720_n.png?oh=bcee82686e2678eb30e2630b1c85a452&oe=56CC26B2)

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