Nonunion shop used in Smith's campaign

Trades group probes use of labor logo on materials

October 02, 2002|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

An Arbutus printing shop has apparently produced pamphlets, fund-raiser tickets, letterhead and other supplies bearing union-made labels for Democratic Baltimore county executive candidate James T. Smith Jr., even though the shop's workers are not unionized.

The Smith campaign says the shop, Creative Print Group Inc. of Arbutus, had promised to subcontract the printing to union firms. The materials include logos from the Allied Printing Trades Council of Washington indicating they were printed either by a shop in Savage or by one in Cheverly.

But representatives of the firms said they didn't do most of the work bearing their logos.

The union is investigating what it says could be illegal trademark infringement. Harold Delchamp, president of the Washington-area Allied Label Council and Local 825 of the Graphics Communication International Union, said he is collecting samples of the work and plans to demand that Creative Print Group stop using the logos. If it doesn't, he said, it could be taken to court.

Creative Print Group owner Brian M. White did not return phone messages yesterday.

Smith's financial forms show he has spent more than $14,000 at Creative Print Group. Smith's campaign manager, his son Michael P. Smith, said he contracted with Creative for the first year of the campaign because he knew the owner.

He said he knew it was not a union shop but had been assured that Creative would handle the design and administrative work and subcontract the printing to a union shop.

"I said it would have to be union," Michael Smith said. "There was no reason to think it wasn't."

Delchamp said this kind of thing happens most frequently during election season.

"Most politicians want that [logo] on their material, and they don't really bother to check to see if it really is being done in a lot of cases," he said. "There are a lot of companies that when you deal with them, you know what you're getting. To depend on a nonunion company to do it, you're really taking a chance."

Michael Smith said he has asked Creative Print Group for invoices. If the company can't provide them, he'll stop doing business with it, he said.

Nancy McCarthy, co-owner of Graphix Inc. of Savage, said she did get some Smith campaign work from Creative Print Group, but her firm did not print most of the Smith material bearing her logo.

Representatives of Fontana Lithograph Inc. of Cheverly said they did not recognize the work with their logo on it. The company's officers were out of town yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

Smith's opponent, Republican Douglas B. Riley, said that with the exception of a few pieces in the early weeks of his campaign, he has printed all of his materials at union shops.

He said he works with a printer broker, Al Mendelsohn, who is also the vice chairman of the county Republican Party, who finds union shops to do the work.

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