7 Things You Need to Know about Union Bug Printing

Complexity of Apparel Supply Chains

Supply chains are complicated. They are less complicated for common fair trade items like coffee or handmade baskets, but we deal with promotional products. Items that have custom embellishments like screen printing and embroidery have more complex manufacturing processes than most agricultural or artisan items.

See_Instant_Pricing_Custom_ShirtsWhen considering the supply chain of any old printed T-shirt, most people who care about sweatshops immediately think of the cut-and-sew factory.

However, custom logo designs do not magically appear on your clothing- people make that part, too.

If you want to make sure your super-ethical fair trade, union made, socially-responsible, organic-eco-safe, and great quality T-shirts are sweatshop-free for the entire assembly chain, then make sure your print design has a union bug!
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Here are the seven most important things to know about union bug printing:

1. What does a union bug look like?

These are photos of union bugs:


2. What does a real union bug contain? 

A genuine label typically has a number identifying the exact union printing plant where the work was produced. It also usually has the full union name in it or a graphic representation of the union.

3. Where is a union bug printed? 

You can print a bug anywhere close to your design. Generally we place it underneath, either centered or off to the right side. It needs to be close to your artwork so it can be included on the same screen- a union bug printed randomly on the sleeve would be an extra location and charge.

4. How much more does a union bug cost?

Union bugs are free! If someone tries to charge you more to put a union bug on an item, you would be wise to question whether they get what a union bug is all about. Any union printer should know immediately what you mean if you ask for the union bug to be included.

5. What significance does a union bug have to people who see it?

If you know what a union bug is, then when you spot one you know the people who bought it cared about labor rights. (After reading this, you’ll be rewarded with this knowledge every time you see union bugs from now on). It means the people who made your stuff had fair wages and good working conditions. What could be more valuable?

6. What does a union bug mean to union workers?

When you include a union bug in your design, it shows solidarity not just to labor union members everywhere- it also shows you care especially for the people printing your shirts. They see your organization’s name next to their local’s identity, and they know you support their right to organize.

7. What does a union bug looks like on a shirt?

Here’s an example of a union bug on a printed T-shirt printed by WorX Printing an employee owned union printshop:



Credit to Judy Skartvedt for photos of the International Labor Rights Forum protest at the 2011 Fashion Week in NYC. Learn more about this unique shirt and actions for children’s labor rights:

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