A couple of weeks ago the AFL-CIO, the largest remaining union in the US, held its annual convention in Los Angeles. The centerpiece of the convention hall was a structure holding big, bright banners featuring the art of Justseeds artists, recontextualized to refer to 15 campaigns that the AFL-CIO is working on. Favianna and I (Roger) put the project together with help from Victor Sanchez of the union, and you can see all of the individual pieces here on Roger’s Flickr page. A couple of them are included after the jump.
As you look at those images- notice something. Many of these campaigns are far away from the traditional purview of industrial unionism in this country: Carwash organizing, patient care workers, childcare workers- this represents something of a new direction for this sort of big-time national organizing (although I’m by no means an expert on current labor history or strategy). By bringing our art into this context, we’re trying to contribute to that flexibility on strategy. Art is a tool for bringing people together, helping them realize that they agree, and giving them something to refer to when they doubt their path. While we don’t often work this closely with the big unions, we found this project satisfying- helping to bring new tactics to new front lines. You can read a couple of articles about the convention and our art here, at the New York Times, and here at the Huffington Post.