Charlotte, NC – In one of the least union friendly states in the country, union activists are trying to break down stereotypes and let the people attending the Democratic National Convention know that union members can be warm and fuzzy too. North Carolina union members gathered outside of the convention hall yesterday and organized a "hug-a-thug" event, giving those who dare the ability to hug a union member.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, the union members were offering the public free hugs accompanied by a thank you card for stopping by and showing support. The event was part of the official convention kickoff and featured such southern staple foods as sweet tea, pulled pork, and fried pickles.
The North Carolina AFL-CIO, which ran the booth, said that in light of Republican attacks which portray union members as being "thugs," they were trying to show people they had a light fun and overall normal side too.
AFL-CIO communications director Jeremy Sprinkle told Fox News:
“We’re passing out free hugs to members of the public, reminding them that union members are hard-working Americans and we make America work just like they do. We're saying have a free union hug, bust the myth about thugs and together we make America work. The bottom line is unions are responsible for a strong and growing middle class,”
Unions retaliated against the Democrats by not supporting the convention in the same way they did in 2008.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told his executive board:
“We won’t be buying skyboxes … or bringing a big staff contingent to the convention,”
“Working people are in a profoundly unique moment – we’re having a national conversation about inequality, and it has sparked the question of what kind of country we want to be. We believe it’s absolutely the right moment to reintroduce people to unions and to our shared values about hard work, fairness and equality."