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Leave it to Big Labor to pursue the ridiculous and inane. Based on a tip from Gawker, the AFL-CIO sent a letter to men's retailer, Unionmade, demanding the retailer stop its, "unfair competition." Touted as, "as one of the best independent menswear stores in the country," by GQ, Unionmade merchandise is not in fact made solely by unions.
Unionmade's website indicates, "the name "Unionmade" was conceived around the notion of well-made and aesthetically classic goods. We strive to carry items of the utmost quality that will continue to serve the owner well over time." In an interview for the Huffington Post, professor Peter Dreier at Occidental College, asked Todd Barket, Founder of Unionmade:
So isn't the store's name, Unionmade, a bit misleading?
"It had nothing to do with unions," Barket said. "I'm surprised that people took the name literally."
In the same interview, Barket explained how he came up with the name for his store:
At first I was thinking of family names. Turn of the (20th) century. That was a time in America when things were nicely made, well-made," Barket said. "I wanted a one-word name, a strong word, and so we combined `union' and `made' into one word, and it sounded right.
But as expected, the AFL-CIO is, "not flattered by imitation." The cease and desist letter sent by AFL-CIO counsel to Unionmade Thursday demanded:
By your own admission, these stores do not necessarily sell items that are made by union members, as the name UNIONMADE would otherwise suggest. The AFL-CIO finds your use of the UNIONMADE mark highly misleading as the dictionary definition and understanding amongst the public is that “union-made” means “produced by workers belonging to a labor union.”
The letter references Dictionary.com as evidence. Additionally, the AFL-CIO has a problem with Unionmade's logo because it contains a handshake, as does the Big Labor logo.
Interestingly, other retailers employ names that are not literal. For instance, Old Navy sells more than tattered blue textiles, Banana Republic is shockingly, not an actual Banana Republic, Victoria's Secret isn't really a secret anymore, Target sells merchandise other than targets and Saks Fifth Avenue has locations that are not situated on Manhattan's premier drive. Of course the list goes on.
Following their recent success in murdering the Twinkie and failing to mobilize Wal-Mart workers in a nation-wide strike, the AFL-CIO's next endeavor seems to be gaining exclusive rights to the word, "union" and any emblem with a handshake.
Standing in solidarity with words and handshakes, the men on my shopping list can expect Christmas gifts from non-union made retailer, Unionmade.