What is a Union Printer?

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A union printer refers to a commercial printer operated by employees who are represented by a labor union. It produces a type of printing displaying a special symbol known as the union label or “bug”. This label is often printed on various print materials to show that it was made by the members of a particular labor union. The reason why it is also referred to as a union bug is that it is kept relatively small that it often appears as a tiny insect on the print material. This label is essential for customers who prefer their items to be marked with the union bug. To understand more about a union printer, we will discuss a brief history of the union label, its benefits, and how it is used in recent times.

A Brief History About The Union Label

Brochure and magazine stitching process.

Many printing companies decided to work together as a union during the 19th century. The unionization of these companies was important at the time as it helped to distinguish organizations with high labor standards from non-unionized groups, as they were perceived to have lower standards. The earliest union printing labels were meant to signify that the items produced by the big printing companies were exclusively produced from union laborers who worked eight-hour a day. This was opposed to non-unionized workers who worked 10 hours a day on different working conditions and inconsistent printing techniques.

With the introduction of the union label, it was easy for customers to distinguish quality products from sub-standard print materials. The union printing companies gained popularity for upholding good working conditions in their facilities and providing reasonable living wages for laborers. From the 19th century onwards, the union label quickly became the standard of judging how strict and fairly a product was made.

Benefits of a Union Printer

Many union printing organizations have evolved because of the changes in the printing industry. This means that their staff has long-term experience and quality equipment to get the work done. Since most union printers are known to be authentic and so, they ensure their name is printed in the form of a union bug or label to assure customers of quality. Another benefit of union printers is that they have a great turnaround time. They are more experienced at direct mail the fact that it has always been around since the introduction of unionized printing companies in the 19th century.

Their integrated capability of keeping up with evolutionary changes in the printing industry gives them a competitive edge against the ever-growing economy. Over time, they have seamlessly embraced the new technologies, moving from print to mail to digital. The cornerstone of most union shops is that they have always had the most skilled and experienced workforce who are paid a fair salary and other employee benefits because of their amazing output. The union label is especially useful in political printing as it helps to display solidarity and support with organized labor. 

Are Union Printers Still Relevant Today?

Unions in the printing industry have significantly declined in modern times with only about 10 percent of current workers unionized in printing and publishing. The best way to know if your printed materials are union-made is to check whether they have the official union label printed on them. The bug often appears at the bottom of a title page or the corner of a product. It is illegal for any business to use a union label if they are not officially proven union printers. Since most businesses know that customers are attracted to the union bug feature on print materials, they might try to use the word “union” in their advertisements when in reality, they are not associated with one.

Due to venture capitalism and competitive prices, most union printing companies either have gone out of business or have been assimilated into main chains. The best effort that a customer looking for union printed materials can make is to search for unionized printing services in their area or locality. Not only will this help one receive the products and services he or she desires but also get them at a higher quality.

Having a union bug printed on your items can be a great way to inform customers that you support the average worker and support the labor unions. Before placing a union bug in your printable items, it is important to get authorization to do so from a registered union organization and other regulatory authorities. The bug should contain information on where the work was produced and the name of the union that backs up your authenticity.