By Australian Council of Trade Unions ACTU, Edwina Byrne, S, Simone Rosser, Victorian Trades Hall Council VTHC
This guide offers a blueprint for building and sustaining the collective power needed for workplace and electoral wins. However, just like an architectural blueprint, lines on a page on their own do nothing. It is up to organizers, activists and elected leaders to take the guidance herein and apply it when and however you communicate.
Unions need to rebuild a shared narrative of working class solidarity – one that is more compelling than the fear-based and divisive narrative being pushed by right wing forces and capital. pg. 2
- Racial Justice Is Union Business
- What Is White Supremacy?
- Union Demography
- Language Analysis
- Message Testing
- Research Findings
- Crafting A Race-Class Narrative For Your Issue
- Example Narratives
- Themes To Inspire
- Themes To Retire
- Research Results
- Taking Our Message To The Movement
Crafting a Race-Class Narrative for your Issue
A narrative isn’t a message you can fit on a coreflute. Instead, it’s the values and philosophy that sits behind your messaging. Being clear about your narrative helps you communicate respectively on the fly, so that you’re never at a loss for words.
- Speak to the shared values of your campaign
- Name (and show) race and class – not “everyone” but “everyone – no matter where you were born”. Think of creative and relevant ways to describe the diversity in the community you’re describing.
- Unpack jargon, policy and ambiguity – a 6 year old should be able to explain your values to another 6 year old.
- Name your villain, but imply they are in the minority. Eg., “a few greedy corporations” or “certain politicians” – not whole systems like “government” or “capital”
- Use active voice – describe their actions and hold them accountable for their choices. Eg., “bosses are driving down wages” rather than “wages are slipping”.
- Name racial scapegoating and/or class war as a deliberate weapon they use to cause harm. Eg., “Conservative politicians rip funding from our TAFEs, and then blame teachers and communities when young folks can’t fnd work”.
- Refer to specific actions or outcomes, rather than “racism” or “discriminatory policies”. Where disparity exists, name the cause of the disparity eg. “Community health programs stripped of funding” rather than “life expectancy gap”.
- Name and/or show the desired outcome of our campaign (what the future will look like when we win – not just the policy but what it means for all of us)
- Re-emphasise that your “everyone” includes migrants/people of colour/first nations people
The way we talk about our own work matters. Union leaders who implicitly and explicitly take responsibility for every worker in Australia will encourage organisers and members to adopt a more inclusive mental frame of unionism, and ultimately grow cross-racial union solidarity.
Taking our Message to the Movement
For assistance developing race-class messages for your union campaign, or to request a race-class messaging workshop for your union’s officials, delegates or members, contact Edwina Byrne, Communications and Media Lead, Victorian Trades Hall Council – (03) 9659 3554, [email protected]
Every Worker in Australia: A Race Class Narrative (PDF)
Watch the presentation, Messaging Research on Race and Jobs – Applying a Race Class Narrative for Australia, based on research commissioned by the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) and conducted by the Australian Council of Trade Union Insights Unit on messaging on race and jobs. Presentations are by Edwina Byrne of the VTHC and Simone Rosser from the ACTU. This presentation was recorded via Zoom on 20th April 2022. This event was co-hosted by UnionsWA, the McKell Institute, the UWA Centre for Public Policy and Australian Fabians.
Read Presentation Slides
- Framing Issues for Social Justice Impact: Directory of Messaging Guides
- Communicating Race Class Video with Anat Shenker-Osorio
- Winning Words About Work Communicating a progressive agenda about work and beyond by Anat Shenker-Osorio
- Top 3 Messaging Tips from Anat Shenker-Osorio at Progress 2019
- How to Change the Narrative / Story
- Communication - Messaging
- Communication - Messaging - Testing_Experiments
- Social classes