There are so many people in the country that think companies and corporations gives benefits out of the kindness of their hearts. That’s absolutely not true. If it was up to them, they wouldn’t give anything to their workers, if it can save them money in the end.
Now more than ever, people in this country are clamoring to organize. Unfortunately, companies threaten, intimidate and fire workers illegally simply for trying to organize a union in the workplace. In fact, in a recent survey 64% percent of non-union workers would prefer to have a union in their workplace.
Why? Because more union workplaces have better wages, more benefits and better work conditions than in non-union workplaces.
With Labor Day just around the corner, I thought I’d give my favorite films about union organizing and struggles. While you read them, keep in mind that it is perfectly legal to join a union in this country. All it takes is a majority of people who think the same way.
Norma Rae (1979) – The acclaimed movie about a worker who organizes her textile mill in Tennessee. Academy award for Sally Field in the title role. This is a textbook about how to organize your shop.
Matewan (1988) – This was a fictional account of a group of West Virginia mine workers in the 1920’s who strike against the company with violent results. The film takes a pacifist tone, but recognizes that personal and political convictions often must be defended with violence.
F.I.S.T. (1978) – The film follows the rise and fall of Johnny Kovak, (played suprizingly well by Sylvester Stallone) from his beginnings as an idealistic blue-collar worker to his final position as head of one of the country’s most powerful unions: the Federation of Inter-State Truckers. To achieve his dream of justice for the working man, Kovak must accept the muscle of organized crime. Though this film was a fictional account of Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa’s life, the film does a very good job of showing how some union leaders are poisoned by corruption.
Hoffa (1992) – Speaking of Hoffa, Jack Nicholson gives a first-class performance of the missing-in-action union leader. Director/co-star Danny DeVito’s unforgettable epic of the legendary Teamster boss never explains his mysterious disappearance. But the film traces Hoffa’s passionate struggle to shape the nation’s most influential labor union, his relationship with the Mob, and his subsequent conviction and prison term at the hand of Robert Kennedy.
Harlan County USA (1976) – Director Barbara Kopple documents the coal miners’ strike against the Brookside Mine of the Eastover Mining Company in Harlan County, Kentucky in June 1973. Eastover’s refusal to sign a first contract with the United Mine Workers led to the strike which lasted more than a year and included violent battles between gun-toting company thugs/scabs and the picketing miners and their supportive women-folk.
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices (2005) – This documentary by Robert Greenwald takes you behind the glitz and into the real lives of workers and their families, business owners and their communities, in an extraordinary journey that will challenge the way you think, feel and shop.
Silkwood (1983) – Based on the harrowing account of whistle blower Karen Silkwood, who died under mysterious circumstances, this film directed by Mike Nichols tells the story of a woman who discovers unsafe conditions and reckless protocol at the plant where she works. The film does well to exhume the dangers of nuclear power and the extremes of corporate greed.
Enron:The Smartest Guys in the Room (2006) – Based on the best-selling book of the same name by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, this documentary tells about one of the biggest business scandals in American history. If this film doesn’t make you angry over the extreme measures people will do to get rich, then you have ice water in your veins.
Roger & Me (1989) – Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore tells the story about his hometown (Flint, Michigan) and how the closing of the General Motors plant affected the area. He then goes on a one-man search for GM’s CEO, Roger B. Smith to explain why. Moore effectively uses humor to get his serious message across.
Enjoy your holiday!!