Aug. 20, 2018

UPS Employee Should be Allowed to Wear Uniform While Criticizing the Company

UPS Claims Trademark Law Forbids Use of Its Logo, Colors in Fighting Its Collective Bargaining Agreement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A UPS worker should be allowed to use the company’s name and logo in identifying himself as a UPS employee while criticizing UPS’s treatment of its employees, Public Citizen said in a complaint to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Carl Gregory, an employee of the Atlanta-headquartered company, has been dissatisfied with collective bargaining negotiations between UPS and the Teamsters Union, and for months has distributed materials critical of the company and the union at several UPS facilities in Florida and elsewhere. A proposed new contract will be the subject of a national ratification referendum in September.

UPS demanded in early July that Gregory stop using a card displaying a photograph of himself in his company uniform standing next to a UPS delivery truck during discussions with fellow union members on the grounds that doing so violates UPS’s trademark rights.

Public Citizen argues that the card does not violate any trademark laws and is fair use, as the card only identifies the employer for which he works and whose treatment of employees he hopes to reform.

As such, Gregory is seeking declaratory relief in order to continue using the card without the possibility of legal action from UPS.

“This case isn’t about me,” said Gregory. “It’s about the right of union members to speak out and not be intimidated by UPS or any corporation. I’m not alone in this – I’m part of the rank and file movement. UPS management is not going to stop us.”

According to Public Citizen attorney Paul Alan Levy, who represents Gregory along with Zack Greenamyre of the Atlanta-based Mitchell & Shapiro LLP, “Both the First Amendment and principles of fair use allow UPS workers such as Gregory to use UPS trademarks to identify themselves as employees of that company so that other workers will understand that Gregory knows whereof he speaks. UPS’ demand letter represents a crass effort to interfere with the free speech of workers as they decide whether the new proposed contract merits ratification.”

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