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UAW admits hijacking Alabama, Auburn trademarks in failed Mercedes-Benz union drive

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union is formally notifying its members and the public at large that it did not have permission to use trademarks of The University of Alabama and Auburn University in its campaign to organize workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant near Tuscaloosa earlier this year. That effort failed in May.

Shortly before the vote, UAW produced t-shirts, merchandise and advertisements deceptively claiming affiliation using the iconic logos. Separately, pro-labor groups pushed a heavily-edited video insinuating to have the endorsement of former Alabama head football coach Nick Saban.

In a rare, joint cease and desist letter, The University of Alabama and Auburn University put UAW and its local chapters on notice before an even rarer public clarification was issued by Saban.

“UAW has been explicitly instructed to stop improperly using our trademarks in their campaign (e.g., on their website, stickers, t-shirts, etc.). Both institutions will continue to take all necessary action to protect our intellectual property rights,” the universities wrote.

Saban said, “Not only were these comments taken entirely out of context, they were also being used without my knowledge or permission. I do not personally endorse the UAW or its campaign and have asked the UAW to remove any advertisements featuring me from circulation.”

RELATED: Nick Saban denounces UAW for misrepresenting comments, likeness in advertisements

Last week, UAW began playing cleanup from the mess it caused ahead of the employee vote in a media release entitled, “UAW’s Unauthorized Use of Trademarks of The University of Alabama and Auburn University.”

“The UAW and Local 112 are notifying all members, prospective members, and members of the public, who may have seen certain materials bearing trademarks of The University of Alabama or Auburn University, that such materials were not authorized by either University and that neither the UAW nor Local 112 is affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by The University of Alabama or Auburn University,” UAW wrote.

“The materials at issue combined trademarks of UAW with marks of either The University of Alabama (the Script A Mark) or Auburn University (the AU Mark) and were used or distributed as part of UAW’s organizing campaign at Mercedes in Vance, Alabama and Coaling, Alabama. The production, distribution, and use of these materials potentially infringes The University of Alabama’s and Auburn University’s respective trademark rights, as The University of Alabama and Auburn University had no involvement with and did not endorse UAW, Local 112, or the organizing efforts at Mercedes.”

Beyond the clarification itself, UAW announced they agreed to meet the universities’ request to destroy all of the materials in violation.

“Individuals possessing any such materials are requested to return such materials to the Local 112 office located at 15321 US-11 Coaling, Alabama, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, and Friday, July 12, 2024, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2 p.m.”

Grayson Everett is the state and political editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270

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