AFSCME’s Social Worker Overload: Digital media stories, union advocacy and neoliberalism

Source: Tara La Rose, Journal of Industrial Relations (JIR), Vol. 58 no. 4, September 2016
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From the abstract:
This article presents a case study analysis of Social Worker Overload, a digital media story created by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and shared publicly using the social media site YouTube. This story uses worker testimonials to present a compelling story about the effects of neoliberalism on social care work in the field of child protection. This story illustrates how the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Washington State uses ‘evidence based practice’ discourses to limit the forms of knowledge that may be utilized in discussions of work overload and work design within the child protection system. Through the creation and sharing of a digital media story about their experiences, the workers present narratives demonstrating how these and other elements of neoliberalism limit the workers’ capacity to actualize the potential benefits of professional social work. Finally, the analysis considers the process of worker advocacy using digital media practices, highlighting the roll that unions play in facilitating this type of resistance.