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Hugs from Union 'Thugs'

Hugs from Union 'Thugs'

Forget the kissing booth, a hug from a union "thug” is so much better.

This Saturday Oregon AFL-CIO set up three “Hug-a-Thug” tables in Portland, Ore., parks (Jamison Square, Laurelhurst Park and Irving Park) where passersby were treated to hugs from Letter Carrier Willie Groshell (NALC) and members of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Leah Okin and Patrick Landers.

Anti-working family, anti-union politicians (like Sarah Palin) and pundits (like Michelle Malkin) love to call hard-working union members “union thugs,” so the Oregon AFL-CIO went out in the community to dispel this myth by reminding people these so-called “thugs” are firefighters, teachers, nurses, postal workers and dozens of  other workers we interact with every day.

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Oregon AFL-CIO union volunteers Groshell, Okin and Landers gave 14 hugs, spoke with dozens of people and handed out Work Connects Us All postcards and bookmarks, spreading the word about the good work unions do.

Intrepid hug recipients posed for a picture and received a sticker that read, “I Hugged a Thug.”

“The conversations we had were high-value, including one union skeptic who had a previous negative experience but was interested in what we had to say,” says Elana Guiney, legislative and communications director for Oregon AFL-CIO.  “Many people we spoke with had no previous union contact.”

Guiney says:

We were able to reach the critical young, urban demographic which is often skeptical about what unions have to offer we initiated peer-to-peer conversations about the value unions bring to people.

See more examples of how union members have turned the "thug" reference on its head by visiting our Pinterest board where we feature "#HugAThug" memes showing union heroes at work. These images were created by Future Majority editor, Sarah Burris

Check out the "Go Union" Pinterest board here

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