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The case of the disappearing bug


Now you see it …. Mark Foltyn, president of the Lansing Allied Trade Printing Council, points out the union logo that showed up on billboards for Lansing City Council candidate Brian Jeffries even though a non-union shop printed the signs. Adams Outdoor Advertising subsequently covered up the “bug.”
Don’t bother looking for the union label on two local political billboards. It’s gone – or, more precisely, covered up.

The union “bug” – a trademark that means the material was printed by a union shop – was on the billboards for Lansing City Council candidate Brian Jeffries and Circuit Court candidate Beverley Nettles-Nickerson.

Now it’s covered up by black paper.

What happened?

Adams Outdoor Advertising, which created the billboards, covered up the bug because the billboards were not printed by a union shop. The billboards were printed by Adams, which put on the bug anyway. The bug Adams put on belonged to Delta Printing Co., a local union shop.

“It happens every election year,” says Mark Foltyn, president of the Lansing Allied Trade Printing Council, which represents Delta Printing and the other eight unionized shops in the Lansing area. “It hurts our companies every year when politicians do that because we don’t get their business and it looks like we’re supporting them.”


Now you don’t . . .
The union bug is the exclusive property of the council and is registered and copyrighted with the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office, the U.S. Commerce Department and the state. Only employers who have current collective bargaining agreements and who have also signed a license agreement with the council may reproduce it.

Both Jeffries and Nettles-Nickerson have pleaded not guilty to having anything to do with the violation.

Indeed, the finger of blame seems to point at Adams.

Mike Peters, general manager of Adams’ Lansing office, agrees the politicians are blameless.

Peters says Jeffries called his salesman after he saw a proof of the billboard and said he wanted the bug on the billboard – if it belonged there.

Peters said the salesman and ad designer made a mistake by putting the bug on Jeffries’ billboard. He said they didn’t know it was wrong. He said Delta Printing’s bug ended up on the billboard because it was the only union bug the ad designer had, although exactly why he had it at all is unclear.


Mark Foltyn
As for Nettles-Nickerson’s billboard, Peters said the bug was picked up by mistake from campaign material she had sent them to use on the billboard. The material happened to be printed by Delta Printing.

Nettles-Nickerson said she had contracted with Adams to have the work done by a union shop, so she was not surprised when she saw the bug on her proof of the billboard.

She said she would have raised a question with Adams if she had known the bug said Delta Printing on it because she knew Adams was not going to print the billboards locally. But she said the bug was too small to read on the proof.

Foltyn, meanwhile, remains miffed that he had to go to the media to get any kind of explanation. He said he couldn’t get one from Adams and that Jeffries promised to call him with one but never did.

Jeffries said he remembers it differently. “I said I would check it out and take care of it,” he said.


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