Here’s an ironic story for the holiday shopping season: Lawyers for the AFL-CIO have sent a cease and desist letter to a company called Unionmade because its products apparently aren’t unionmade after all. Moreover, the company appears to have modeled its logo after the AFL-CIO’s one.
“Attention ‘Unionmade’: We’re not flattered by imitation,” the AFL-CIO says on its blog.
In their letter, AFL-CIO lawyers note their logo has long been trademarked:
Your use of a handshake within two concentric circles, as is used by the AFL-CIO, in conjunction with the words UNION MADE, is likely to cause people to believe that your store and the products you sell are associated or affiliated with the AFL-CIO and/or its union members, when they are not.
They also request the California-based company change it name to one that “does not deceive the public into thinking that they are purchasing items that are actually made by union workers.”
The fact that the company has little if no connection to contemporary unionism was apparently first noted by Gawker.
The company’s use of the name Unionmade is an attempt to brand its products as having an early American quality, though it is actually a very high-end store. It’s chinos go for $310 for example. “[W]e try to carry products that represent the ‘Union Made’ ideals of yesteryear as it is virtually impossible to curate a store entirely of union labor made products,” it told one customer, according to Gawker.
It may be that the reference to union ideals as being something from “yesteryear”was what stung the AFL-CIO the most.
Neither the AFL-CIO nor Unionmade have responded to my inquires regarding the letter. I’ll update this post should they respond.