TikTok Bans Medieval Instances Union Account Following Trademark Grievance

Erin Zapcic awakened Saturday morning to some unwelcome notifications on social media.

Zapcic, an actor who performs a queen at Medieval Instances in Buena Park, California, additionally helps run Fb and TikTok accounts for the new union representing employees at her citadel. The notification from Fb involved a submit by the union account that referred to as on the famed dinner-theater chain to pay a residing wage.

“Your submit has been reported for trademark infringement,” it learn, in keeping with a screenshot Zapcic shared with HuffPost. “Nobody else can see your submit. It was reported by Perico Montaner.”

Perico Montaner is the CEO of Medieval Instances.

The information was even worse over on TikTok.

“Account banned,” a notification from the social media platform learn, in keeping with a screenshot. “Your account is banned for violating TikTok’s Mental Property Coverage.”

A spokesperson for Fb mum or dad firm Meta mentioned the union’s submit was incorrectly taken down and later restored. The corporate declined to remark additional, citing litigation between Medieval Instances and the union.

TikTok didn’t reply to HuffPost’s questions Monday concerning the banning of the union’s account. It’s not clear whether or not the criticism made to TikTok stemmed from the account’s title — @Mtunitedca, a reference to the union, Medieval Instances Performers United, and its bargaining unit on the California citadel — or the content material of its posts. TikTok’s coverage covers “copyrights, emblems or different mental property rights.”

The discover Zapcic obtained from TikTok a few union account being banned.

Photograph courtesy Erin Zapcic

Zapcic mentioned the accounts hadn’t drawn any complaints till a latest TikTok video gained some traction. The union had inspired supporters to go over to Medieval Instances’ Instagram account and inform the corporate what they suppose.

“Nothing had been a problem till all of the sudden we had 30 feedback on [a company] submit saying, ‘Why don’t you pay your actors higher?’” mentioned Zapcic.

Medieval Instances didn’t reply when requested through e mail if the corporate had made complaints to the social media platforms.

In that case, these complaints can be in step with a lawsuit the corporate filed in October towards the employees’ union — the American Guild of Selection Artists, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO labor federation — alleging trademark infringement.

AGVA and the employees named their union Medieval Instances Performers United since they’re performers who work at Medieval Instances. The corporate mentioned in its court docket submitting that the union had created “client confusion” by referencing Medieval Instances in its title and by utilizing Center Ages-themed imagery.

“The weather featured within the Medieval Instances Performers Brand (i.e., citadel, swords, previous script type textual content) all resemble parts of Medieval Instances’s branding and center ages-themed décor, that are clearly meant to evoke Medieval Instances’ distinctive picture,” the corporate mentioned in its lawsuit.

The union has referred to as the go well with “frivolous” and filed an unfair labor observe cost towards the corporate over the criticism, saying it’s meant to intimidate employees and forestall them from talking out via an implied risk of litigation.

“That is fully egregious and units a harmful precedent for unions and organizing campaigns sooner or later.”

– Erin Zapcic, Medieval Instances queen and union committee member

Elsewhere, different new unions have equally referenced their employer of their title — Starbucks Employees United, Amazon Labor Union and Dealer Joe’s United, to call a couple of — however Medieval Instances seems to be the one firm that has sued over it.

Zapcic mentioned she believes the corporate has now taken its trademark warfare to social media. Complaining to TikTok and Fb can be extra than simply petty, she mentioned.

“That is fully egregious and units a harmful precedent for unions and organizing campaigns sooner or later,” Zapcic advised HuffPost. “This might occur to anybody.”

The combat over the union’s title is a part of a broader labor dispute on the Texas-based firm, which has 9 U.S. castles and one in Canada. Workers have been pushing the corporate to extend pay — many employees begin near the minimal wage, typically regardless of being skilled actors and musicians — and to deal with security considerations on the castles, together with crowd management.

Employees at Medieval Instances’ New Jersey citadel turned the first to unionize final 12 months, adopted quickly by the employees in California, regardless of the corporate’s opposition. Medieval Instances employed an anti-union advisor in New Jersey who gave speeches to employees there at a value of $3,200 a day.

The union marketing campaign has made for loads of fodder on social media, the place supporters can’t appear to withstand the jokes and puns. (“The peasants are revolting,” and so on.)

The union’s flagged Fb submit had piggybacked off a submit from an organization account for the Buena Park citadel that celebrated forged members’ “Awe-inspiring horsemanship.” The picture confirmed a Medieval Instances actor using an Andalusian. “Our horses and forged are so proficient,” the corporate’s submit learn.

“Respect the shout-out,” the union account wrote in response, tagging the corporate. “Now how about paying us a residing wage?”

The ban notification from TikTok invited Zapcic to start an attraction course of on the platform. She mentioned union members will talk about with their legal professionals tips on how to proceed. For now, if a TikTok consumer tries to go to the union’s web page, they see a message stating “Couldn’t discover this account.”

Zapcic mentioned the TikTok account had been the union’s most profitable up to now on social media. Employees launched it in December and managed to achieve greater than 8,000 followers in a matter of weeks. She mentioned it was a vital avenue for getting the union’s standpoint out to supporters and Medieval Instances prospects as employees attempt to discount their contract.

“TikTok was our strongest, most passionate viewers,” she mentioned.