Union Bug Merch

What is a Union Bug?

A union bug is a tiny label that union printers place on products. They aren’t just a logo or a brand. Union bugs contain identifiable information that can be tracked down to the shop where the item carrying the bug was made. 

Why Buy Union Bug Merch?

When merch is a direct reflection of your organization, the stakes are high. 

Any branded merch is an opportunity to walk the walk and support the highest standards of ethical manufacturing. If your organization is mission-focused and dedicated to forward progress, you should buy branded merch produced under good working conditions where people are paid fair wages. Typically union standards mean, at the bare minimum, it’s made in the USA and manufactured ethically. Even better would be made in the USA by union labor.

Union labels
Since union bugs include the union name and location, they are trackable.

Are Union Bugs Always Legit?

There are fake union bugs intended to fool people with good intentions. Merchandise can carry a scam union bug that can’t be traced back to any legitimate organization.

For instance, a union bug on something like a stainless steel water bottle is immediately suspect. This is because stainless steel water bottles are largely manufactured in China, and don’t adhere to the specific U.S. labor standards required to carry a union bug. 

What about t-shirts? You have to consider:

  • Where did the fabric come from?
  • Where was the shirt itself made?
  • Who printed the design and logo?

There are three separate touchpoints for this single shirt. A union bug on the final product indicates the shirt met the print shop’s standard. But the standards aren’t always easy to interpret, and many times you’ll find yourself making inferences.

Sourcing merch is already a complex task. Sourcing union-made merch is even trickier. There are 135 labor unions in the United States, and each has its own guidelines for labeling and trademark usage. 

How to Buy Union Bug Merch with Confidence

It’s true that USA-made, union-printed merchandise often comes at a higher cost. But that cost shows you support the people who make the merch possible. 

The only way to ensure you are truly sourcing goods with an ethical supply chain through union print shops is to build long-term relationships. These relationships have a multitude of benefits: 

  1. You can trust your merchandise supports living wages and good working conditions 
  2. Domestic supply chains have a reduced environmental impact, and they’re more resistant to logistical disruptions
  3. Long-term relationships and working through a merchandise partner provide economies of scale, making ethical merch more accessibly priced. 

F.I.I. tracks all individual unions, the standards and guidelines they adhere to, and the manufacturers and brands that use them. All this information is indexed in our catalog, so when your task is to find union-printed merchandise that adheres to your nonprofit or campaign’s ethical standards, it’s not a wild goose chase. 

The right partner makes sourcing USA-made, union-printed goods easy. You might still be searching for a needle in a haystack, but now you’ve got a metal detector and a map.