Why Unions NEED Video

If you think of video you’ve seen about unions, it’s inevitably going to involve footage of rallies and picket lines, usually in the context of a news story on TV. But while job action and rallies are a part of what unions do, they’re just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what a the day-to-day work of running a union involves.

Take a look at how Fox News decided to represent union members in an actual news report last week:


Clearly the image of unions is hurting a little.

We all know that it’s better to show than to tell, but how do you show the work and stories your members live, and how do you show members what the union management does as part of regular operations? These are just a couple of things that video can help communicate in a way that articles and emails simply can not.

Of course, you can integrate video into an emails, put it on websites, or promote it in any number of places now. With the cost of web video coming down to incredibly accessible levels in recent years, it’s possible to use the internet to bring members and the public to parts of your union that they’ve never seen before. And once you start thinking about all the ways video can benefit a campaign –or even just regular operations– the possibilities are exciting and endless.

Here are just a few of our favourite uses. The examples are all work that we’ve done in the past 24 months.

1. Unite the base

We’ve worked with 2,000-member unions and 67,000-member unions, and one thing they all have in common is hard-working members that are busy in their jobs and often work far apart from their union brothers and sisters. Mini-documentaries for union conventions, meetings and milestones have proven useful time and time again for helping members seeing their stories reflected back to them, giving them a moment to take a step back, appreciate what their union means to them, and re-commit to the cause overall.

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2. Break down component/chapter silos

The other challenge faced by unions large and small is the fact that different chapters and components can involve such different work. This can unintentionally create silos where members are unaware of what’s going on in other chapters, or even the history behind why those other chapters are part of the same union in the first place. Here once again videos help to show people what’s going on in other chapters, breaking down the walls between chapters and making members feel more united.

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3. Use the internet to reach all members

Even if you have an annual general meeting or big union convention, it’s rare if not impossible to get every single member in a room at the same time. Having video content on the web helps even the most remote members feel more connected to the rest of the union, and may encourage them to come out to events and meet their brothers and sisters.

4. Speaking to the public

The public image of unions has faced a tough time in recent years, but as union communicators, we know how much our organizations actually work for and help the public. Content aimed outside your organization can help get that message out, raising awareness around your values that can be useful when negotiations and news stories do come up.

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5. Orient new members

New members — especially those who have never been part of a union before — can be intimidated or just misinformed about what union membership means. Video is both a friendly, engaging way to get people oriented no matter where they’re located and a great way to make sure orientation is comprehensive and consistent while ultimately saving staff’s time.

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This campaign actually ended up winning us a bunch of awards:

6. Recruit new members

Unions can always benefit from new membership, but employees have gotten used to ignoring certain mail-outs and posters. Video can break through all the other communications employees receive, making them pay attention and helping them see what membership could be like.


Of course, these six reasons aren’t the only way that video can benefit your union. But they’re a great place to get started, and can lead to thinking about communicating to members and the public in a whole new way.

Feel free to comment below with ways you could use video in your organization, or if you want to talk about it one-on-one, we’re always just a phone call away at +1 (604) 681-3694!