Look for the Union Label

Union labels were introduced to differentiate union-made products from non-union made. Union members were encouraged to look for the label and buy only what was produced by unionized workers. The union label also played a part in job creation and maintenance. The IBT promoted the use of shop signs at gas stations, bakeries, florists, and department stores to let the public know these enterprises were unionized.

The earliest recorded use of a union label was in 1869, when San Francisco carpenters put an eight-hour League stamp on goods produced at shops working on an eight-hour schedule as opposed to a 10- or 12-hour schedule. In 1874, a white label was put on cigars produced by unionized cigar makers to differentiate these from cigars made in shops by low-paid Chinese contract workers. This helped fuel anti-Chinese sentiment among the white workers in the Bay Area. In the 1880s, the Cigarmakers International Union made it a general practice to label union made cigars. By this time the racist implication was gone. Other national and international unions soon followed suit. In 1909, the American Federation of Labor created a Union Label Department to coordinate use of the label in the US and Canada.