OK, I have to get something off my chest. Yesterday a Union Brother of mine contacted me to let me know that tomorrow (Today 09/21/12) was National Tradesmen Day. At first I thought, "Oh that's great, I should look into it and write about it!" After just a little research, I didn't like what I found out.
I jump on the "Google Machine" and type "National Tradesmen Day" and the first link to come up was for Irwin Tools, it turns out this is something they came up with to sell more tools. Being a Union Sheet Metal Worker (Local 19, Philadelphia) I'm quite familiar with Irwin Tools because they make Vise-grips, which is one of the primary hand tools of our trade. I'm also familiar with another fact, many of Irwin Tools' products (including Vise-grips since 2008) are made in China.
Now before people start jumping on my back about harping on Irwin for starting this holiday, that isn't the case at all. I think it's pretty cool that they want to honor the people that use their tools, even though it's probably just a marketing scheme to sell more of their products, but still the the thought was nice.
What's bothering me is that while they honor us tradesmen (and women) in America, they have sold out other American workers, but we should still purchase their products. Right? I certainly won't be, especially after what they did to the 300 workers at the Dewitt, NE Vise-grip factory in 2008.
This was a factory that was in existence for 80 years with a proud manufacturing tradition and was the lifeblood of the small town of Dewitt (population 572). But that is all gone now and replaced with cheap outsourced labor, all in the name of soaring profits and blind corporate greed.
So today on this so-called "National Tradesmen Day" I ask those of us in the trades to refuse to purchase Irwin tools not made in the USA until the Irwin company brings those manufacturing jobs home.
6:26 PM PT: Someone made a very good comment that I should steer people in the right direction toward American made hand tools. And I agree.
The most important thing any of us can do as consumers is to check the label and buy American where we can. Most basic hand tools you can find made in the USA, you just have to check the labels, Sears Craftsman is my brand of hand tool. Most of them are made in the USA (still check labels) and they are a quality tool.
As far as specialty tools go, that can be a little more difficult. My advice would be to go to google, type in the kind of tool it is and add "made in America/USA" on the end.
As far as Vise-grip type locking pliers Klein makes them here in the USA and they look as though they'll do the trick. You can find them here:
6:47 PM PT: As mentioned by my good buddy Mark, Snap-On is still made in Kenosha, WI. And you can find a lot of good specialty tools with them.