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The garment and textile union label in the United States

“The first use of a union label was the Cigar maker’s Union in 1874 when the boxes of cigars made under union conditions were tagged with a label.”

Flash forward to 1995: The International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) and Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) combined to form UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees). In 2004 UNITE and HERE (Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees) which later came together to form UNITE – HERE.

In 2009 UNITE-HERE splits back into the original camps, with HERE maintaining control of UNITE-HERE and UNITE becoming an affiliate of SEIU and recognized as WORKERS UNITED.

You’ll find a concise timeline and A Brief History of Workers United – From the UGWA to ILGWU and Beyond!


When UNITE HERE contacted us about about their need for union labels, we jumped. Our thermal transfer printer works perfect for one color labels. We can print 2 sides and on a number of different fabrics. The labels you see pictured below were printed black on white TWT and TST.

In 1933, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) union started to include a union label in all garments that were produced.  The vintage tag shown to the left illustrates the union’s sewing machine symbol and scissors in the center of a diamond with red numbering across the center of this tag.  The left side of the tag will read ” Union Made” on the first line and either “Work Clothes”, “Suit”, or “Garment” on the second line.
In 1939 a new Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) tag was issued. The 1939 vintage label is identical to the 1934 issued tag. It has all the same features listed above except a new copyright date of 1939 followed by ACW of A.
In 1949 the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) union label tag was redesigned.  This vintage clothing tags of this type illustrate a sewing machine in the center, without scissors and a new layout for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America text.
International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) union label from a late 1950s dress. This label was used from 1955 to 1963.
In 1962 the circled R trademark symbol was added to the lower left corner of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) tags.
International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) union label from a 1960s dress. This label was used from 1963 to 1974.
From 1974-1995 the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) union label has the same design as 1964 to 1973, only in red, white and blue colors. Made in U.S.A. is colored in red and more prominent below the ILGWU logo.
From 1995-2005, after ILGWU and ACTWU combined to form UNITE, the UNITE logo replaces the scalloped circle over a needle and thread with a more minimalist style approach. This approach continues today with UNITE HERE’s union labels.
Today UNITE HERE labels maintain the minimalist style and one color print. The union label is shown here on coated satin polyester via our thermal transfer printer.

Need your own union labels?

We’re proud to service UNITE HERE, Teamsters, UFCW and Workers United for their union labels.

Please contact us today for information. We’d be happy to print your custom apparel labels and union labels for your shop!

Our thermal transfer printer can print fabric labels:

Stock Fabric (short runs) –

Union label printed on
Coated Polyester
Union label printed on
Coated Satin Polyester
Left: (flat matte) Coded Polyester
Right: (shimmer) Coated Satin Polyester
  • Widths (cut to any length):
    • 3/4 inch TWT – Coated Polyester
    • 3/4 inch TST – Coated Satin Polyester
    • 1 inch TST – Coated Satin Polyester
  • Stock ink: Black

All Fabric (custom with colors) –

  • Widths (can be cut up to 2 inches wide and cut to any length)
    • HWT – Coated Polyester Tape – Heat Resistant Tape
    • FRA – Thermal Transfer Tape – Flame Retardant Tyvek®
    • TWT – Coated Acetate Tape
    • TWT – Coated Nylon Tape
    • HSA – Heat Seal Polyurethane Tape
    • NBC – Black Coated Polyester (white ink only)
  • Ink options: Green, Red, Blue, and White (for printing on black labels)








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