St. Louis – Just because the invitation you received to a political fundraiser has a union label on it doesn’t mean it was produced by a union printer.
Just ask Matt Laufketter, owner of the Ink Spot, a union print shop in south St. Louis. Laufketter is a proud member of the Graphic Communications Council-International Brotherhood of Teamsters, an affiliate of the St. Louis Allied Printing Trades Council.
Laufketter, like all other union printers, displays the Allied Label on all of his work. The number 44 alongside the Ink Spot’s Allied Label indicates that it was produced by union members at the Ink Spot. Every union shop has an individual number identifying the printing source.
But the Ink Spot is not alone in using the 44 Allied Label.
ILLEGAL USE OF LABEL
Laufketter recently discovered that Max Burton, owner of MADCO printing in St. Louis, a non-union printer, has also been using the Ink Spot’s union label to make it appear as though MADCO’s work for political fundraisers and other events is being produced by a union shop when it’s not.
That’s not only deceptive, it’s illegal, said John Ebeling, president of the St. Louis Allied Printing Trades Council and vice president of CWA Local 6300’s Print and Media Sector.
“When you see the Allied Label on something, look at that number and then call the Allied Printing Trades Council - 314-991-0200 - to find out who that license belongs to,” Ebeling said, adding, “In fact, before you decide on a printer, we urge you to call our office to make sure it is a union printer and not someone masquerading as one.
“When someone uses the Allied Label and they don’t have a license, they are in violation of state and federal law.”
The Allied Label is registered with the U.S. Patent Office of the Commerce Department, with the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs in Canada, and with the Secretary of State in each of the 50 states in the U.S.
Illegal use, infringement, limitation and counterfeiting of registered trademarks or labels is a criminal offense throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“This is bad for the entire printing industry to have MADCO get by with doing something like this,” Ebeling said. “He’s not only defrauding the Ink Spot by using the label, he’s defrauding other union printers and, most importantly, all of the people who come to him to get union printing. A lot of innocent people and political leaders who absolutely want the union label on their printing are being deceived. MADCO is not a union shop.”
HOW THE DECEPTION WORKS
On one recent order for invitations to a fundraiser for a prominent local political leader, MADCO accepted an order for 750 invitations and envelopes then farmed out part of the order to the Ink Spot.
The Ink Spot printed 200 invitations and 250 envelopes, each properly carrying the 44 Allied Label.
MADCO then printed the remainder of the order with the Ink Spot’s Allied Label to make it appear as though all of the invitations and envelopes were produced in Ink Spot’s union shop.
Laufketter said the Ink Spot produced many such orders for MADCO, never guessing they were part of larger orders, or that MADCO was illegally misappropriating the Ink Spot’s union label.
“Looking through the state campaign expenditure reports, somehow MADCO printing has managed to do four times the amount of political work as that of the Ink Spot and other local union shops,” Laufketter said.
Buyers of printing should be aware that some non-union shops will simply photocopy a legitimate union shop’s label and print it on their material in order to deceive their customers into believing it was printed in a union shop. The best way to ensure you get what you want is to call the Allied office first and make sure the printer is really union.
Laufketter has the invoices to prove his allegations.
They were provided to him by a customer who had used MADCO for political printing in the past and mistakenly believed that MADCO was subcontracting the work to the Ink Spot or another union shop. This subcontracting is a normal procedure when one shop has more work than it can handle but doesn’t want to turn away work. This is a common practice among both union and non-union printers when they are busy.
This time, however, the customer decided to go directly to the Ink Spot instead of going to MADCO as he had done in the past. When the customer asked why the bid on the new work was slightly more than their previous work for the same quantity, Laufketter discovered the deception because he had not done the original job at all, yet his label was on it. When he asked the customer to bring in the invoices for the previous work allegedly printed by Ink Spot, the deception was discovered.
Matching MADCO invoices against his own, Laufketter discovered what appears to be a pattern dating back to 2008 of MADCO running small portions of print orders through the Ink Spot then printing the remainder of the orders at MADCO. Whether each of those orders resulted in illegal misappropriation of the Allied Label is unclear,but Laufketter says he’s not taking any chances. He’s done doing business with MADCO.
“Ink Spot has chosen not to do any subcontract work for non-union print shops,” Laufketter said.
“We don’t know how many people have been deceived,” said Ebeling, “and over what period of time. We’re investigating that now.
“I would urge anyone who wants their material printed in a quality union shop to not only check with the printer, but also check with the Allied Printing Trades Council to make sure they are being told the truth. Many times in the past we know that non-union printers will claim to be union simply to get the job. One call can resolve the issue,” Ebeling stressed. That number again: - 314-991-0200