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Scotch kisses on See's Candy packaging.
Strengthening the American manufacturing sector may seem like one of those things that you, as an individual, can't do anything about. While it's true that action by the government to encourage and reward American manufacturing is badly needed, what you can do is more than zero, and the holidays are a good opportunity to put that into practice. According to ABC News:
The average American will spend almost $750 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $586 billion, the National Retail Federation estimates.

If each of us spent just $64 on American-made goods during our holiday shopping, the result would be 200,000 new jobs.

Best of all would be to buy union-made, American-made gifts or holiday treats, and the AFL-CIO has been offering suggestions. If clothes are on your shopping list, brands like OshKosh B'gosh, Brooks Brothers and Joseph Abboud are union-made in America, as are Naturalizer, Nunn Bush and Red Wing shoes. Beauty products by Avon, Dove, Old Spice and Revlon make the list.

Okay, but you're not going to buy the kids some Old Spice. Happily, there's a long list of games made by union workers in the United States—Candy Land, Clue, Monopoly, Operation, Pictionary, Scrabble, Taboo, Twister and more—as well as athletic equipment by American Athletic, Louisville Slugger and Standard Golf. Shopping for a sweet tooth? There's a lot of great union-made candy, and baking recipes using union-made goods as well.

But while spending your money on union-made goods is best, American workers—including union members—will do better if the country has a strong manufacturing base and jobs are kept here, rather than being sent to wherever in the world wages and working conditions are worst. The Alliance for American Manufacturing has been highlighting a different American-made gift idea every day, from dog bones to cast-iron skillets in the shape of the 50 states to leather goods and jewelry and wall decals and much more. ABC News also has a giant list of made in America gift ideas.

You can also support your small local craftspeople. Or, hey, the many, many amazing craftspeople of the Daily Kos community.

One more way to shop in an American-worker-friendly way is to give kids books and movies that will tell them the stories they won't learn in school, about how kids like them used to work in factories and it was workers coming together in unions, not benevolence from above, that improved things. Stories that focus on solidarity and collective action and the notion that sometimes you need to break the rules and to fight to move society forward. I wrote about more than 20 such books and movies for kids last year. And as an added benefit, many books are printed in the United States, too.

So if you're taking your holiday shopping down to the wire (like I am), consider these ideas to strengthen the nation's workers, manufacturing sector and economy.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 12:52 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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