The Texas AFL-CIO and the Austin Central Labor Council launched a series of events during South By Southwest in Austin to highlight the importance of the workers who make the festival possible for the tens of thousands of visitors. The Work Connects Us All campaign is about highlighting the ways in which we are all connected by the work that we do, said René Lara, the legislative and political director for the Texas AFL-CIO.
“We are all connected through our work, and with this campaign we are thanking the workers,” Lara told NewsTaco of the public education campaign. He said the campaign is meant to highlight the importance of work, how it connects everyone, and also to replace negative ideas about unions in Texas with more positive ones using social media.
As part of the campaign Texas AFL-CIO employees and volunteers went around the festival taking photos of different workers — bartenders, taco vendors, trash collectors, stage hands and more — and shared the photos on Twitter and Facebook. (Photo above is an example). The campaign was preceded by a TV ad about the campaign that ran for six weeks leading up to SXSW.
Social media was important to the campaign because it’s focusing on young people, which in Austin means Latinos and African-Americans. Statewide, only about 5-6% of workers are unionized and the future of unions in the state is tightly very closely to this particular demographic. Thus, thanking workers and highlighting how their work connects everyone in the city, and the city’s visitors, is meant to set the stage for a more positive spin to unions in this state.
“If people weren’t picking up trash on 6th Street, this festival would turn pretty ugly pretty quick,” said Ed Stills, director of communications for the Texas AFL-CIO. “We’re all workers, we rely on each others’ work to get through the day.”
The Work Connects Us All campaign is part of a pilot program that is set to roll out nationally in the future.