April 24, 2012

Secretary of State Advertises For A Union

Patrick Laverty

The Providence Journal has a story today by Randal Edgar about a "bug" on the Secretary of State's envelopes. For those unaware, a bug is a little icon that is placed on an item or a screen, sort of like advertising. You're probably familiar with the television network bugs during their programming. On NBC, they'll have the little peacock logo or recently, I've seen the peacock with the Olympic rings under it. That's what is referred to as a bug.

The Secretary of State's office takes it one step further. Their envelopes have a pretty large bug under the return address in the upper left corner. It's the logo of the United Steelworkers union. Take a look for yourself here.

Was the office aware this was going to happen? Are they ok with it?

Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis says the union symbol — or bug, as it is commonly known — is on his office’s envelopes because they were printed by a union shop and union shops “routinely put their bug on the material they print.”

Gee, if I knew the state was in the business of taking ads on their stationery in exchange for cheaper rates, I'd probably give them all the envelopers they need with the Anchor Rising URL on it. I'd probably even do this for free.

According to the article, the state saved $400 over the next lowest bidder and the order of 70,000 envelopes for $2,485. Also interesting in the article, though might not mean anything at all:

The company hired to handle the job was Regine Printing Co. Inc., of Providence — a company that has also done work for the Mollis campaign, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state. The Mollis campaign paid Regine $480 in 2011 and $2,868 in 2010, while also hiring other printers, according to the reports. In addition, two Regine employees donated to the Mollis campaign during 2010 and 2011, contributing a total of $525.
Umm, nope, nothing sounds too fishy there.

Well, I guess over here at AR, we should just keep our eyes open for any upcoming state purchase requests. Let's see what we have in that advertising budget for the next time when you get a mailing from the state, maybe it'll have the Anchor Rising "bug" prominently displayed.

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Wow, only in Rhode Island.

The State should demand that the envelopes be re-printed without the union logo. If the State doesn't do this, then the citizens should.

It's shameful.

Posted by: Bill at April 24, 2012 9:19 AM

Governments constantly use logos of companies and organizations they do business with, but this is the first time I've ever heard someone complain about it.

For example, look at government construction jobs. They all have signs with the city/state seal, the name of the mayor/governor, names local legislators, and the logo of the construction company.

I'm all for calling out government waste and cronyism, but this feels like you're stretching it a bit.

Posted by: Pardon at April 24, 2012 11:55 AM

So Pardon, you'd be ok if you got a letter from the SoS and there was a link to Anchor Rising printed on it? Or Coca Cola? Or Budweiser? Or Marlboro?

Posted by: Patrick at April 24, 2012 12:07 PM

I think comparing these envelopes (presumably used only for official communications) with construction signs is not a fair comparison. They're not the same thing. (Plus, the logo of a construction company is not the same as the logo for the union.)

If the envelopes had "Regine Printing Co, Inc" on them somewhere, your argument might make more sense. I wouldn't want the company's name placed so close to the return address, though, in any case.

For what it's worth, I'm not sure I've ever seen an envelope from a government agency with a union logo on it, period. Think of how ridiculous it is. The envelopes 'were printed by a union shop and union shops “routinely put their bug on the material they print.”'

I noticed that there is no union logo on the Regine Printing Co web site. Maybe the web site was not produced by union workers.

Also, if Mollis were truly interested in saving taxpayer money, he wouldn't have his own name printed on these envelopes.

Posted by: Bill at April 24, 2012 12:57 PM

I challenge anyone to deny that an insect is not an appropriate union symbol...

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at April 24, 2012 12:59 PM

<<< About 28,000 have been used, most of them for “two large mailings” to for-profit corporations and limited liability corporations to remind them to file annual reports, he said. >>

Funny how the "union label" was used to REMIND companies to file reports. Most likely reminding small businesses to "cough up" the annual $500 fee for the pleasure of producing a product or service while living in this state.

Glad to read the non-profits were not harrassed with this type of envelope or reminder.

Posted by: dave at April 24, 2012 4:30 PM

Jeesh, you guys will grasp at anything to toss out a little anti-union love huh. The shop bid and came in lowest. I fail to see the cronyism in that. Perhaps they could have placed the bug in a less prominent spot or forgone it but many citizens would like to know the state used a union shop and no one should be upset if they did since they were the LOWEST bidder.

Posted by: Rich at April 25, 2012 11:42 AM

Rich, then what do you think of my response to that. If Anchor Rising provided 70,000 "to spec" envelopes to the state but put the Anchor Rising link on the envelope, will that be ok too?

Or if Coke, Budweiser or Marlboro provided the envelopes? That's ok to put their "bug" on there?

Posted by: Patrick at April 25, 2012 12:04 PM

If the government had worked on a project with an organization or company, I'd be fine with including a that organization/company's logo on something associated with that project. That just seems fair given how governments and politicians insist on having their seals and names on everything they're tangentially connected to.

This seems to be more about not liking unions (or Coca-cola or Marlboro, etc.). If you don't like an organization, I understand you not wanting your government to be associated with them, but the correct response is to urge your government not to do business with that organization, not getting mad that their logo is on something.

Posted by: Pardon at April 25, 2012 2:15 PM

But, wait: the State's contract was with "Regine Printing Co, Inc" -- not the union.

In addition, I find it hard to imagine that -everything- that Regine Printing Co, Inc prints has the union logo on it.

Posted by: Bill at April 25, 2012 8:32 PM

My business has used Regine to print eenvelopes and never has a "union bug" appeared on the envelope. Regine only prints the "bug" when it is requested.

Posted by: Cattie at April 26, 2012 1:58 PM

You're listing entities with obvious conflicts that the state shouldn't be in bed with anyway. Are unions really equal in your mind to a big business that targets people in an effort to addict them to a toxic death inducing product such as Marlboro? Your level of anti-unionism is worse than I thought. A union printing company who makes the envelopes? I don't see the issue in it.

Posted by: Rich at April 26, 2012 2:04 PM

Of course you don't, Rich. Why would you bite the hand that feeds you.

Posted by: Patrick at April 26, 2012 2:07 PM

Furthermore, when the state puts on one of its infamous luncheons and serves coke at the meal, are the bottles not labeled Coke? Water bottles not labled Dasani? Anchor Rising, as a politically slanted quasi journalistic endeavor with no tangible product, only opinion, really has no business on the label either. However, unions produce things and I don't have a problem with them placing their stamp on things a sign of their pride in their work. In this case, they produced a 400 dollars savings to the taxpayers with cheaper envelopes.

Posted by: Rich at April 26, 2012 2:09 PM
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