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United Farm Workers: Ralph Lauren Is Exploiting Latinos by Using Our Black Eagle Logo

First Posted: Nov 25, 2013 03:37 PM EST

The United Farm Workers, founded in 1962 by Mexican-American civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, takes its UFW Black Eagle logo very seriously for it's a symbol of Latinos' strength and integrity, not meant to be exploited by major fashion designers, like Ralph Lauren.

According to the UFW, it found its registered trademark black eagle logo being printed and sold by the multi-million dollar clothing corporation, Ralph Lauren. It claims the designer has begun selling a T-shirt with its logo without our permission.

"UFW attorneys wrote to Ralph Lauren twice before finally getting a dismissive response claiming that people would not make the connection between the eagle on the T-shirt and the UFW logo," the UFW wrote. "That's odd as we heard about this violation from supporters who e-mailed and Facebooked us indignant about this commercial exploitation of the UFW's trademark. They didn't think it was a 'Native American inspired' eagle and neither do we."

Cesar Chavez's brother Richard designed the UFW Black Eagle so that union members could easily draw it on handmade red flags, the UFW points out.

"A symbol is an important thing. That is why we chose an Aztec eagle. It gives pride...When people see it they know it means dignity," Ceasar said. "Ralph Lauren's expropriation of the UFW's Black Eagle dishonors the trademark and those who have fought and died for the integrity it represents. It falsely implies the UFW may have endorsed Ralph Lauren clothing, damaging the UFW's extensive good will." 

The UFW is urging consumers to send an e-mail to Ralph Lauren demanding that it "respect the Latino community and UFW by immediately pulling all infringing products from its shelves," and encourages people to take action via Facebook and/or Twitter.

Last year, Ralph Lauren, who credits itself for building "a brand that embodies the best of American quality and design rooted in the rich heritage of our country" for over 45 years, found itself embrolied in another controversy. The company received major criticism for its decision to manufacture the Team USA Olympic uniforms in China.

The company's choice to use overseas production for the American team's opening ceremony berets, pants and blazers casused and uproar not only by U.S. media, but also Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The company, which was recently named "10 Most 'Likeable' Business Leaders on Twitter," has remedied the situation and Team USA will now wear the Made in the USA label. Every article of clothing made by Ralph Lauren for the U.S. Winter Olympic athletes in Sochi, including their opening and closing ceremony uniforms and their Olympic Village gear, has been made by domestic craftsman and manufacturers, The Huffington Post reports.

Ralph Lauren Corp., "which has been making most of the athletes' clothes since 2008 when it took over from Canadian clothier Roots," responded: "We have worked incredibly hard as a company to go across America to find the best partners to help us produce the Olympic uniforms at the highest quality for the best athletes in the world," said David Lauren, the company's executive vice president of advertising, marketing and corporate communications.

Now, let's see how they are going to remedy the UFW logo controversy.

According to the UFW, this isn't the first time, this type of incident has occurred. A few months ago, it found its registered trademark black eagle logo being printed and sold by Urban Outfitters without permission on t-shirts that sold for $65.

"The Latino community was in an uproar over this exploitation of our culturally rich and historic mark. Thanks to this outspoken support, Urban Outfitters contacted the UFW within hours of receiving a letter from our attorneys. Since then the UFW has been in good faith discussions with Urban Outfitters for reparations and future insurance against such violations."

The UFW is the nation's first successful and largest farm workers union currently active in 10 states. It continues to organize in major agricultural industries across the nation. Recent years have witnessed dozens of key UFW union contract victories, among them the largest strawberry, rose, winery and mushroom firms in California and the nation - 75 percent of California's mushroom industry is now under union contract.

Last week, the UFW supported 19-year-old Andres Chavez, the grandson of late United Farm Workers of America co-founder Cesar E. Chavez, who participated in a 24-hour fast for the "Fast for Families" campaign, which highlights the moral crisis caused by the nation's broken immigration system.  

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