At a Columbian Editorial Board meeting earlier this week, Port of Vancouver Commissioner Don Orange accused his opponent, Russell Brent, of including a fake union label on Brent’s campaign signs.
The two men are competing in the November election to represent the Port of Vancouver’s District 1 — a position currently held by Orange.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has a strong presence at the Port of Vancouver. The ILWU Local 4 estimates 214 of its members work there.
If a campaign sign is printed at a unionized print shop, that union’s label will be printed on it. The labels are sometimes called bugs because of their small size.
In this case, the label in the bottom right corner of Brent’s signs simply reads, “Union Supporter Printing.”
Labels are specific to the union they are printed by. So, a union label includes the name of the printer’s union, like the Allied Printing Trades Council or the Communications Workers of America.
Historically, candidates wanting to show they are union friendly would have their signs printed at a union print shop. Hence the reason union labels have become important for union-supporting candidates.
‘Not a union bug’
At Tuesday’s Columbian Editorial Board meeting with the two candidates, Orange brought up the union label to Brent.
“I don’t know where you’re getting this stuff printed, but that’s not a union bug,” said Orange, pointing to the label in a picture of one of Brent’s signs.
“It looks to me like it’s designed to deceive,” said Orange.
Brent said he takes full responsibility for the label.
He went on to say he lost his campaign manager early on and then established a “kitchen cabinet.” A kitchen cabinet refers to a group of close family and friends who can advise a candidate.
Brent said he had attended union meetings and mentioned to this inner circle the importance of having the union label on his signs.
“One of my overzealous kitchen cabinet members went ahead and signed up with the company that produced the signs,” said Brent. That person also included the seemingly fake union label on the signs.
Brent said that he had already met with union leaders to apologize to them, though he didn’t specify which union leaders he’d met with.
“They have been understanding to this point, and they’ve given me some grace because I am a new politician,” said Brent.
The first-time candidate said the union leaders he spoke to have not asked him to take down his signs. He plans to cover up the labels.
Brent said he was made aware of the issue two weeks before Tuesday’s editorial board meeting. But he hadn’t covered the labels up yet.
He said he planned to start covering them up Tuesday afternoon.
As of Friday afternoon, the label still appeared to be on at least one of Brent’s large campaign signs.