The 2013 Multimedia Award winner was the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) for their campaign featuring public workers who service Mitt Romney’s La Jolla, Calif., neighborhood.
As the 2012 Presidential election was in full swing, AFSCME Local 127 (Council 36) members Richard Hayes, Joan Raymond, and Temo Fuentes told their stories and helped definitively shift the national conversation about the best candidate to represent all Americans, not just the wealthiest 1 percent.
In recognition of these members’ influence during the election, Campaigns and Elections Magazine awarded AFSCME a prestigious Reed Award for its “Meet Richard” video series. It won in the Web Video: Ballot Initiative or Independent Expenditure category.
The video series highlighted Richard and Joan, who are San Diego sanitation workers whose route includes the wealthy La Jolla, Calif., community where Mitt Romney has a beachfront villa. Temo repairs the fire trucks that service La Jolla. They told the world how Romney’s harmful economic policies would affect them and working people across America.
Their stories exploded, garnering more than 1.6 million views and receiving coverage from Politico, MSNBC, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and The Washington Post, among many others. It was even featured by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who spoofed it with a video called “Manservants for Mitt.”
AFSCME launched the video series two weeks after Romney’s infamous 47 percent remarks and right before the Vice Presidential debate. It helped keep the spotlight on Romney’s out-of-touch comments and kept the focus on the right-wing ticket’s dangerous policies for working families.
Richard, Joan, and Temo told their stories and they were heard. Loudly and clearly.
Video has become one of the most powerful means of communication. Looking for proof of something? Video provides it. So, how can unions use video evidence to further their goals? Here’s one example.
Lobby Day Activism
Many unions hold lobby days at their state legislature for their members. Union members meet with union officers, political directors and lobbyists to learn about key pieces of legislation and the message the union wants to deliver to legislators.
Political directors and lobbyists generally know prior to the lobby day what issues members will be covering and may also have a vote count of legislators on those issues.
By creating teams of member lobbyists, one to speak with their legislator and one to video the conversation on their smartphone, unions can get legislators on the record.
“Senator, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. As your constituent and a member of the union, I want to know if you will be supporting SB 100 which protects my pension.”
Depending on the legislators answer, that video can immediately be uploaded to the Internet (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) and then emailed out to members in that legislators district (e.g. Salsa, Blue State Digital, etc.) asking them to take action.
Legislator Supports: This email and their subsequent contact thanking the legislator will help reinforce their position on the issue.
Subject: Thank Senator Smith for protecting your pension
Senator Smith is supporting SB 100 which will protect your pension. Here’s what Senator Smith had to say.
Contact Senator Smith and thank him for protecting your pension.
Legislator Waffles: This email and their subsequent contact requesting the legislator’s support may help move their position on the issue.
Subject: Tell Senator Smith to support your pension
Senator Smith hasn’t committed to supporting SB 100 which will protect your pension. Here’s what Senator Smith had to say.
Contact Senator Smith today and ask him to support SB 100 and protect your pension.
Legislator Opposes: This email and their subsequent contact requesting the legislator change their position may help move their position on the issue.
Subject: Demand Senator Smith protect your pension
Senator Smith is opposing SB 100 which will protect your pension. Here’s what Senator Smith had to say.
Contact Senator Smith today and demand he support SB 100 and protect your pension.
When a legislator changes their position on the issue it is important to get that information out to members immediately and have them contact those legislators again, especially if their position has changed to a positive one.