Local 1 Brother becomes an Insulator Influencer

HFIAW Local 1 St. Louis Mechanic David Knipp has taken his passion for unions to the world of TikTok to promote the benefits of joining a union. And in a short time, he has become an “Insulator Influencer.”

Social media platforms have become powerful tools to raise awareness or advocate for a particular cause.  One such platform, TikTok, has gained popularity for its ability to captivate and engage audiences (mainly younger demographics) through short-form videos.

Background and journey 

Knipp’s union journey began when he was organized into the Union by current Local 1 Business Manager Gary Pauyer in 2009.

Before that, he worked non-union for about 12 years. One of the main reasons for the switch was, “the superior benefits offered by the HFIAW,” Knipp said.

The switch was positive, and Knipp has developed a reputation as a valuable Local 1 Brother.

"Knipp is a total asset to Local 1,” Pauyer said. “He’s an extremely hard-working member.”

Union advocacy via short videosIMG_3324

Knipp’s foray into TikTok began organically while on the job.

Recognizing the potential to use social media to spread the message of the union movement, Knipp seized the opportunity. Using his phone, he began to advocate for building trades unions and explain how to become a member.

Much of his content revolves around general building trades topics, promoting all the building trades unions and encouraging individuals to join. By leveraging the broad reach of TikTok, Knipp aims to educate, inform and engage with a diverse audience about the advantages of union membership.

Creating engaging, informative content 

Knipp described his approach to content creation on TikTok as flexible, allowing his creativity to guide him. He generates ideas based on what comes to mind and actively seeks feedback from his followers to shape future content.

By incorporating audience input, Knipp ensures that his videos resonate with viewers and effectively convey his message.

In an upcoming video, he plans to provide a step-by-step guide on applying to become a union member, demonstrating his commitment to educating and informing his audience.

Overcoming opposition 

As with any online platform, Knipp has encountered his fair share of internet trolls while advocating for unions TikTok. However, the positive reactions far outweigh the negative, he said.

By maintaining an unwavering focus on his truth and proudly proclaiming his union affiliation, Knipp dismisses attempts to undermine his message. The authenticity and passion he brings to his videos help establish a genuine connection with his audience, overcoming challenges and opposition.

Balancing information and entertainment 

Knipp tries to balance information and entertainment in his TikTok videos, but he makes sure it is all rooted in telling the truth, while presenting his experiences and insights.

Knipp also employs various strategies on TikTok to reach a broader audience and raise awareness about the value and importance unions can offer. He experiments with different approaches to gauge audience interest and engagement, such as parody, humor and straight factual content.

One of his more popular videos on the platform with over 800,000 views and over 56,000 likes is titled, “POV joining the Union,” where Knipp lip syncs to the song “Rockstar” by Nickleback. Knipp plays two characters, a soon-to-be-organized member and a Union Organizer.

The overall message of the video is to highlight the better pay and better life one gets when joining a union.

By adapting his content to align with popular trends and addressing different aspects of union membership, Knipp broadens his reach and effectively conveys the benefits of joining a union.

Future goals and milestones 

While Knipp acknowledges that his overall following and gaining “likes” are not his primary concern, he does want to build a larger audience to further spread the word about the benefits of becoming a union member.

He emphasizes the importance of inclusivity and eliminating gatekeeping within the union movement. Knipp aspires to explain the advantages unions offer to individuals across diverse backgrounds, ultimately creating a positive impact through the short video platform.

"Joining the Insulators Union has changed my life, “he said. “ by making these TikToks, I can get more people to join unions and change their lives for the better, then I will keep making these videos.”


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