Can Members Use the Teamster Logo?

The short answer is Yes. Teamsters and retirees are free to use the term Teamster and our union’s logo. But you need to know the Do’s and Don’ts.  

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Rumors abound on the internet and social media. Get the facts. Here’s everything you need to know about your rights to use the Teamster logo.

Can members use the Teamster logo?

Yes, Teamsters and retirees can use the term Teamster and the distinctive horseheads logo to identify their affiliation with our union, provided you do not alter the logo and as long as there is no confusion that you are representing the official union.  

General Secretary Treasurer Fred Zuckerman summed it up in a letter on March 1:

The IBT takes no issue with individual members using the logo to indicate their membership in the organization. The IBT also takes no issue with members using the word "Teamster" or “Teamsters" to identify themselves as members.

Can members and slates running for union office use the logo on campaign materials?

Yes. This rule is written into the IBT’s Guidelines for Conducting Local Union Elections. As Zuckerman’s letter states:

Pursuant to long-standing policy, the General Executive Board has allowed candidates for IBT union office to use the logo in the context of electioneering or campaigning for elected union office. 

Does the IBT enforce trademark restrictions on the union's name and logo?

Yes. The Teamsters, like any organization (including TDU), wants to avoid confusion about who represents the union.

The IBT protects its trademark to stop vendors from misusing or profiting from the logo. The IBT also objects to altering the logo without express permission, because this would dilute the union’s trademark rights legally. 

The IBT protects against website names that may seem like they are affiliated with the Teamsters. Websites, Facebook pages, and social media profiles can avoid these problems by choosing a name and URL (such as TDU.org) and a masthead which make it clear that they do not represent the IBT. 

Has TDU received letters from the IBT demanding changes to TDU materials or website?

Yes, several times, going back some 30 years. The most recent demand letter from the IBT to TDU was in 2022. 

TDU responded without fanfare or publicity to the letters whether they came from the Hoffa administration or the O’Brien-Zuckerman administration. 

We respect the IBT’s legitimate trademark protection, and we protect the right of all members to identify themselves as Teamsters with the logo.

In 2022, we chose to alter the design on UPS Teamsters United material to avoid a claim that we were infringing the Teamster logo. We moved on to focus on the contract campaign, enforcing contracts, supporting strikes and organizing, educating and uniting Teamsters.

Has TDU taken action to protect the rights of all Teamsters?

Yes. At one time the Hoffa administration threatened members for using the logo to identify themselves or their slates as Teamsters.

TDU retained the services of an intellectual property attorney, and successfully backed the Hoffa administration off. 

Since that time, the IBT has adopted a reasonable policy. When TDU and others have run afoul of it, small adjustments have easily been made.

Has TDU taken action to protect the rights of members against employers on trademark issues?

Yes, a number of times. Here are two important ones.  

UPS tried to take over the UPS Teamsters United website during the 2018 contract fight. We fought back and won; UPS had to withdraw its bogus legal claim.

The same year, UPS tried to stop a Teamster from passing out informational palm cards because the palm cards had his picture in UPS uniform. TDU took fast action. Attorney Paul Levy of Public Citizen filed suit in federal court in Atlanta on behalf of Florida Local 991 member Carl Gregory. Again, UPS backed off and settled the case quickly.

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