AFL-CIO blog readers and our Facebook community loved the story about the Oregon AFL-CIO turning the right-wing characterization of unions as "thugs" on its head by setting up three “Hug-a-Thug” stations in Portland, Ore., parks where passersby received hugs from Letter Carrier Willie Groshell (NALC) and members of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Leah Okin and Patrick Landers.
Our Facebook commenters thought the Oregon AFL-CIO had a great idea setting up the “Hug-a-Thug” tables:
Postal Workers United: We're being bashed so much it's nice to see something positive about us for a change. Thanks! Sharing.
Lisa Tillman-Gibson: I married one!
John Gordon: THUG—Those Helpful Union Guys/Gals.
Laurie Jeanne Jackson: Everyone loves the mail carrier! I love USPO and unions! Solidarity forever!
Janet Ramos: I would love to be hugged by him....I am a union thug too....
Monroe Pike CLC: UNION THUG = A union member that is in the fight for our rights within the work place and abroad we as union thugs are THE PEOPLE for the PEOPLE for LIFE. In solidarity.
Russell Lack: This is awesome. As a fellow union "thug," I approve.
John Pelletier: Ha! Way to own the union "thug" crap. Wonderful!
We also had some thoughtful responses on the blog:
Smeagel4T: Oh ya, this is cool. I like it. Wonder if the Koch Brothers will be out in their local parks asking for hugs. :-)
This is a very effective tactic. Basically taking the right-wing propaganda sound bites and flipping them around. It defuses their sound bites. I was really glad to see the Obama campaign simply take ownership of the term "Obamacare," thereby not allowing the right wing to define it. This union approach is the same thing.
This is great! I love the part about REAL union members!....
Allan B. Darr:
....One of the best things the AFL-CIO did in the past was TV spots previewing a union member. While the "Hug-a-Thug" is a good idea, simply showing a union nurse, mail carrier, teacher, building trades person etc. for a 30-second spot on TV would be nice. The point is to say, "Union folks are your neighbors." If we don't tell our story (and we don't) no one will.