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Uline put politics in its catalog. Should I still buy boxes from them?

Should companies make political statements? I pondered this when I received a clearly political message in the catalog for the Uline, the company I get my shipping supplies from.

Uline’s catalog is over 700 pages long. It’s filled with everything from corrugated cardboard boxes to book shippers, which I use a lot of. You could get lost in this thing — it’s like the Container Store for small businesses.

Close to the end of the catalog, right after the Index, was a message that surprised me. It’s a letter from the president of the company, Liz Uihlein. Here it is:

Hope And Change Part II

I’m from Chicago, too. I thought I’d take a crack at my version of Hope and Change 2017.

Chicago’s Murder Count – Every Monday morning the city announces the death count for the post weekend. Last year. 762 were killed and 4,331 were shot in Chicago: it was the deadliest year in neatly two decades. That’s beyond distressing for such a great city.

Marijuana – Have the politicians gone mad? Marijuana stays in your system for at least 5 days. This can affect Uline warehouse employees who go up 30 feet In the air to pick products off the shelves. It affects your children or grandchildren. who may be busy telling you it’s safer than alcohol. Its bad news. It remains a gateway drug

Term Limits for Politicians – We need to do what’s right for the country and not the constant battle for money and re-election. The term limits need to be revisited.

Foreign Policy – Get one. The best college course I ever had was called “Deterrence and Defense.” The strongest guy on the playground has a responsibility.

Affordable Healthcare – It’s a “no can do” right now for middle-class people working for smaller companies. Its unfair for the unemployed to receive free healthcare while the premiums for the middle class have largely shot to the moon.

State of California – Stop! The rules and regulations of this state are unbearable. Whether its lunch breaks or VOCs in aerosols – the list goes on and on. California needs a turnaround. Boy is Texas happy.

Trade Policy – We can’t undo a number of the deals now In place, especially with our friends in Mexico and Canada. But going forward we need to level the playing field for the unemployed and for the workers  whose plants have been shut down In small towns.

The Press and Pollsters – They have been put on notice for poor performance. We don’t need to go there.

Jobs/Food Stamps – There are 47 million folks out of a U.S. population of 324 million who are currently receiving food stamps. This is just too high of a number.

Will we be better off in four years? Who knows? But let’s give it a try.

Liz Uihlein

Does this message belong in the catalog?

We tell company executives to be clear and personal in their messages. Liz Uihlein did.

With the exception of the picture of the Trump head cookie (who sells those?), there’s no mention of political parties.

Some of these statements, anybody could sympathize with. There are too many murders in Chicago, we all agree. There is too much money in politics. The strongest guy on the playground has a responsibility. We need better trade deals. There are too many people on food stamps.

Others seemed aligned with a conservative perspective. It’s unfair for the unemployed to receive healthcare. The press has performed poorly. There are too many regulations in California. Marijuana is a gateway drug.

Uihlein certainly has a right to her opinion. If you are liberal, would you stop doing business with Uline? What she says is certainly more overtly political than, for example, what Papa John’s Pizza CEO John H. Schnatter said about NFL protests.

Imagine a similar message with a liberal lean. If the president of the company said that police need better training to deal fairly with citizens of all races, that deporting children was wrong, or that no one should be denied health care, would you be more or less likely to buy from the company?

Must we pick sides?

I’m taking a stand.

The Uihleins have donated $24 million to Republicans including Donald Trump and wish everyone would watch Fox News.

These are opinions I disagree with.

And I’m going to keep buying my supplies there.

I don’t believe these messages belong in my catalog. But once we start boycotting everything we don’t like, we split the country into warring camps.

If you disagree, that’s your right. But tell me exactly where you draw the line? Do you think the purchasing choices you make change anything? What’s your evidence?

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  1. I receive the Uline catalog, too, which I generally just recycle without opening. I will certainly continue to do so, especially now. On the other hand, I love the fact that Bill Penzey of Penzey’s Spices also makes his values and beliefs clearly known, which mirror my own. As a result, I buy even more Penzey’s spices than I normally would have, and give many people Penzey’s spices as gifts.So I’d say that if a business owner understands the risks, benefits and trade-offs inherent in taking a political stand, then by all means, go ahead. Uline may see a nice positive revenue bounce as a result of this message (as Penzey’s has), or they may see a dip. It will be interesting to follow, if we have a way of finding out.

    1. Nancy — that was the example I was going to use. I have become a Penzey’s Spices FREAK because of his positions. So, if the people at U-Line feel the way they feel, then I believe they should include that in their catalog. Personally, I like knowing who doesn’t really feel the way I do about basic human rights, so I can give my dollar vote to somebody else.

    2. Should we pick sides based on Liz Uihlein’s political views? Why not? Why do we have invested in whetehr Uline prospers or not? We all have our thoughts and values and we are motivated by them because we are human.. Just like Liz. I think, If Liz is putting her personal thoughts out there, she has decided to bear the risk of going against the grain of common wisdom that says is just not worth it. She is stating herself that businesses have enough challenge in the marketplace. So why take the chance that some of your employees might decide that the lure of FoxComm or Amazon looks all the better just to escape a management structure that one doesn’t agree with? Or that a customer’s decision maker on packaging materials might be offended and it would be the tipping point? So, lets leave Liz and her thought processes alone and make our choices accordingly. I have to think, if Liz is as naive as her viewpoints, she may also not realize how much this hurts the business. Or that Uline is not so special that anybody truly needs them as much as they need customers. The same goes for Penzey’s or Lakeland. Supply, who flies their Christian banner proudly.

      1. Recently met her. Truly crazy human being. Worst 45 minutes of the last 20 years of my life. Was like crazy grandma at thanksgiving. Just odd.

        1. Anyone who makes such stupid comments about marijuana has no business commenting on anything, esp. politics. I will never ever make another purchase from this company. I had an order in and after reading this, called and cancelled it immediately. Anything I can do to un-support the conservative “agenda”, I’m doing!

    3. Why on earth is EVERYTHING politicized now in this country??? You guys all appear to be left of center. Thats your choice, as it is mine to be right of center. But businesses are in business to sell product. Why do companies jump into the culture war and choose a side in the first place? Why cant they just sell their product and increase the bottom line or the satisfaction of their customers, and leave tge stinking politics out of it? Now we have companies out there whose business model seems to be to force their opinion on customers, but it actually just alienates those who disagree with them. My point is, I’m sick of it. I just want to buy things I need without having to get screamed at with someone’s politics.

      1. +.Jain=
        I’m left of center, wary of ideology of any stripe, and I couldn’t agree more with your comment.

      2. It’s fairly simple WHY everything is politicized. Look at it this way… you hail a cab in a city. If you knew that cabbie knocked his wife around in the evening to keep her in line… and even though you know he won’t harm you in the workplace while he’s driving you somewhere as a service provider: would you still ride in his cab?? Part of our social freedom is the freedom to choose your vendors. Hailing a different cabbie… is your choice. If you didn’t know your cabbie was a wife beater… you might make use of his driving services ignorantly. And for many people, ignorance is bliss as they say… But once you know the truth about your cabbie… what would you do?

  2. I buy a fair amount from ULINE. Ms. Uihlein is entitled to her opinion. I disagree with much of it, but the remedy for bad speech is good speech. She’s stated her position, and others are free to critique that position, but her political opinions are at best a tie-breaker when it comes to deciding where I get my bubble-wrap.

    However, I would be more inclined to give her opinions weight if ULINE wasn’t so pigheaded about how they send out their catalogs. I order online, and have repeatedly asked them to NOT send me catalogs. It costs them money, and I immediately discard them into the recycling bin.

    In a perverse way, ULINE’s political posturing is actually a good thing from my perspective. The more money they spend spamming catalogs that are not cost-effective, the less they have available to support candidates I dislike. 🙂

  3. Chick-fil-A recently came to my fair city. I like that Chick-fil-A lives its values by giving all employees the day off on Sunday.
    I don’t like that my dollars, from my purchases of their products, go to fund things against which I believe.
    Thus, I don’t purchase products from Chick-fil-A.
    I realize, however, that my choice represents a molecule, not even a whole drop, in the financial bucket for that company. It makes me feel as though I’m living up to my principles, particularly as there are myriad other options for my purchases of that type.

    Companies have, in my opinion, every right to make polarizing statements in whatever media they so choose, or by their actions. I, and others like me, have every right to stop purchasing from them. Still others, who don’t feel their own personal convictions are impacted sufficiently by the company’s position, have every right to continue purchasing from them.

    Personally, just as I would refrain from telling a random group of strangers what my political convictions are, particularly if I wanted their business, I think that companies that do this are foolish by limiting their markets and so I would not do that were I in their shoes. We all are entitled to our opinions. Even the divisive ones.

  4. I had never heard of ULINE before reading this post, so sadly, I cannot make a decision to not do business with them in the future. That said, she has a right to express her political views, and if she chooses to do so in a letter from the owner, then surely she understands that the readers, her customers, also have a right to find another vendor. Mr. Trump encourages consumers to boycott brands on a weekly basis, Kohls, I believe being the latest. Ask Papa Johns if boycotting works. We only get to vote at the ballot box occasionally, voting with our dollars, we can do every day. Frankly, those in power give the latter more weight.

    My advice to Ms. Uline is that it was not just what she said, but how she said it. There was no introduction to her list of grievances, no invitation to consider other’s views, no solutions or rationale for what, to my mind, bordered on a political rant. She gave the readers no reason to care about her opinions but plenty of reasons to decide whether or not they want to continue to do business with her.

  5. I don’t live in the US, so I’ll never do business with ULine (and hadn’t heard of them until today) but I like it. And, speaking as an outsider, I don’t read that as a strictly “conservative” or “Republican” set of beliefs – rather they read like the opinions of a real person who has had to deal with, or at least think about, some of the issues described. I applaud it personally. It seems to me that there are a lot of people who are happy to pick a fight on the internet with passive aggressive insults and half stated opinions, whereas at least Ms Uihlein has been clear about her stance without actually attacking anyone,. That’s a brave move and if there was more of it I think we’d be better off.

  6. I find it interesting which type of companies make which type of statements. On the surface it seems to be divided between companies that assist me in doing business (conservative). And those that are selling me something is personally us (liberal). Both have right to lay out their policy, but I find myself feeling “helped” by one and “manipulated by the other”.

  7. Quick questions: how is this different from voting in an election? Are you concerned that your vote splits the country?
    Or don’t you think your vote matters? You should vote your conscious. Spend your money the same way.

    1. My vote doesn’t split the country. Divisive actions — by leaders and by those who comment — is what splits the country. Also, there is a difference between “I disagree with you” and “I will never buy anything from you because of what you believe.” The former is discourse. The latter is divisive.

        1. Stakeholder interest is a growing aspect of doing business. If you support my foe I will not support you is fair game in business. Why would I use my corporate dollars to support a business who donates to a group that actively works against my own mission in business? For example, if my mission is to sell sprockets and save the whales, why would i allow part of my supply chain to fund something that kills whales? I would need to find an alternative box supplier for my sprockets and maybe even pay more for the boxes so that my company mission could advance. It’s very simple.

  8. “I believe …” is a powerful statement that both attracts and repels people at the same time. It works like a magnet. The stronger it is at attracting, the stronger it is at repelling. Most businesses are afraid to make those statements because they fear the business they will repel, without understanding that A) they’ll never get all the business anyway, and B) they will attract people who share their values. I encourage businesses to make “I believe …” statements, but they should all be aligned with the workings of the business and with the core values of the business.

  9. In Australia we have just gone through a farce of a non binding, non compulsory (voting is usually compulsory in Australia) plebiscite on same sex marriage.
    The ‘debate’ became heated and pretty irrational on both sides, but a significant number of large organisations came out and supported the proposition it should be legalised.
    I do not mind the senior executives coming out (no pun intended) and supporting the proposition in a personal capacity, but do object to the organisation being the front. when a significant number (40% if the plebiscite numbers can be averaged out) of their employees do not support the proposition.
    Meanwhile, the important issues in the country, the ones that contribute to our continued prosperity, are being put on the back burner, left to take care of themselves.
    This is not quite the same as the Uline catalogue, but the principal is similar.

  10. I would write to Liz Uihlein and discuss her positions. I would also urge her to set aside portions of her catalog for the opinions of her customers. If she wants to talk about politics, let her do it the right way. Otherwise, suggest that preaching any positions at anyone simply turns people off.

    1. Having built a successful business, Uihlein wants to use it as a pulpit. She has no interest in sharing it with anyone who disagrees. She is not a media company, she is a voice with a megaphone.

      1. Today’s Republican party is all about extreme conservatism and special interests. I think people are easily fooled to underestimate their military scale tactics of embedding their views and believes. This is a case of “don’t judge a box by it’s volume.” Unfortunately our dollars ARE one of the most important ways to stop the infestation. I wish it wasn’t true. I strongly and regretfully disagree with the article.

  11. This was an eye opener. We have Uline in Canada. We order supplies for our business and farm several times a year. Up until now our biggest gripe was the number of catalogues they send – A large one for each season and two smaller ones each quarter. I wrote and asked them to stop. They now send me TWO instead of one each time. Their prices are high but they have good delivery service. However, never in my wildest dreams did I consider my purchases could be filtering back to support the election of the Trump regime and all of the chaos and grief that entails. We can agree to disagree on politics. However I am now wondering if I can knowingly continue to buy from a company that has pledged corporate and financial support to a regime that represents so much that is abhorrent to me.

  12. I disagree with her on points 2, 4 and 6.

    However, I cant agree or disagree with 1,3,5,7,8 and 9 – because they are bullshit.

  13. I think her comments are unprofessional, and they put her employees (and even her stockholders) at a disadvantage if they don’t happen to agree. In a couple of statements, she is talking about policies that directly affect the business (such as employees on drugs don’t belong on high ladders, or regulations that are causing them to have to discontinue a product) that’s one thing. But her “concern” for her employees’ families rings hollow and it sounds more like she’s trying to (in a passive aggressive way) lay a guilt trip on her employees.

    She should use her pulpit to positively strengthen her tribe of customers and staff by expressing shared values and how the company is living those values. Instead, she is griping and planting a partisan flag — she might as well be posting on Twitter, like her president (it makes him look unprofessional, as well.)

    Uline — never shopped there; now I won’t start. Chick fil a — I don’t eat there, but at least the CEO has begun to listen and consider others’ views. Honestly, if I were already a customer, I don’t know if it would make me change my behaviors. Would I buy a product that I found out was made from child labor? Same thing, really. It’s all how you view living your values.

  14. Violence is divisive. Boycotting is a peaceful way to protest. I’m all for peaceful protest. And, i don’t want to support businesses that support conservative “values.”

  15. Knowing that the money I would potentially spend on Uline products would be used to support the vile Republican agenda prevents me from ever purchasing another Uline product.

  16. I have to admit that this spirited defense of ‘apathy as principled action’ is somewhat creatively amusing, even if ridiculous. Alas, while I too frequently keep paying for services or products from those whose attitudes or actions I find loathsome because it’s too much trouble to seek other avenues, I don’t actually attempt to make people think my laziness is admirable.

    Thanks for the chuckle!!

  17. Liz’ comments seem like somewhat benign “opinions” if the above is all you ever read about her and if you don’t lift a finger to find out who her and her husband are. They have funneled millions of dollars into specific Republican races in order to ensure a conservative wins, in order to turn the tide, in order to tip the election.
    Is that legal? Probably, but do you really want to do business with someone like that?

    “I’m taking a stand.
    The Uihleins have donated $24 million to Republicans including Donald Trump and wish everyone would watch Fox News.
    These are opinions I disagree with.
    And I’m going to keep buying my supplies there.”

    If you are going to continue to buy supplies from U-Line then I would argue that you don’t REALLY disagree with Liz, or you have no morals and are spineless and will simply follow the path of least resistance.

    Either way, I wouldn’t want to hang out with you or Liz.
    Trump’s campaign announced new members of his economic team on Thursday. They include Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks, the co-founder and chair of ABC Supply and Liz Uihlein, president of Uline Corp., which is based in Pleasant Prairie.
    Both Hendricks and Uihlein are also part of a Republican National Committee fundraising effort to support Trump.
    Hendricks gave $5 million to a super PAC created to support Walker’s presidential bid, and Uihlein gave $3 million.

    1. I’m fascinated by this comment:

      “If you are going to continue to buy supplies from U-Line then I would argue that you don’t REALLY disagree with Liz, or you have no morals and are spineless and will simply follow the path of least resistance.”

      So I don’t get to draw the line?

      If I disagree with Fox News do I have to never watch the Fox television network, or movies made by 20th Century Fox?

      If I disagree with NRA TV, then do I have to boycott Amazon, which streams it on their platform?

      My whole point is that boycotts lead to madness. You’re welcome to boycott whatever you want. But just because I do business with someone doesn’t mean I support everything they do. If my plumber gave money to Trump, but is a good plumber, I’ll keep using him. The same applies to Uline, just at a much greater magnitude.

      Have you tracked down every Trump supporting company and contributor? Are you boycotting all of them? How do you choose? Which ever ones you’re not boycotting — if I point them out, do you have to boycott them? Or if you don’t, does that make you spineless?

      Spineless my ass. Spineless would be doing what I’m doing and not writing about it.

      1. If trump told me to bend the knee and said to accept the fact that Jews can not adopt babies from Christian adoption agencies, AND could advertise that same sentiment while also donating to trump to keep that extreme hard line position. And my plumber not only agrees but also is a supporter that Jews should have limited rights to adoption based on HIS religion. I would find a new plumber. -And sadly it might come down to only Jewish plumbers can work on Jewish pipes. This is what happens in a country that allows corporations to be people and decide who they can and can not hurt with their beliefs. They forget they serve the public. Businesses forget that they hire the public and they get benefits from the federal government that the public pays into yet they pay people to limit the freedom of the parts of the public they don’t like. “BOYCOTTS ARE MADNESS!” You know what’s madness? Trying the hang the Vice President and overturn an election…basically sedition and having it be funded by corporations and everyone shrugs like that is perfectly normal behavior and not seen in third world countries. Also this adoption scenario happened. Tennessee.

  18. there is a big difference between a plumber who votes for 45 and a business owner who bribes him and gets a political appointment because of it. however, even in the case of an excellent plumber i would not continue to give her business if she came into my house and tried to talk politics with me.

  19. I don’t think boycotts lead to madness. Boycotts are a legitimate form of protest and no one is forcing anyone to protest — it’s up to the individual to prioritize issues and reactions. But Josh, you are an expert on business writing, and that’s what this blog is about. A business that plants a flag on a divisive issue weighs the risks of doing so. Her biggest corporate customers are likely to be led by conservatives, and she may have more to gain than to lose by planting that flag — she’s marketing to big fish — not you or me — and she’s not concerned with losing our business. But, it’s more likely, as Barbara pointed out, she was also marketing to the “audience of one” — 45. It paid off. That and her money landed her a political appointment from which she can probably rake in all the government contracts here and abroad that she wants and change the rules to her benefit. I can’t believe our country has come to this — blatant pandering, and corruption. The selling off of the commons. Actually, our government is the victim of a nonviolent corporate coup. Unfortunately, I really believe that.

  20. Thanks for bringing this to my attention! I don’t need to buy from this Company after seeing this!

  21. More than just a harmless message, this company has gone to great ends to destroy public unions and is funding legal attacks on unions. I will never buy their products so long as I can help it.

  22. How about simply focusing on having the best product or service, and a company people are happy to work for? Political lip service from CEOs or anyone else is just that. I would rather see more jobs created regardless of political affiliation and higher wages for a start. When the wage gaps between CEOs and the people they employ are something like 50:1, grandstanding doesn’t mean much of anything. I buy quality products, regardless of the company’s political leanings, because thank God, I live in this country and that is a choice I get to make. I can choose to buy products made in the USA or any other country, again because of those lovely freedoms we have here. The quality of what I am spending my money on—be that a product or a service—is paramount to me when making wise decisions about my finances. What they do with the money after that is not a reflection on me, because as we’ve seen, CEOs can be changed out like dirty shirts and those political views right along with them. There’s a reason why many companies don’t disclose the political views or donations with a billboard, quite possibly, because it doesn’t change a thing about the product or service. And last I checked, it was the approval of the marketplace for goods/services that kept a company’s doors open and not that of political preference.

  23. I have no problem with Liz uihlein having political opinions that differ from mine.
    I find it a questionable decision to showcase her views in her catalog.

    However, I understand that Uline is a privately owned company.
    There are no other shareholders outside of the Uihlein family so, if she wishes to potentially alienate her customers with her opinions that’s her perogative.

    I know that I will consider other options when it comes to my packing supplies in the future.
    Had I not known about her political views, I would not look for options. The Uline company
    does a good job supplying packing material at a fair price.

  24. So you would rather sacrifice quality and service because of politics? I think this is one of the main problems in our country is that people are elevating politics to the level of a religion and they don’t even realize it. I know that people have differing opinions from me, but I do not raise them as moral absolutes such that I don’t have a conscience about how I deal with them, or that I demonize them. How is that much different from the thinking of jihadists? I get it…you’re only talking about not doing business, but business is just business and views can change.

    1. Dear Jojo,
      I have said nothing that could be construed as a moral absolute!

      There are other suppliers of quality packing materials and tape.
      I am making no sacrifice if I do not choose to buy from Uline.

      You have introduced religion into this discussion, I have stated nothing about religious beliefs and I will not.

      If I choose not to purchase from a company that is expressing political opinions that I disagree with, am I not following my own values and exercising a basic freedom of choice?

      Are you suggesting that you would choose to do business with a company that supports political opinions that you actively disagree with?

      In this world there is no shortage of cardboard box and packing tape suppliers. I can make a economic decision as to what company to buy from without incurring any financial penalty. If I had not known about Uline’s owners political views and their support for views that I disagree with then I would continue to buy from them.

      Ms. Uihlene introduced her political opinions into the equation and I am responding to her choice to share that information.

      1. Certainly it is “exercising a basic freedom of choice”. However, Mrs. Uihlein held those beliefs before you purchased anything from her and the whole time you did so. And you still enjoyed quality products and services from her company regardless of whether she chose to give some of her own money to a cause or candidate that she felt was worth it. So what has really changed? And what is the motive behind the change? It sounds like what has changed is that you don’t like her being able to exercise a basic freedom of choice—or you do—but feel the need to penalize her company for it. Maybe I’ve read that wrong. So my question becomes, where does it end? Where do you draw the line? At political party affiliation? What about individual issues? The reason I brought up religion is because prior to now, the kind of absolutism we are seeing with politics (morality, truth, goodness, etc) was only ever held by religion and religious doctrine. Political parties change. Their agendas change. Opinions change. Views change. However, more and more, it seems people are deifying their views and political beliefs on certain subjects to the exclusion of all else…but to what degree? Perhaps you may be able to find the kind of supplies you need elsewhere and at only a minor inconvenience or additional cost. My business cannot, and as a representative, I need to do what is fiscally responsible for the company based on fact, not based on my own personal feelings or political leanings. So okay, we should stop doing business with the people who disagree with us then, right? Is it not your obligation then to find out where every company and every brand you purchase from, throws their money? What about your job? Should everyone quit their job because they disagree with their manager’s political views? How about the CEO’s views? What about the person who cuts your hair? Or the person who washes your car? Or the teacher at your kid’s school? Or the bank that holds your mortgage? Where does one draw the line? My original point was that a company providing quality goods and services is fulfilling its role in its ENTIRETY to the consumer. What anyone working at that company chooses to do with their own money, is patently irrelevant to me and an exercise of their basic freedom. I may have read you wrong, but it sounds like “ignorance is bliss” until ignorance evaporates, but then you still prefer ignorance to reign everywhere else, because you are not compelled to take a proactive stand with everyone you do business with to ensure that they meet your preferred mindset in order to continue receiving your money in exchange for goods and services. Feel free to correct me if that is not the case. But where one draws the line is the still the question hanging in the air.

  25. Dear Jojo,

    Let’s parse this out into pieces.

    My relationship with Uline has been that of a box & packaging consumer and a box & packaging supplier.
    A strictly, buyer vendor relationship. We don’t socialize, do not go to the same church, don’t belong to any common clubs or even live in the same state.

    Then, Ms. U. puts her political views into a letter included in her catalog and changes that relationship.
    Clearly, it is her right in this country to hold views that I may not agree with. However, now our relationship has changed. It is now that of a buyer with one set of views and a seller with another set of views.
    The product has not changed, the prices have not changed. What has changed is my awareness of her differing views. In this case “ignorance was bliss” if that means that I was buying material from an entity that promotes views I profoundly disagree with.

    Now let’s make this a little extreme in a thought experiment to highlight the concepts.
    Let’s say that the company was “Fascist/Stalinist Inc.” And that I was unaware of the views of Mr. A. Hitler and Mr. J. Stalin the co-owners. However, in their catalog they put a letter expressing their respective political sentiments.
    I happen to disagree with those sentiments and discontinue buying cardboard boxes and packing tape from this imaginary company “Fascist/Stalinist, Inc”. I would be well within my rights as an individual and a company owner to choose to do so. (I am not claiming that Ms. U holds such extreme views.)

    You state in your comments that you owe a fiscal responsibility to make decisions that are economically correct to maintain the profitability of your company. But, is that the only responsibility that you have as a company owner or executive? Do dollar based decisions trump all other value based judgments? I clearly do not think so!
    In this case there are many other suppliers of cardboard boxes and packing tape. So, there is no economic penalty for changing my supplier from “Fascist/Stalinist, Inc” or from Uline to another supplier.

    But, what if there were no other suppliers with comparable quality and prices. Would it be a reasonable decision not to buy from “Fascist/Stalinst, Inc.” and pay a higher price? We run into this type of decision every day when we buy products that are “Green” sustainable, or ecologically produced. Clearly, we value a clean and healthy environment over just the cheapest item we can buy.

    Yes, ignorance was bliss! Until, Ms. U chose to provide her political views in her catalog letter, I was unaware of the disconnect between her beliefs and mine. However, I am now aware of this imbalance and will act upon it.
    Are there many other companies and individuals that hold contrary opinions to mine. Yes, of course there are.
    However, as long as they do not promote those opinions in the course of our social/business interaction, I will do business with them and use their services. i will eat their cakes, have them service my car, and teach math to my children. This is the beauty of our social contract and how a society with many different opinions works.

    When we enter into the political arena, we share our opinions and make our choices of who or what we support and encourage. Ms. U. violated the social commons by interjecting her personal opinions into an non political environment. Should she lose some customers who disagree with her opinions. Yes, I think so. Am I discrimination against her. No, I am disagreeing with her and expressing my disagreement by removing my business from her client base. If she had wanted to keep me as a customer all she had to do was leave her political opinions out of her catalog. It was her choice.

  26. No longer will my company by from Uline; And, as a small company, I’m sure my purchase are just a tiny, tiny fraction of what Uline sells to larger companies and organizations, it does not need my business. The company’s owner made it political because she is proud of supporter of Donald Trump.

  27. Liz has every right to place her views in her companies catalogue, which HER COMPANY produces without any protections, immunity, or cost savings from the government.

    MEANWHILE….while liberal on here freaks out about Liz’s message…GOOGLE, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, and many other social media COMPANIES are censoring free speech while claiming to be a neutral public forum–which they most certainly are not (such classification does not allow for political editorializing and censorship).

    The “neutral public forum” classification gives them liability immunity (and um, COST SAVINGS) from many government regulations under the CDA, which is the Communications Decency Act.

    There you go.

    Lets talk about that business decision.

    All the hypocrites on here should remember that actions speak louder than words. And those that use the system for their own $$$ gain, while violating the rights of American citizens, are true villains. Not a female business owner that jots down a few thoughts in her own catalogue. Maga.

    And yes, Uline makes the best boxes in the game. Will buy from them forever.

    1. Would you buy boxes from a company supporting democrats? Probably not by the sound of your tone.
      Then why the double standard?

  28. Gee, Someone is fired up and angry, today.
    Seems a bit over excited for the topic under discussion.
    Enjoy your boxes.

  29. Well, KD certainly missed the point. The question isn’t whether she has a right to publish her views in her catalogue. The question is whether we should still buy boxes from them. Furthermore, Liz hasn’t really thought this through. She advocates for Liz’s right to publish whatever she wants, but doesn’t like it when Google, Twitter and Facebook do exactly the same thing. I think KD’s problem is with the message. (and like most conservatives, she is all about free speech, but only when she likes what ‘s being said!)

  30. A friend of mine just alerted me to the fact that U-Line owner Richard Uihlein gave a significant contribution to the “No on 3” campaign here in Massachusetts. So I checked it out, and sure enough, … http://www.ocpf.us/Reports/DisplayReport?menuHidden=true&id=671731#schedule-a … shows a $10,000 contribution!
    So, what is No on 3? Well, back in 2016, Massachusetts enacted legislation (Democratic controlled legislature) that was signed into law (Republican Governor) to ad transgender people to existing non-discrimination state statutes, regarding public accommodations, such as hospitals, hotels, restaurants, and other public places. In fact, a long list of groups, agencies, and businesses are in support of keeping this law in place (see https://www.freedommassachusetts.org and scroll down for a list).
    However, soon after the law went into effect, a number of people circulated a petition to create a ballot initiative to revoke it. They followed up by creating the “No on 3” campaign (see http://www.keepmasafe.org). This would take us backward in time to allow discrimination of transgender people … for no good reason, in my opinion. Since the law went into effect, research studies have shown this law as having no detrimental effect. There has been no increase in sexual assaults, molestations, etc. Indeed, existing law makes any such attack a crime, regardless of how the attacker identifies themselves, what they are wearing (as a disguise, perhaps) etc. The “no” campaign is clearly based on stirring up fear of something that is simply not real.
    Fortunately, the frequent U-Line catalogs I receive sit on my shelf, as I have seldom needed what they sell. I just called their 800 number and told them I wish to be removed from their mailing list and the representative who answered told me they would.

  31. I think a business owner who in one breath expresses what appears to be genuine-if misguided-concern for the health and safety of her employees but then quickly follows that up with a self-serving whine about the laws protecting employee lunch breaks and and exposure to cancerous VOCs is a hypocrite.

    Her comments about the affordability of middle-class healthcare and the prevalence of food stamps? Maybe she could talk instead about America’s corporate welfare and the Dickensonian practices of business owners like the Waltons.

    I’m very disappointed. I like Uline products and services, but I won’t knowingly give my dollars to support fascism.

  32. What is a comparable company to Uline that doesn’t put their political beliefs
    in their catalog or even better donates to Democrats rather than Republicans?

  33. Wow! First, the comments and opinions of this group are largely educated and well articulated – both pro and con. With that said…
    She is allowed the freedom of speech, she stated her thoughts/opinions, she is the owner and she will suffer the consequences or reap the rewards of her decision to post her beliefs publicly.

    What bothers me is the majority that are left of center on here are revolting on a business because they don’t agree with the business owners thoughts/beliefs/political affiliation. Yet liberals believe it is okay for professional athletes, much of Hollywood, and the majority of the media to shove their left of center opinions down the public’s throats? If you believe in freedom of speech, (within reason – nothing illegal or corrupt) then allow it to be done without consequence – regardless if you agree or disagree.

    So, to answer the question, would I buy from Uline? NO! Not because of her statements in their catalog, but due to the fact I sell packaging supplies for a living and choose to due business with other suppliers.

    1. Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequence. No one on this forum has suggested it be so, because it cannot be. It IS okay for athletes, etc, to “shove their opinions down the public’s throats” (your tone there says everything) AND it’s okay for you not to support them because you don’t agree. Get it?

  34. For every person who won’t order from Uline because they express their opinions on issues, how many WILL order from them because of their opinions?

    That’s the bottom line.

  35. I’m a left leaning conservative for the most part and yet I still don’t agree with some of the things that the Republican party stands for, thats another topic for another day… but I just really wanted to say that I appreciate the tone of this article and question in the end. The more people can be reasonable in discussion and also know the issues with having so much warring and division in the country, the more we can come together and see what we do agree on and build from there.

    In regards to your question, I tend to agree with you. Leave politics out of the catalog.

  36. From what I’ve read of the comments, seems to me like she’s not very smart. Actually from what she wrote it seems like she’s not very smart,cunning, vile, manipulative, fascistic, maybe, but not smart. I wouldn’t by water from her if I was in the desert.

  37. We no longer buy our supplies from Uline. And we do not support firms that do. It’s a bogus argument to say “what if everyone did this?” For starters, if everyone did, it might drive Uline out of business– a good result. And no whining about lost jobs– we all need the stuff we get (or used to get) from them– if firms shop elsewhere the lost business is made up somewhere else.

  38. The Uihlein family is the same one that ran the Schlitz Brewing Company into the ground with a series of disastrous decisions; it was the biggest in the world.

    Wonder why they changed the name?

  39. A matter of conscience perhaps drives my decision today on this matter? Yes, I believe that’s it. I won’t allow my dollars to be complicit and aiding Uline in any of their endeavors. You know a terrible human being when you meet one. It’s all about them, and not a thought for anyone else. The Uihleins exhibit this trait perfectly.

  40. The writer’s argument for continuing to shop at Uline is an argument to be taking action on absolutely nothing no matter how objectionable it may be. Yes, to each their own but I’m done with shopping at Uline and any other organization that supports something that I find as completely objectionable as the Trump organization. And…for the record…I also want the owners of this company to stay the f*** out of Canada until the pandemic has passed.

  41. We are all entitled to our opinions and sometimes the opinion is I don’t want to financially support a certain source because I feel they are detrimental to this country.

    Just because you have freedom of speech doesn’t mean you have freedom from consequences.

    I know there have been clients who have walked away from me even though I have done great work for them. But that’s their choice and the cost of living in a free country (though we are not among the freest).

    It’s a matter of degrees. We all have “a line” that we lay down and when someone crosses it becomes decision time. There are a lot of conservatives I have done business with and who have become friends, but they seem to have some level of self-control.

    Liz is clearly overboard, and where I draw the line is where they put pressure on their employees. She and her husband regard their company not as a business, but a realm.

  42. I own a packaging company, CS Packaging in Batavia, Illinois similar to Uline’s and we don’t send catalogs out with our orders when everything is on-line. We have a huge selection of product and have great service and we keep our views to packaging not politics. Give us a try!

  43. As a “very” small business owner I like to think I’m giving my hard earned money to a company who shares my values. When I invest in a mutual fund I am careful that I am supporting companies who are going to use my money to do good for the planet, not create more toxicity than is already present. As difficult as it has been for me to replace the convenience of having all of the shipping supplies my business requires available in one place, I have chosen to be inconvenienced by sourcing from several companies but have peace of mind knowing my money doesn’t end up in the hands of those whose values aren’t in alignment with mine.

  44. Liz and Dick Uihlein are your typical conservative hypocrites. Odds are when they finally caught covid in November 2020, after downplaying the seriousness of the virus, they received the best medical care money can buy. Also, they took $20 million dollars of WI state money to move their corporate headquarters from IL and have been linked to a right wing group responsible for funding terrorist that stormed the Capitol on 1/6. Like donald trump, they were born with silver spoons in mouth. Dick is a heir to the Schlitz beer money and started Uline with money from his Daddy. No, I won’t be purchasing Uline’s overpriced merchandise (contributing to the destruction of democracy) when the same is available elsewhere for a fraction of the cost.

  45. I will NEVER, EVER patronize any business who has supported Ron Johnson. His candidate for POTUS lost, so he has responded by trying to dishonestly overturn the will of the people and cast dispersions on our democracy, which weakens our nation. Also, Uline has eliminated their City Desk. They just didnt want to pay anyone to work it, and they used Covid as an excuse, so now I have to pay $45 shipping to get a $50 order from a warehouse just 9 minutes away.

  46. I want to join a group of people to fund some billboards in blue cities bringing Uline’s political stances more out in the open so that people considering doing business with them don’t have to wander to the back of their catalog (which might be languishing in a recycling bin, never to be recycled,) to find out. It would simply trumpet her cause. Anyone in?

  47. Ever heard the phrase: “The personal is political”? This is the perfect example for that. The question is not whether or not a political message belongs in the catalog, it is whether or not you actively want to contribute to funding Republican lies. Because that’s where some of the money you spent on Uline’s products has been going. You chose to support Republicans even though you disagree with their views. Let that sink in.