The LIUNA union logo in white in a repeating pattern on a black background

The Fraternal Order of Design: A Selection of U.S. Labor Union Logos, 1880s to Now

While we here at the Department of Information have successfully stamped out many attempts over the decades at unionization from within our own ranks—sometimes through illegal, quasi-legal, and morally dubious methods—we still know how to appreciate good branding when we see it.

So, instead of giving our staff Labor Day off to spend time with their families, we asked our officers, unpaid interns, and anyone hanging out in the lobby over the holiday weekend to compile some of their favorite labor union logos from over the years. Here are a few of them in no real particular order.

American Federation of Labor (AFL), 1886–1955

American Federation of Labor union label, circa 1894 via Wikimedia Commons via American Federation of Labor: History, Encyclopedia, Reference Book

The handshake heard around the world, the AFL was one of the first substantial labor union collectives in the United States. Founded by a cigar maker named Samuel Gompers, the AFL featured a pretty serious logo complete with secretive latin messages and woodcut-style illustration.

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The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, 1962–present

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association logo would look great slightly faded on a vintage t-shirt

They wouldn’t even listen to us… I’m not saying we’re elitist; doctors and lawyers are elitist. But mechanics have been shortchanged.

O.V. Delle-Femine, co-founder of AMFA
We used A.I. and Computer Vision to simulate what a modern passenger jet might look like wrapped up with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association logo like a birthday present.
The original AMFA logo was much weirder and was almost certainly hand-designed by the union co-founder (seen here) after an overnight drunk at the local airport bar.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association logo is pretty whimsical and fun. We’re ranking this a 9 out of 10.

American Federation of Teachers (AFT), 1916–present

The AFT logo, inverse on AFT Blue

While this is a negligent, missed opportunity to do some fun stuff with pencil iconography and apples we are still going to give this logo high marks since it is very solid as far as traditional logo design goes—it is clear an actual graphic designer was involved. A+ for sticking to the assignment.

International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (IBB), 1880-present

The Boilermakers union logo has some great typesetting, storytelling, and a large cast of characters but what is the plot?

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers logo is a pretty wild ride. The tightly kerned circular text is almost like an abstracted extension of the interior illustrations, radiating outward like sparks flying off a welder’s torch as he patches a hole in a sinking ship.

Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), 1945–present

The AFA logo, inverse on black

The Association of Flight Attendants was founded in 1945. Did you know that we had airplanes in 1945? The logo is flying high with weirdness, makes little to no sense, but is really great and just kind of works for some reason. Staring at it for too long makes you feel like you are 30,000 feet up in the clouds and deprived of oxygen.

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United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agriculture Implement Workers of America (UAW), 1935–present

The UAW logo in various colorways

United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agriculture Implement Workers of America (UAW) logo is a real master lesson in symmetry and symbolism. We’ve got gears, people unified by a common cause, and together it all forms a a kind of suggested wheel shape—very appropriate and cool. 

Coalition of Labor Union Women, 1974–present

Coalition of Labor Union Women logo, inverse on black
Here again we have harnessed the power of Computer Vision and A.I.—this time to imagine what the abstract, alien-language-looking CLUW logo might look like if applied to some swag.

The CLUW logo is one of the better ones out there. It looks like an unknown, ancient language (no matter what language you actually speak) and has a nice subversive, mysterious, forgotten desert-cult vibe about it.

National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), 1889–present

The NALC logo in full color on a wrinkled piece of paper

The National Association of Letter Carriers logo is just super pleasant and straightforward. It really “delivers”. 10 out of 10.

United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), 1979–present

A UFCW logo on a burger wrapper

The UFCW apparently represents “retail; meatpacking, food processing and manufacturing; hospitality; agriculture; cannabis; chemical trades; security; textile, and health care”. The logo is pretty generic and could use some refinement but is still fine for what it is.

United Farm Workers of America (UFW)

The UFW logo was allegedly designed by Richard, the younger brother of labor leader César Chávez, in 1962.

The original UFW logo (inverse on black) proudly suggests “Si Se Puede” or as we now know it from Barack Obama’s successful socialist presidential campaign “Yes, we can!”. Cool.
Left: UFW Boycott Grapes. National Museum of American History. Right: UFW Boycott lettuce. between 1965 and 1980. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

We’re not entirely sure where the eagle motif came from but it looks really nice in a symmetrical, geometric, and minimalist way (and is also quite intimidating). 

Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), 1940–present

The UWUA logo in full color

The Utility Workers Union of America logo—which represents electric, gas, steam, water, and nuclear industry workers—is a technicolor, experiential journey through the rolling hills of the American mind—both physically and geo-spiritually. It’s really fun.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), 1891–present

The IBEW logo in full, glorious color

The IBEW, which represents workers in the electrical industry (as well as some in the computer, telecommunications, and broadcasting industries) has one of the better and more recognizable union logos out there. The clenched fist clutching the god particles of electricity, defiantly raised towards the heavens, reminds non-electric-industry-working peasants that they are mere mortals and should fear the wrath and power of those with electrical knowledge.

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), 1888–present

The IAM logo imagined on a casual t-shirt.

The IAM logo is a lot of fun and gives off after-school-math-club vibes. 7 out of 10.

International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), 1896–present

The IUOE logo on Operating Engineers Blue

The International Union of Operating Engineers is ahead of the pack with their logo. It is both adorned with ambiguous latin phrases and features some subversive hidden symbolism (all of the pressure gauge hands inexplicably point towards “420”) all while maintaining an allegiance to circular symmetry and ornate minimalism. Bravo.

Special shout out to the custom Canadian version of the logo, which also has a gauge mysteriously fixed on the number 420.

American Postal Workers Union (APWU), 1971–present

The APWU logo, stamped on a crinkled mailer envelope

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) logo deviates from it’s brethren’s allegiance to the circular seal shape, instead opting for a 1980’s-corporate-tech-style fadeaway mark. There is a seal version out there but it just doesn’t look as slick as this fax-machine-company-from-1983-looking-one.

Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA!), 1903–present

The LIUNA logo, inverse and repeated

This is by far the most classic, well-rounded, and Department-of-Information-approved logo of the collection. These should be on soft vintage t-shirts in thrift stores across America. Look how visually pleasing that wireframe globe is!

This has been a brief but purposeful look at some of the more visually interesting labor union logos out there. If you’d like to learn more about labor union logos feel free to spend your Labor Day researching them on your own.