If you'd like to offer feedback or descriptions of these videos, send me email (link at page bottom).
Also see the new "imperfect fit" category, below. When nominating videos for this new category, please provide an explanation.
Another new category, working class or labor themes in serial programs.
WORKING CLASS VIDEOS — MOVIES
& DOCUMENTARIES (*INCLUDING LABOR VIDEOS)
À nous la liberté — (1931) ("Freedom for Us") A delightful and light-hearted commentary on society, depicting industrial working conditions as nearly identical to being in prison. Workers are required to sing songs with lyrics such as, "work is liberty". An old friendship temporarily, and then ultimately, triumphs over the employer/employee relationship in a phonograph factory, with the film culminating in merry chaos as dignitaries in top hats wildly chase after money blowing in the wind. Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times has some similar scenes, and a lawsuit by the film's German production company over possible copyright violations was settled after World War II. - French with English subtitles and an experimental musical score, available from the Turner Classic Movies collection.
The Agitator — (1944) A British film about a socialist who inherits the ownership of a major firm and begins wrestling with his beliefs.
Alien, Aliens and Aliens III — An underlying message in this series, especially in Aliens, seems to be that unrestrained capitalism is monopolistic, deceptive, and inhuman, often with horrifying consequences. The film's Company men want to bring back live specimens of Alien for use as biological weapons. There's a strong implication that the Company is ready to sacrifice individuals, whole communities, and ultimately human civilization, to the proft motive. At one point one of the humans says of the aliens that "at least they don't fuck each other over for a percentage." Doesn't paint a pleasant picture of the military as unwitting cannon fodder, either. It does, however, have a strong, intelligent, active female lead whose match can only be found in Sarah Connor's Terminator 2 performance.
All Our Lives — see: De Toda La Vida
American Dream — (1990, Barbara Kopple) Kopple's earlier 1976 documentary about striking Kentucky coal miners, Harlan County, U.S.A., might seem a more obvious choice. But American Dream speaks directly to the era of downsizing, and the waning power and focus of labor unions. During the long, painful strike at the Hormel meatpacking plant in Austin, Minn., we realize the union members are fighting each other while the employers hold all the cards. Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996. Some suggest due to some weaknesses, this video is best used in conjunction with Peter Rachleff's book on the Hormel strike.
American Jobs — Documentary explores the impact of low-wage foreign competition on America's workers, families and communities. Produced and directed by Greg Spotts. 2004. 62 min.
The Anarchist Guest — Emma Goldman - Follows "Red Emma" during her tumultuous life, from Russia to the United States and her eventual deportation back to Russia. 42 min.
The Anarchists — (Korea)
AN INJURY TO ONE — directed by Travis Wilkerson. YEAR 2003 -- 53 MINS, Color. Appeared at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival Daring and innovative, this variation on agitprop documentary filmmaking by Travis Wilkerson considers two murders: the 1917 lynching of an I.W.W. organizer in Butte, Montana, and the subsequent environmental "murder" of Butte by profiteering corporations. Wilkerson deftly brings together everything from the birth of the modern detective novel and the rise of Joseph McCarthy to some moody contemporary settings of traditional labor ballads. "Buzzing with ambition and dedication ... this is stirring, must-see stuff" - Austin Chronicle. Review here
A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs & Freedom— Biography of the African American labor leader, journalist, and civil rights activist, A. Philip Randolph. Randolph won the first national labor agreement for a black union, The Sleeping Car porters. Includes music of the labor and civil rights movements. 86 min.
At the River I Stand: Sanitation worker's 65 day strike in 1968 — Skillfully reconstructs the two eventful months which transformed a local labor dispute into a national conflagration. [documentary]
BATTLE for BROAD — A new action-packed video from the people who brought you "Poverty Outlaw" and "Outriders." Battle for Broad takes you through four tense days in July, 2000, as the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign prepares to take on the Philadelphia police in a battle to march up Broad Street on the opening day of the Republican National Convention. 25 minutes.
BEHIND THE LABELS - GARMENT WORKER ON U.S. SAIPAN — Produced and Directed by TIA LESSIN
Belfast, Maine — Frederick Wisemen documents life in a small fishing-and-factory New England town. The city of Belfast, Maine has suffered an economic downturn in recent years, and the town is gearing up for a new business. c1999. 248 min.
Beyond Measure: Appalachian Culture and Economy — The effect of coal and natural gas mining on the traditional Appalachian way of life and the environment. 1995. 58 min.
The Big H — American Social History Project, 1987. A film noir detective story introduces the history of working people and the challenge of interpreting the past.
The Big One — Michael Moore, director, writer, actor. A documentary of Moore's book tour for "Downsize This". On the road, Moore continues to try to expose the hypocrisy of America's corporate culture, meeting people like Studs Terkel and Steve Forbes. 1997, 90 min.
The Black Robe — Not a typical working class setting, however, The Black Robe includes some fascinating scenes which nicely illustrate a clash of cultures, simply and effectively illustrating the differences between a group of Huron Indians with cooperative, sharing "work ethic," and a nominally capitalistic priest who wishes to preserve resources to protect his "investment" strategy.
In 1634, Jesuit missionary Father Laforgue (Lothair Bluteau) arrives in the New World, hoping to convert the Huron Indian tribe to Catholicism--and, incidentally, to expedite the French colonization of Quebec. Laforgue is regarded with a combination of warmth and wariness by the natives, who refer to Laforgue and his fellow priests as "black robes". Offering his services as both guide and friend is Algonquin chief Chomina (August Schellenberg). Laforgue does little to endear himself to the Indians-- one of whom, a holy man, declares the priest a demon who will bring nothing but death and destruction. The one who suffers most is Chomina, the man who most desires peaceful coexistence.
Early in the journey, one of the Huron warriors accuses Father Laforgue of hoarding tobacco that the group might share. Laforgue at first holds back, defending his stash as a future enticement for a different group of Hurons. Another scene depicts the Indians grumbling as they walk the trail, observing in effect that they sold their labor too cheaply. They received very little-- a handful of metal axes and other tools-- in return for the arduous task of guiding the priest. Chomina observes that yes, perhaps we are being exploited, but we gave a promise. And not only are we obligated by that promise, we have come to depend upon these meagre rewards (the tools.) In an ironic coda, we learn that the "black robes" have set into motion the fall of the Hurons, simply by imposing their Christian values upon them.
Blood, Sweat & Lace — Working conditions of Asian American garment workers in Oakland, California. Workers are cheated when their subcontractor declares bankruptcy. 1994. 18 min.
Blue Collar — (1978, Paul Schrader) The ending is purposely didactic, but the trip there delves into racial and union politics at a depth seldom matched before or since. Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996. -- When Detroit auto workers Jerry, Smokey and Zeke find bills piling up and pressures bearing down, they decide to rob their corrupt union office. In a cruel twist, their small haul becomes a nightmare when the heist goes wrong.
Blue Collar Capitalism — Faced with a shutdown, asbestos workers buy out their mine. Explores the transition to worker ownership. 28 min. [documentary]
Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids — Two documentary filmmakers chronicle their time in Sonagchi, Calcutta and the relationships they developed with children of prostitutes who work the city's notorious red light district. 85 min.
Bound for Glory — (1976) Directed by Hal Ashby. Featuring: David Carradine, Ronny Cox, Melinda Dillon, Gail Strickland, Randy Quaid. David Carradine is Woody Guthrie, folk singer and champion of the working class. Follows the wandering minstrel from the dustbowl to California, to reluctant national stardom. Based on Woody Guthrie's autobiography. 149 min.
Bread and Roses — Immigrant workers working as janitors in California organize.
Breadline — 1929 - (The People's Century) The 1920s were prosperous, until the crash in 1929. From Europe and the United States to Latin America and Asia, the Great Depression shattered economies and communities worldwide. Workers from the United States, Chile, Britain, Belgium and Scandinavia recall the hungry 1930s. c1998. 56 min.
Brokeback Mountain — working class gay cowboys.
BULLET BARGAINING AT LUDLOW — Recounts an infamous chapter in Colorado history when militia and striking coal miners clashed on the plains of south Colorado at Ludlow. YEAR: 1964. 20 MIN.
Bum's Paradise — A documentary about the Albany Landfill Encampment
Business as Usual — A British drama about a woman fired for protesting sexual harassment, who inspires a nation-wide strike that successfully gets her reappointed. Along the way it portrays the failures of the labor movement as the result of collaboration, and is sympathetic to the Labour Party's Militant Tendency. Liverpool Dress Shop (1987)
The Business of America — United States Steel Corporation shuts down a plant in Homestead, Pennsylvania. 1984. 56 min.
The Burning Mines: Impact of Coal Mining on Women — The family life of coal miners of Bhubaneswar, India, focus on the impact on women. 1998. 33 min. [documentary]
The Burning Season — John Frankenheimer, director, Raul Julia, Sonia Braga, Edward James Olmos, actors. The life and death of Chico Mendes, leader of the rubber tappers union in Brazil, who advocated nonviolent sit-down strikes, as a means of protecting the forests and the workers livelihoods. 1994, 123 min.
Carry On at Your Convenience — (1971) This is the tale of industrial strife at WC Boggs' Lavatory factory. Vic Spanner is the union representative who calls a strike at the drop of a hat; eventually everyone has to get fed up with him.
The Case of the Grieving Waitress — Center for Labor Research & Education, UC. A food server is suspended by her supervisor and enlists the aid of her steward. 1986, 15 min.
Challenge To America —
Chicano!: The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, The Struggle in the Field — Farmworkers form a national labor union. Cesar Chavez leads farmworkers in a strike against California grape growers in 1965, demanding better working conditions and fair wages. In 1970, they undertook a national table grape boycott that eventually led to the first union contracts in farm labor history. 2nd episode in a series of 4.
Child Labor — [Parts 1 and 2] - Looks at Pakistan's system of child labor and the movement to abolish it. Investigates the complicity of U.S. corporations. Broadcast April 1995 and July 1996.
China 21 — Producer: Ruby Yang & Lambert Yam. One-hour documentary, follows four Chinese families as they step into the 21st century. Working without official permits, filmmakers Ruby Yang and Lambert Yam used compact digital video gear to record intimate portraits of ordinary people living in tumultuous times. The talk is candid and sometimes emotional. Families are small -- one child in the city, two in the country -- so children hold center stage. Veterans of the Cultural Revolution are saving up to send their son to business school. Another couple, whose son is a prize law student, glow with satisfaction. To insure his children's future, a peasant leaves his remote village to work in the quasi-legal urban job market. A farm family near Shanghai feels manhandled by the privatizing economy. They sacrifice to send their daughter to high school. "China 21" introduces otherwise anonymous people whose spark and initiative are changing their country. "China 21" was funded by the Independent Television Service, with additional support from NAATA. 2001, 60 minutes, documentary
A Christmas Carol — This is certainly generally done as a parable about the need for the wealthy employer to be generous and paternalistic, rather than as a criticism of systemic inequality, but the 1951 Alistarir Sim version shows the Leftist nature of the parable very clearly - Christmas Present with Ignorance and Want under his robe!
Cinderella Man — Russell Crowe is a boxer during the Great Depression. Directed by Ron Howard.
The City — See "La Ciudad"
City of God — Rio de Janeiro's most notorious slum. A young man discovers a way to survive -- through photography.
City of the Big Shoulders — Polish immigrants in Chicago. 1992. 52 min.
Clara Lemlich: A Strike Leader's Diary — On November 22, 1909, New York City garment workers gathered at Cooper Union to discuss pay cuts, unsafe working conditions and other grievances. After two hours of indecisive speeches by male union leaders, a young Jewish woman strode down the aisle and demanded the floor. Speaking in Yiddish, she passionately urged her coworkers to go out on strike. Clara Lemlich, a fledgling union organizer, thus launched the "Uprising of the 20,000," when, two days later, garment workers walked out of shops all over the city. A film by Alex Szalat. c2004. 51 min.
Class Dismissed — Provides a critical look at how U.S. history is taught in high school, at the myths that reduce the complexity of history into simple soundbites, and the information that never seems to make it onto the textbook pages. How can we alter this system to address the limitations of the current curriculum, to allow students to find their own place in history and the world today, to inspire them to become active learners and agents for social change. This video takes a beginning step by looking at the textbook industry, standardized testing, the lack of race and class analysis in textbooks, and the teacher’s role in introducing a range of perspectives into the classroom. Featuring authors Howard Zinn (A People’s History of the United States) and James Loewen (Lies My Teacher Told Me), New York public high school students, textbook industry insiders, and teachers, this is a must-see video for any student of American History. 2004.
Clockwatchers — Jill Sprecher, director, Parker Posey, Toni Collette, Lisa Kudrow, actors. A searing look at the world of the temp, the tedium of the work and the lack of an identity in the corporate family. The plot itself gets a little tedious, but there are little gems throughout. 1997, 96 min.
Close to the Edge: Violence in the Workplace — The Labor Institute. 1996, 19 min.
Coal Face — Directed by Alberto Cavalcanti. Life of British miners. 12 min. (1935) [Documentary]
Coal Mining Women — Women coal miners tell of the economic conditions that led them to seek employment in the coal mines and problems encountered once hired. 1983. 40 min.
Collective Voices — Massachusetts AFL-CIO. Early 19th-century workers' history, focusing on the Lawrence Strike.
Come See the Paradise — Alan Parker, director; Dennis Quaid, Tamlyn Tomita, actors. The romance and marriage of Jack, a union activist, and Lily, a Japanese-American woman, during World War II. Lily and her family are relocated to an internment camp, while Jack, powerless to help them, must deal with his union and the army. 1990, 135 min. This is a good movie.
Controlling Interest — This is the film that helped kick-off the anti-globalization movement. Examines how the ever-increasing concentration and velocity of capital affect employment in the U.S., shape patterns of development in the Third World, and influence our nation's foreign policy.
Corner in Wheat & Selected Biograph Shorts — This series of silent shorts traces Griffith's early career at the Biograph Company. "Corner in Wheat" depicts the greed of the capitalist Wheat King and how his thirst for money destroys the working class. 1909-1913, 118 min. D.W. Griffith, director. Silent.
The Corporation — Analyzes the very nature of the corporate institution, its impacts on our planet, and what people are doing in response. Based on Bakan's book "The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power", the film has been generating popular support from street level to the boardrooms of the Corporate Social Responsibility movement.
Country Boys — PBS
Cradle Will Rock — Tim Robbins, director; Bill Murray, Cherry Jones, Susan Sarondon, Vanessa Redgrave. The story of the creation and staging of Marc Blitzstein's opera about working people encompasses the story of Hallie Flanagan and the Federal Theatre, Diego Rivera painting his ill-fated mural in Rockefeller Center, and the lives of the working people struggling to survive and create during the Depression.
Daens — from Belgium. Jan Decleir stars as the real-life populist preacher Father Daens, who helped textile workers in Europe struggle for justice in the late 19th century. This is a very moving and powerful film which squarely takes on many problems which our modern industrial societies have inherited from the Industrial Revolution.
Especially heartbreaking and infuriating are the scenes which juxtapose young factory children being overworked, abused and mangled by the textile machines with rich and powerful nobles around their sumptuous dinner tables. The emotional high point of the film, for me, came when Daens gives an impromptu speech in a church, shouting out, "People scream, 'we are hungry!' Loud and clear!" It is difficult not to be emotionally caught by such a scene.
Father Daens ultimately shows in this film what Gandhi told someone: that one's religion is in one's actions, not in one's words, clothes or wealth. More:
DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE — (A parable about capitalism) Wherever prime raw material is discovered, the locals die in misery, their sons become soldiers, and their daughters are turned into servants and whores... The arrogance of rich countries towards the third world is creating immeasurable future dangers for all peoples.
Daughters of Free Men — Working conditions of young girls at the Merrimack Textile Mill in Lowell, Massachusetts during the 1830's, including a strike due to poor working conditions and wages. Farm girl Lucy Hall confronts a new world of opportunity and exploitation. American Social History Project, 1987.
Day After Day — Life in a paper-mill town in Quebec. National Film Board of Canada, 1963. 28 min.
Days Of Humanity — (Korea) by Korean Labor News Production (1 hr. 54 min) This video tells the story of the Hyundai Construction Employees Union (HCEU) and their long struggle to defend their jobs. This struggle changed their lives and exposed the nature of capitalism in South Korea.
A Day Without Sunshine — Plight of the farmworkers in the Florida citrus industry. (1976) 89 min. 1987. [Documentary]
Deadline for Action — Postwar sitdowns and what it meant to have radicals in the labor movement: an interpretation of global domination by US corporations.
Deadly Corn: Campaign for Justice at the Staley Manufacturing Company — Produced by supporters of the strike by workers at the A.E. Staley corn sweetener plant in Decatur, IL, this program is an excellent review of the basic grievances behind the decision to strike. Shows that because of corporate attitudes about the dangerous chemicals used at the plant, the Staley company is becoming dangerous to the health and safety of its 800 workers and the community around it. 1994, 28 mins.
Death on A Friendly Border — By Rachel Antell, workers crossing the Mexican/U.S. border. Looks behind the headlines to the Mexican working people and farmers who are forced to live with poverty and death as the border is militarized to stop their journeys. [documentary]
The Deserter (Desertir) — Directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin. A German shipyard laborer joins a strike in defiance of a corrupt union and regardless of the company's violent reprisals. Includes a visit to Russia. (1933)
De Toda La Vida: All Our Lives — Chronicles the life of the anarchist-feminist organisation Mujeres Libres (Free Women) during the Spanish Revolution (1936-39). Includes interviews with numerous former members where they discuss revolutionary Spain and the involvement of women in the war, their relationship to other anarchist organisations, and their lives since.
The Devil and Miss Jones — Somewhat frivolous comedy about a department store tycoon, the "richest man in the world", who masquerades as a clerk to uncover an effort to unionize, but circumstances cause him to develop some sympathy for the workers. (black & white, 1941)
Dr. Toer's Amazing Magic Lantern Show — The struggle for freedom after the Civil War, as depicted by ex-slave J.W. Toer and his traveling picture show.
Doing as They Can — A fugitive woman slave describes her life, work, and day-to-day resistance on a North Carolina planation during the 1840s and 1850s. American Social History Project, 1987.
Dollar a Day, Ten Cents a Dance — Producers / Directors: Geoffrey Dunn & Mark Schwartz. Enticed by the promise of jobs and fair wages, 100,000 Filipinos immigrated to the US between 1924 and 1935 to toil on California's farmlands. Because of the exclusion of Filipina women's immigration and US anti-miscegenation laws, they survived the loneliness of racial discrimination by creating close-knit bachelor societies and entering into common law marriages, where cockfights, poker games and dance halls served as their entertainment. 1984, 29 minutes, documentary
Double Burden: Three Generations of Working Mothers — A multicultural multigenerational look at mothers and work. c1992. 56 min.
Downsize This — by Michael Moore
Drawing the line At Pittston — (Paper Tiger) coal mining, UMWA [documentary]
Dreadful Memories: The Life of Sarah Ogan Gunning, 1910-1983— Sarah performs her own songs protesting working conditions of Kentucky coal miners. 1988. 39 min.
Durruti in the Spanish Revolution — (Spain) 55 min. Buenaventura Durruti played a leading role in the Spanish civil war. Working in the trade union federation CNT, he was a syndicalist organizer against the rise of fascism and for the power of working people. (Spanish with captions).
1877, The Grand Army of Starvation — In the summer of 1877 eighty thousand railroad workers went on strike, and were joined by hundreds of thousands of other Americans. The Great Uprising inaugurated a new era of conflict over the meaning of equality in the industrial age. American Social History Project. 1987.
Eight Men Out — The loose history, directed by John Sayles, of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. The players received a pittance and turned to the only source of financial security they could find, the bookies. With stunning performance by John Cusack as the only player who refuses to go along, and a cameo by Studs Terkel.
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: The Rebel Girl — The life of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1890-1964), one of this country's most famous and important union organizers, radical activists, and defenders of civil rights. Rare archival photographs, historical film footage and recordings of her speeches shed light on her role as labor leader, orator and self-proclaimed revolutionist. c1993. 20 min.
El Norte — Two young immigrants, A brother and sister leave behind dangers in Central America and make their way to California. Tragic and inspirational.
The Empire's New Clothes — Investigates New York City sweatshops where thousands of women, primarily recent immigrants from Chinese and Latino communities, sew garments under dangerous and unfair labor conditions. A production of the Witness Project which uses video technology to investigate human rights abuses. 2000. 10 min.
Enthusiasm (Entuziazm) — Directed by Dziga Vertov. The peasants and miners of the Don River basin in Russia fulfill their first five-year plan quotas following the October Revolution. 67 min. (1922)
Even the Heavens Wept — PBS account of the massive coal miners strike in West Virginia after WWI. Thousands of miners who marched to liberate company-controlled coal camps were repressed by federal troops.
Eugene Debs and the American Movement — Biographical sketch of Eugene V. Debs, labor leader, industrial unionist, and American Socialist, in Deb's own words, narrated from his speeches and writings. 1977. 44 min.
EYES ON THE FRIES — Young Workers in the Service Economy - Low wages, erratic schedules, no health care, work-school conflicts. This film looks beyond the stereotypes of carefree and undeserving youth to uncover a reality that millions of young working people know all too well: no matter how hard you work and how well you do in school, it can be difficult to stay afloat when you're coming of age in a "McJob" economy. But there are ways to improve things — and young people are taking the lead.
Factory Farms — 1959 documentary by Harvey Richards. Tells the story of California agriculture, a highly capitalized, sophisticated industry with substandard wage rates that keep its workers in poverty. Documents 1959 labor conditions for farm workers. Produced by the United Packinghouse Workers Union. 1959. 32 min.
The Farmers Wife — Follows Juanita and Darrel Buschkoetter, a remarkable young Nebraska farm couple facing adversity. 1998. 3 videocassettes (375 min.)
Farmworkers' Diary — Living conditions, hopes and fears of Mexican migrant farmworkers in California. Their dreams and anxieties, their longing for their families and their fear of becoming unemployable as farm mechanizaton increases. Produced by Tony Cisneros and Paul Shain. 1990. 10 min. [documentary]
Fasanella — (22min.)
Fast Food Nation — A quasi-documentary.
Fast Food Women — The women who prepare the food at four different fast food restaurants in eastern Kentucky. Salaries barely above minimum wage, part time work, nobenefits. 28 min. c1991.
Fenced Out — 28 min. Produced by Paper Tiger Television with The New Neutral Zone and FIERCE Fenced Out documents the fight for the Christopher St. pier - one of the only places in New York City where youth of color, low income, homeless and l/g/b/t/q youth could once hang out. 2001.
Fiat Respect! — by Regan Brashear 2002 34.26 minutes. This film shows the historic strike action of Coalition Of University Employees strike in 2002. Thousands of UC clerical workers for the first time showed their power. It also exposes the role of the Regents of the University of California in their concerted effort to break unions and prevent workers from winning decent working conditions and benefits.
Fight Club — Shows how a working class (though white-collar) man becomes alienated and deranged, ultimately becoming part of a highly regimented guerrilla terrorist group that could be easily called vanguardist. person recommending this movie especially loves the inspirational ending and the humorously accurate portrayal of American urban life.
Fighting For Our Lives — United Farm Workers film produced when the Teamsters began to encroach on their turf.
The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers' Struggle — Produced and directed by Ray Telles, Rick Tejada-Flores. 1997. 115 min.
Finally Got the News — Workers' view of working conditions inside Detroit's auto factories. Focuses on the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in their efforts to build an independent African American labor organization which, unlike the United Auto Workers, would respond to the racism and dangerous working conditions faced by African American workers in the industry. It also explores the educational "tracking," the role of African American women in the labor force, and racial relations between workers. 1970. 55 min. [documentary]
Fire On Pier 32 — by Jack Rasmus. 70 min. strike segment. This video is a recording of the first full-length theatrical production about the San Francisco General Strike; one sees the issues and conflicts that brought the strike to a head.
F.I.S.T. — Sly Stallone plays a young truck driver who organizes a truckers union, gets heavily indebted to Mafia guns in his rise to power, and then (dumb, dumb) tries to distance himself from the Mob. Loosely based on Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters, is very sympathetic to the difficulties of workers against armed company goons.
Five Points — New York City in the 1850s as seen through the conflicting perspectives of a native-born reformer and an immigrant Irish family.
Flags For Sale — about FOC ships, ITF [documentary]
Force of Evil — (Abraham Polonsky, 1948) John Garfield, as a gambling syndicate lawyer, is pitted against his brother who runs a small, independent bookmaking operation. Racketeering is portrayed as a form of monopoly capitalism. (Steve Press)
A Forgotten People: The Sakhalin Koreans — Producer/Director: Dai Sil Kim-Gibson. Presents a neglected aspect of World War II and a tragic legacy of the Cold War: the saga of the Koreans who spent 50 years on Sakhalin Island. Koreans were brought by the Japanese to the island as forced laborers during the war, only to be abandoned to the Soviet Union in 1945. Forgotten by everyone including their own country, less than 1,000 remain of the original 43,000 laborers. It is a universal story of displaced peoples whose lives were assigned to oblivion as the power struggle unfolded in the latter part of the twentieth century.
Forsaken Fields — Producer: Midori Sperandeo.
FOURTH WORLD WAR — A doc by Big Noise Tactical, shot and edited by agit-documentarians Rick Rowley and Jacquie Soohen. It chronicles the battle against corporate globalization and privatization by the people on the planet most affected. It's refreshing to see a refreshing perspective after all of the distracting bombardment by the white house, pentagon, and the american media that towed the line in the years following 11th Sept.
Four Women — Producer/Director: Loni Ding. Courage and uncompromised idealism often drive the unappreciated work of women in America. These are the stories of four Asian American women: Heidi is a community social worker; Sara is a tenured professor and practicing architect; Shirley directs a community health clinic; Pat is a union business agent. 1982, 30 minutes, documentary
Fragile Promise — In Bangalore, India, working children have organized a union to fight for their rights and welfare. 2001. 11 min.
Frederick Douglass — A chronicle of Douglass' life, from his escape from slavery to his work on behalf of freed slaves. A & E. 1994, 50 min.
Free Trade: Who's Gonna Pay? — Labor Education Service, Univ. of Minnesota. 1992.
Free Voice of Labor–the Jewish Anarchists — The Jewish anarchist movement in the United States believed in the possibility of society without government. 1997. 60 min.
Friend or Foe — By Jiyoung Lee (2003 90 min. - US version)(Korean) Friend or Foe documents the bitter struggle of contracted workers at KT (Korean Telecommunication) against globalization. Under the imperatives of structural adjustment, KT forced workers to work under "non-regular" contracts at lower pay, heightened job insecurity and limited legal protection vis-à-vis regularly employed workers. When the company announced its new so-called downsizing plan in 2000, they fired 7,000 contract workers. The targeted workers launched a new union and waged a bitter struggle. After 517 consecutive days, the union lost, in the face of police oppression and betrayal by regularly employed workers. Friend or Foe exposes the serious situation imposed by globalization on workers compelled to accept temporary status and provides critical analysis of the weaknesses of the current labor movement. Directed by award-winning female director Jiyoung Lee who won the Best Documentary prize at the 2002 Pusan International Film Festival.
From the Mountains to the Maquiladoras — Tennessee Industrial Renewal Network.
From Wharf Rats to The Lords of The Docks — by Haskell Wexler with actor Ian Ruskin. The film is based on the life of Harry Bridges and his struggle to defend and organize the longshoremen on the West Coast. The cast includes Pete Seeger, Ed Asner and ILWU longshore workers. It makes history live for working people today who face growing threats on their lives and those of their families. The Harry Bridges Project website is here:
The Full Monty — Peter Cattaneo, director; Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy, actors. Popular British film about six men dealing with unemployment through friendship and nontraditional work. 1997, 95 min.
The Funeral — (Abel Ferrara, 1996) Christopher Walken and Chris Penn, gangster brothers involved in labor racketeering, are arranging the funeral of a third brother who had been developing leftist sympathies. (Steve Press)
The Garment Jungle — (Vincent Sherman, 1957) Robert Loggia as an ILGWU organizer trying to get a contract for workers at a clothing factory owned by Lee J. Cobb, who has hired a vicious union-busting outfit. This is one of a relatively small number of American films that is explicitly pro-union. -Steve Press
GATT, What's That?: or Afta NAFTA Where are Worker's Rights? — Through interviews with Nikos Valance of the Foundation for Economic Democracy and Hector Figuerao of the A.C.T.W.U. this program takes a harsh look at the results of NAFTA and GATT and the future predictions and strategies for labor organizing. 1995. 28 min.
Germinal — French with English subtitles. The story of coal mining families in the region of Lille, in the North of France at the end of the 19th century (about the time of the American civil war.) The miners are poor and hungry, and they work hard in awful conditions.
Pay is so low that children and young women are forced to work alongside the men, deep underground. With as many paychecks as possible, families are able to earn just enough to slowly starve. The movie depicts a dramatic contrast between the extreme poverty of the workers, and the opulant lifestyle of the mine owner's family. The desperate wives and daughters of the miners are further exploited by a perverted shopkeeper who trades food for sex.
Miners become aware of two different currents of working class consciousness, communism and anarchism (which are explored in greater depth in the book than in the movie.) The miners conduct a strike, and the consequences are dramatic and tragic. In spite of disaster in several dimensions, the main character, Etienne, maintains his belief that a new society will eventually germinate within the shell of the old.
Emile Zola's book Germinal is available online:
Getting to Heaven (Ganarse el cielo) — Hispanic immigrant workers at a New York City restaurant hope for a better life in the United States. c1996. 19 min. ["docu-drama"]
Givebacks — The impact of the Chrysler "bailout" on the UAW.
The Global Assembly Line — United States, the Philippines, Mexico, focus on free-trade zone electronic and garment factories. 1986. 58 min. [Documentary]
Globalization & Human Rights — Clash between globalization and international human rights advocacy. Gold miners in South Africa, the petroleum industry in Nigeria, the collapse of the economy of Indonesia, the Nike shoe industry in New York and Indonesia, child labor abuses in Thailand, situation in East Timor. 1998. 57 min. [Documentary]
Global Village or Global Pillage? — World Economy Project. 2000, 27 min. Jeremy Brecher, writer & producer; Edward Asner, narrator. (26min.)
Golden Cage: A Story of California's Farmworkers — History of the United Farmworkers Union. c1989. 29 min.
Golden Lands, Working Hands — A 2-part history of the labor movement in California from the 1860's to the present day. 1999. (2 hr. 50 min.) Golden Lands, Working Hands. California Federation of Teachers. Fred Glass, director& writer.
Good Will Hunting — Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck. Class is an underlying theme as Will Hunting, who had been abused as a foster child, develops genius-level intelligence, yet lives in impoverished South Boston, and works as a janitor at M.I.T. His construction buddies push him to use his special abilities, and an unpretentious therapist helps him overcome psychological barriers.
Good Work, Sister: Women Shipyard Workers of World War II, An Oral History — Women tell of their personal experiences in the shipyards at Portland, Or. and Vancouver, Wash. 1982. 20 min. Updated and available on DVD since 2006. Oral History Association award for best nonprint format oral history. www.goodworksister.org
Granton Trawler — Directed by John Grierson. Fishermen engaged in dragnet fishing in the 1930's off the coast of Scotland. 11 min. (1934) [documentary]
The Grapes of Wrath — classic movie follows the Joad family as they are forced off their Oklahoma farm and discover that paradise in California is anything but. (B&W) Based on the book by John Steinbeck.
Great Depression — (60 min. each.)
The Great Sit-Down Strike — the General Motors sit-down strike of 1936-37 at Flint, Michigan, made by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Grosse Pointe Blank — (George Armitage, 1997). Though a case can perhaps be made that a running gag in this film, Dan Aykroyd's attempt to form a union of hit men, underscores the film's portrayal of professional killers as the hired help of the ruling class, that argument is undercut by protagonist John Cusack's anti-union position. The real left-wing content of this film is the subverting of the product placement trend in movies and the solidarity with the Detroit newspaper strike by placing a "No News or Free Press Wanted" sign in a storefront window. - Steve Press
Gung Ho — (1986) Directed by Ron Howard. Michael Keaton, Gedde Watanabe, George Wendt, Mimi Rogers, John Turturro. Not a particularly favorable depiction of unions. Keaton persuades a Japanese auto firm to reopen his home town's auto factory. The hero becomes a heel as he tries to balance his own interests with those of management & the other workers. Movie is conscious of class, but not in an enlightened way. 112 min.
HAMMERING IT OUT, WOMEN IN THE CONSTRUCTION ZONE — [documentary] A film by Vivian Price. "This spirited documentary spotlights the experience of women in the building trades, specifically those women involved in the Century Freeway Women's Employment Project in Los Angeles. Framed by the story of a community-initiated lawsuit that resulted in hundreds of women getting trained to work on a billion-dollar freeway project, the film evolves into a primer on the feminist issues of equality, identity, and changing gender roles. Powerful testimonials by the women workers tell stories of the often unspoken gendered specifics of discrimination in the building trades: sexual harassment at the jobsite; negotiations about childcare and worker benefits; and the translation of affirmative action policy to the traditional practices of contractors and the historical conventions of the male worksite. The film demonstrates the importance of providing opportunity, embracing equity, and abandoning sexist traditions which deny talented women workers the right to support their families on a par equal with men. It also serves as a cautionary tale that warns that unless laws, policies, and conventions are changed, women workers may be forced out of their chosen professions, like the Rosie the Riveters, by bias and expediency." Joseph Boles, Northern Arizona University. 2000, 54 minutes, Color, VHS.
Hard Times, Soft Coal — Mining in Colorado. Eric Margolis.
Hard Work: "To Make Both Ends Meet" — Conditions for women both on and off the job in the latter part of the 19th century in Maine. Produced by Jim Sharkey. 2004. 59 min.
Harlan County, USA — Directed by Barbara Kopple. 1973 Kentucky coal miner's strike against the operators of the Brookside mine and the Duke Power Company which resulted from the company's refusal to honor the union's national contract with the United Mine Workers of America. 1976. 103 min. [Docu-drama]
Harlan County War — (2000)
Harry Bridges: A Man and His Union — Life of the union organizer, Harry Bridges and his struggles to organize stevedores on West Coast American ports. 1992. 60 min.
Harvest of Shame — The degradation and exploitation of millions of migratory farm workers in the United States. Views expressed for and against the use of migratory workers. 1960. 54 min.
The Harvesters — Late 1950's farm labor conditions in California's fields when 14- to 16- hour days paid workers at eighty-five cents to a dollar per hour. Exposes how the bracero program imported Mexican nationals to work at wages lower than the subminimum rates available to American workers. Used by Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) and United Packinghouse Workers Union as organizing film. A film by Harvey Richards. 1960.
Head Office — Ken Finkleman, director; Judge Reinhold, Richard Masur, Rick Moranis, Wallace Shawn, actors. An outrageous farce about getting ahead in the corporate world. 1986, 90 min.
Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl — The life of immigrant shirtwaist makers in New York City during the first decade of the 20th century. Working conditions, the strike movement and arrests.
The Hidden Face of Globalization — 34m, 2003. In the global economy, corporations demand enforceable laws-- intellectual property and copyright laws-- backed up by sanctions to protect their products. However, when we ask these same companies, "Can't we also protect the rights of the 16-year-old who made the product," the companies respond: "No. That would be an impediment to free trade!" So we live in a society where the label, the trademark, the logo, the product-are all protected, but not the human being who made it. [documentary]
Hito Hata: Raise the Banner — Directors: Duane Kubo & Robert A. Nakamura. Producer: Visual Communications. One of the first full length films made by and about Asian Pacific Americans, "Hito Hata" captures the contributions and hardships of Japanese Americans since the early 1900s. Veteran actor/director Mako plays a feisty Issei, one of the elderly single laborers of Los Angeles' Little Tokyo, who worked on the transcontinental railroad and later in life as a community leader. Ffeatures Pat Morita and Yuki Shimoda. 1980, 90 minutes, Drama
Homeless in Toronto: Fighting Back — Made in November 2002 at workshops in Toronto lead by veteran Tiger, DeeDee Halleck, and video professor, Rebecca Garrett, this tape gives voice to the struggle of the homeless in Toronto. 2003.
How Green Was My Valley — (coal mining family in Wales)
H-2 Worker — Exploitation of Jamaican laborers by the Florida sugar cane industry. c1990. 67 min.
The Human Cost Behind Bargain Shopping — What price do people in faraway places pay so Americans can get their bargains in stores like Wal-Mart? Dateline invented a phony clothing company to gain access to the factory floor in Bangladesh and spoke with the workers about their pay and working conditions. A segment from the June 17, 2005 NBC News television program, Dateline NBC. 29 min.
IBP Meatpacker's Video — [documentary]
If You Don't Come in Sunday, Don't Come in Monday — Manpower Education Institute. Introduction to U.S. labor history & why labor unions where formed. 1976, 60 min.
Indonesia: One Struggle, One Change — Repressive policies of the government against the labor movement and pro-democracy advocates. 1997. 30 min.
The Inheritance — The film traces the long, bitter struggle of workers against economic exploitation, throughout the 20th century. 1964, 55min. ACTWU, a labor history [documentary]
An Injury to One — Early 20th century American labor history in Butte, Montana and how the history of Butte was entirely shaped by its exploitation by the Anaconda Mining Company. Chronicles the mysterious death of Wobbly organizer Frank Little in August 1917 who was abducted by still-unknown assailants who hung him from a railroad bridge. c2002. 53 min.
The Internationale — Using rare archival footage and interviews with historians, musicians and activists, this film tells the story of this 100-year-old anthem of the oppressed and exploited, and celebrates the relationship between music and social change. 2000. 57 min.
In This Affluent Society (America's War on Poverty) — In the early 1960s, hundreds of Kentucky coal miners are displaced by machines and strike out at their former employers. Millions of others displaced by machines across Appalachia and the rural South head north to begin a new life in Chicago, where they face overcrowded tenements and schools, and the familiar inequities of segregation. 1995. 57 min.
Invisible Hand: the deindustrialization of Southern Illinois — Laid-off miners in the downstate Illinois town of Marissa can watch as freight trains snake through their town, overflowing with the low-sulfur western coal that put them out of work. ...traces the human impact of mine closings, and breaks down the complex interplay of labor and environmental factors at work in the dismantling of a region's economy.
Invisible Indians: Mixtec Farmworkers in California — The distinct culture of Mixtec Indians from Oaxaca, Mexico, who started to migrate to California in the early 1970's to work in the produce fields. 1993. 35 min.
Iron Jawed Angels — About women winning the right to vote. Great movie.
It Takes a Child: Craig Kielburger's Story: A Journey into Child Labour — In 1995 when child labor activist Iqbal Masih was killed in Pakistan, that event changed Craig Kielburger's life forever. Craig has founded "Free the Children," a children's organization that now has 10,000 members in 20 countries. Director/writer, Judy Jackson. c1998. 56 min.
The Iron Road (American Experience) — The saga of building the transcontinental railroad with special emphasis on the personal experiences and living conditions of the laborers. 1990. 59 min.
Islands on Fire — Human rights abuses in Indonesia and East Timor. Also explores how U.S. companies exploit Indonesian labor, in particular the U.S.-owned Nike Corporation. 1996. 25 min.
A Job To Win — (Bonim-Atid) By Shiri Wilk and Video 48 (Israel) 56 minutes This film exposes the introduction of construction workers from Rumania, Poland and China into Israel in order to replace Palestinians and the increasing exploitation of all workers by the employers.
Joe and the Volcano — Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, actors. The opening scene is a wonderful depiction of total workplace alienation. 1990, 102 min.
Joe Hill — (new PBS documentary) (aprox 2hrs.)
Joe Hill: The Man Who Never Died — (old network documentary) (aprox 1hr.)
The Journey of Natty Gann — A teen rides the rails in the 1930s to find her father in this light-weight, sentimental family fare. Jobs are scarce, a hobo camp is busted up by "main-streeters" in legionnaires-type caps, and the need to hustle grub presents a few reminders of the depression era.
Justice in the Coal Fields: Pittston Strike — (1995) [documentary]
Justice on the Table — Farmworkers face low wages, harsh working conditions, and a 48-year life expectancy. Farmworkers tell of their treatment in Oregon's fields. Highlights their contributions to regional and national economic prosperity. c2003. 24 min.
Kameradschaft — During a mine disaster, German miners rescue French miners from fire and explosion. Workers attempt to build international solidarity in spite of their leaders. Directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst.
Killer of Sheep — Directed, written, produced by Charles Burnett. Stan is a Black man employed in a Los Angeles slaughterhouse. (1977)
The Killing Floor — (about the stockyard workers in Chicago in 1919) History of events leading to the 1919 Chicago race riots. Black sharecropper travels north during World War I to work in the Chicago stockyards. About the effort to form an interracial industrial union in the face of growing conflict. (1997)
Korean Daewoo Workers Fight Layoffs & IMF — (Korea)
(10 min.) by Korean Daewoo Media Group Shows the militant working class
movement against the layoffs of Daewoo
Their battle against the layoffs and US-IMF policies in Korea are leading
to a growing
Labor’s Turning Point: The Minneapolis Truck Strikes of 1934 — By John De Graaf 1981 (44 min.) The only documentary on the historic Minneapolis Teamster general strike. This powerful strike led by the rank and file provided the game plan for the organization of the Teamsters nationally. Local 574 in Minneapolis was the local in July 1934 that successfully challenged the companies, politicians and national guard in winning union recognition for thousands of teamsters. It also cost the lives of two workers.
La Ciudad (The City) — David Riker director & writer. Acclaimed feature film about the struggles and hopes of a group of new Latin American immigrants, told in three stories. 1999. 88 min.
La Commune — The Paris Commune of 1871
was a takeover of the central part of Paris by working class people.
They ran things democratically, for the benefit
of the workers, and scared the hell out of governments and plutocrats
everywhere. Fear of such a thing happening here was a major reason for
the level of violent repression against the labor movement here (on this
point, see Nell Irvin Painter's book Standing at Armaggeddon). Peter
Watkins film. 5 hours 45 minutes. Originally BBC. French with English
Labor's Turning Point — A documentary about the 1934 Teamsters strike.
The Land — Director, Robert J. Flaherty, 1941. Portrays American agriculture during the depression decade. Explores the problems of agricultural unemployment, erosion of farm land, the desolate lives of migrant workers, and the role of the machine in farming. 198?. 44 min.
Land and Freedom — (1995) One view of the Spanish Civil War, this film clearly takes the point of view of the POUM in the fight against fascism and, ultimately, a struggle with Stalinist communists who were ostensibly allies. Some believe the reality of the political situation was even more complex than what is depicted in this film. But the film is dramatic, touching, and ultimately expresses a tragic finale on a personal level with an impact that approximates the geopolitical result of the civil war. Review
The Land is Rich — United Farm Workers struggle to organize California farm workers in the early 1960's. Film contrasts the economic strength of California agribusiness and migrant workers poverty and the the effect of extensive exposure to agricultural chemicals on them. The film was used by the United Farm Workers Union. A film by Harvey Richards. 1966. 27 min.
LAS CUBANAS — (working title), video documentary shot in and around Havana about the roles of women in modern Cuban society. Producer, Julia Price.
Last Exit to Brooklyn — (1989) Set in Brooklyn during the 1940s against a backdrop of union corruption and violence. A prostitute falls in love with one of her customers. Also a disturbed man discovers that he's gay.
The Last Pullman Car — Kartemquin Films. The history of the Pullman cars and their workers is the highlight of this film about the literal end of the line. 1983, 56 min.
Leaving Home — Examines the Mexico-U.S. Free Trade Agreement by looking at how workers on both sides of the border have been affected by the maquiladora program. 199?. 60 min. PBS (there are short and long versions)
LIFE and DEBT — the impact of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and current globalization policies on a developing country such as Jamaica. 2001.
Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter — Five women reminisce about their jobs and working conditions during World War II. c1987. 65 min.
Live Nude Girls Unite! — Sex workers form a union. [documentary]
Living On The Edge — A Moyers Documentary about several hardworking Milwaukee families struggling with low-paying jobs after previous employers downsized their operations. Filmed over a period of five years, these families were first featured in Moyers's 1992 documentary 'Minimum Wages: The New Economy.' FRONTLINE chronicles the families' emotional and financial strains, their search for better jobs and job retraining, and looks at Milwaukee's efforts to adapt to an ever-shrinking industrial sector.
Locked Out! The story of OCAW Local 4-620 — [documentary]
Locked Out in America: Voices From Ravenswood — We Do the Work (PBS series). Barbara Kopple, director, 30 min. A small town in West Virginia is deeply divided when steelworkers at Ravenswood Aluminum Corp. are locked out during contract negotiations. See also the book Ravenswood by Kate Bronfenbrenner & Tom Juravich, ILR Press, 1999.
The Long Walk Home — Richard Pearce, director; Whoopi Goldberg, Sissy Spacek, lead actors. Relationship of two women during the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. 98 min.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner — A bitter young man from a working-class family has a chance to please the Governor of the reform school-- or not. 110 min. Starring: James Bolam, Avis Bunnage, James Cairncross, Tom Courtenay, Peter Madden, Alec McCowen, Michael Redgrave. Directed by: Tony Richardson.
Love, Women & Flowers — By Marta Rodriquez and Jorge Silva 1988, 58 min. from Columbia (English subtitles) Flowers are Colombia 's third largest export. Behind the beauty of carnations sold in the U.S. is a horror story of hazardous working conditions for 60,000 women who labor in the flower industry. The use of pesticides and fungicides, some banned in the developed countries that export them, has drastic health and environmental consequences. This beautiful and powerful documentary is the final collaborative effort of Marta Rodriguez and her husband Jorge Silva. The filmmakers evoke the testimonies of the women workers and document their efforts to organize with urgency and intimacy. Spanish with English sub-titles.
Los Mineros — PBS series, The American Experience. History of Mexican American miners in Clifton-Morenci, Arizona, and their union's battle for fair labor practices in the copper industry. 60 min.
Lost Futures: The Problem of Child Labor — (aprox. 40 min.)
Luis R. Beltran Tunes into Bolivian Miners Radio — (Paper Tiger) [documentary]
Lulu the Tool (La classe operaia va in Paradiso) — (1971) the first Italian film about factory life, an analysis of the system and the relations between men and machines, trade unions and the new left, student protests and working class struggle, the repression of the owners and technological progress. Director: Elio Petri.
Mac — John Turturro, director and actor. The story of three brothers from a working-class Italian family trying to start their own business in Queens, NY. 1992, 117 min.
Made In Thailand — Women factory workers in Thailand and their struggle to organize unions. Producers/directors, Eve-Laure Moros, Linzy Emery. 1999. 33 min.
Maid in America — An intimate look into the lives of three Latina immigrants working as nannies and housekeepers in Los Angeles. Produced & directed by Anayansi Prado. 2004. 58 min.
Maid in Manhattan — Directed by Wayne Wang. Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Stanley Tucci, Tyler Garcia Posey, Frances Conroy, Chris Eigeman, Amy Sedaris, Bob Hoskins. Single mother working as a chambermaid at a luxury hotel in New York is mistaken for society lady. (2002)
Man of Iron — 1981, 140 min. Andrzej Wajda, director. Polish language, subtitles. Documentary and fictional footage on the Solidarity Strike at the Gdansk shipyard, Poland, 1980.
Maquila: A Tale of Two Mexicos (Emerging Powers) — Pros and cons of the maquiladora. Looks at industrialization after NAFTA, considering low wages, working conditions, environmental and cultural impact. 2000. 55 min.
Matewan — The brutal confrontations between mine operators and striking workers in West Virginia's coal fields during the 1920's. Created by writer/ director John Sayles, a stunning drama of diverse people united by a common goal. A historical prequel to the Battle of Blair Mountain, largest insurrection in the United States since the Civil War. (142 min.)
McDonald's Conveyer Belt Of Smiles — (Russia) 23 min. by KAS-KOR and Art-Stanok Film Studio. This film shows the real face of McDonald's bosses and how Moscow workers organized and fought to win a union.
Melvin and Howard — (1980, Jonathan Demme) The Odyssey of the American working stiff. Media-driven dreams, divorce, restlessness, serial employment--like a wake-up call for the '80s." Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996"
Memorable Media Moments in Labor History — Presents a survey of Hollywood films' treatment of union issues and worker's stories. Film excerpts: Salt of the earth -- Homefront -- Norma Rae -- Killing floor -- Designing women -- Matewan -- The organizer -- Nine to five -- Grapes of wrath -- A vision shared. 1992. 27 min.
Metropolis — Fritz Lang's 1927 silent classic, great movie about factory workers and an evil corporation, the end envisions harmony between competing forces.
Mickey Mouse Goes To Haiti: Walt Disney and the Science of Exploitation — 1996 documentary National Labor Committee Director Charles Kernaghan travels to Haiti to expose working and living conditions of Disney workers. Responds effectively to the argument that it's OK to pay workers in poor countries less because it costs less to live. (30min.) [cartoon]
Migrante — The lives and working conditions of migrant Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong. With English subtitles. 1988. 44 min.
The Milagro Beanfield War — Mexican-American community in New Mexico stands up to and defeats land development moguls. 1988, 117 min. Robert Redford, director.
Miles of Smiles: Years of Struggle — Personal narratives of retired porters about their work and duties on the Pullman trains and about the formation of their union. c1982. 60 min.
Mine Wars: Coal miners' War for Freedom — The coal mine wars of southern West Virginia and their influence on American life. Uses rare historical footage and letters to show the labor struggle during the early 20th century, explaining the Matewan Massacre, the Battle of Blair Mountain, and elsewhere. A film by Bill Richardson. 2004. 57 min.
Minimum Wages : the New Economy — Produced & directed by Tom Casciato ; a co-production of Thirteen/WNET and Public Affairs Television. Alexandria, Va. : PBS Home Video, 1992 (58 min.)
Modern Heroes, Modern Slaves — About an overseas contract worker from the Philippines. 1997. 45 min.
Modern Times — Directed by Charlie Chaplin, featuring Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Stanley Sandford, Chester Conklin, Hank Mann, Allan Garcia, Stanley Blystone, Dick Alexander, Cecil Reynolds, Myra McKinney. Charlie Chaplin's classic take on the exploitation of the worker.
Molders of Troy — The conflict between labor and management in Troy's 1850s foundries depicting the struggle of iron molders to form unions and to improve their work conditions. 1999. 59 min. [Documentary]
The Molly Maguires — Directed by Martin Ritt; featuring Richard Harris, Sean Connery, Samantha Eggar, Frank Finlay, Anthony Zerbe, Bethel Leslie, Art Lund. Militant coal miners go up against mine owners. A detective infiltrates. 123 min. (1970) This video provides great interior shots of a coal mine, and nicely illustrates the hard work performed by coal miners and breaker boys.
The acting is good, the cast is stellar. Otherwise, this movie is somewhat shallow. Other than poverty and dissatisfaction, the grievances of the miners are not adequately explained. The company is alluded to, but managers and owners never appear in the film. Their omnipresent stand-in, the police force, is comprised of cardboard characters.
The anger and alienation that prompt workers to commit violent acts and murder are present from the first moments of the movie, but there appears to be no adequate justification or explanation. An all too brief conversation on the subject in a prison cell at the end hints at what this film might have been.
Mondays in the Sun — A northern Spanish coastal town suffers from its own isolationism as shipyards close down, leaving the labor force scouring the streets for temp jobs with only their stubborn pride to show for it. The film puts capitalism on trial at a crucial time in its history when globalization is destroying lucrative jobs as corporations farm out their work to countries with barely adequate wage scales. a thoroughly entertaining, wholly character-driven look at a fairly homogeneous cross-section of Spain's shipyard workers that makes its political points with humor, with sorrow, with real humanity. Javier Bardem, Luis Tosar, Jose Angel Egid. Directed by Fernando León de Aranoa. 115 min. 2003.
Mother Jones: America's Most Dangerous Woman is a 24 minute documentary about the amazing labor heroine, Mary Harris Jones, known as "Mother" Jones. Featuring historian Elliott Gorn.
Mother Jones, America's Most Dangerous Woman — Mother Jones mobilized thousands of workers in struggles for justice in the early 20th century. The documentary shows the terrible conditions and labor oppression that motivated Jones to travel across the country, mobilizing thousands to fight back. A "music video" of the 1914 "Ludlow massacre" and Mother Jones' role in these events brings to life a forgotten vista of brutalities that immigrant laborers in the U.S. faced a century ago. Includes the only existing live footage of her at age "100" proclaiming she is still a radical, and awaits the day that the people will "replace this moneyed civilization," and "longs for the day when labor will have the destination of the nation in her own hands." www.motherjonesmuseum.org
Mother Trucker: The Diana Kilmury Story — TV Movie. 1996. A Teamster fights for justice.
NAFTA: A 3-way Tie for Last — Examines the "unheard voices" of the debate centering around the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, U.S. and Mexico. Presents the concerns of Canadian, American and Mexican workers, native Americans, farmers and environmentalists. 1993. 28 min.
The Navigators — (Director: Ken Loach, 2003, 92 min)
New Harvest, Old Shame — Living conditions of migrant farm workers in the United States. c1990. 59 min.
Newsies — Musical about the unionization of newsboys in Disney?s version of old New York. 1992, 125 min.
911: The Road To Tyranny — (146min.) [documentary]
9-to-5 — Directed by Colin Higgins. Dolly Parton, Lilly Tomlin, and Jane Fonda are secretaries who unite to throw off corporate patriarchy in the persona of evil boss, Dabney Coleman. 110 min. (1980)
NLC/Hard Copy Investigation of the Maquila in Nicaragua — (17min.) [documentary]
Norma Rae — Directed by Martin Ritt; featuring: Sally Field, Ron Leibman, Beau Bridges, Pat Hingle, Barbara Baxley. This 1975 classic of labor and feminist history tells the story of Norma Rae's struggle to organize her fellow textile workers in a small town in the South. Sally Field in Oscar winning performance, based on a true story. (aprox. 2hrs.)
North Country — A story from the iron range of Minnesota. "Poverty forces these women into the mine, where the air is thick with dust and misogyny... Money and fear - fear of losing family, home and independence - keep the women punching the mine clock. Money and fear also keep their heads bowed and mouths closed, even as they are subjected to veiled and open threats." The film takes its inspiration from the first sexual harassment class-action suit in the United States. Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson. Directed by Niki Caro, Chris Menges. 126 min. 2005.
Northern Lights — Northern plains radicalism circa 1915, describing the issues and hardships that drove people into the Non-Partisan League of North Dakota. This is a love story with all of the history and tragedy of the period, telling of the farmers' rebellion against the wealthy and powerful. There are scenes that you'll never forget: the old farmer who dies beneath his scarecrow on a lonely, windswept hill; threshing wheat with a belt-driven thresher, selling grain to a greedy elevator manager. A quiet, memorable movie that will leave an impression.
Nothing But a Man — Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln, actors. A black man struggles with racism, love, and class during the birth of the civil rights movement. 1964, 92 min.
No Time For Play — The plight of some three to five million Filipino children who are forced to work in factories, sugarcane plantations, even the depths of mine tunnels. 1996. 50 min.
Not In My Garden — (Palestinian Village in Israel) by Video 48, A 50 minute documentary on Ramia followed by discussion. This film shows the conditions of lives of a working class and farming Palestinian village in Israel.
Not in Our Town I & II — In 1993, the people of Billings, Montana became the target of hate crimes directed towards Jews, Native Americans, and African-Americans. The community, including unions, religious and community groups, and the local media, took action together against the hate. California Working Group, 1995. 27 min.
Occupation: 21-day sit-in at Havard for living wage — (2002) [documentary]
Office Space — Directed by Mike Judge. Featuring: Ron Livingston, Stephen Root, Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole. Comedy. c1990. 90 min. (1999)
Oh Freedom After While: 1939 Sharecroppers Roadside Protest — In January 1939, Missouri Bootheel sharecroppers--black and white--staged a dramatic roadside protest to call attention to unjust treatment by local plantation owners. 1999. 57 min.
On the Edge: America's Working Poor — Examination of the working poor in the United States. Originally broadcast on April 15, 2004 as a segment of: Nightline. 22 min.
One Day Longer: The Story of the Frontier Strike — America's longest running strike; six years, four months and ten days by 500 restaurant workers of the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas. c1999. 52 min.
On The Real — On The Real speaks with the different voices of clients from Streetworks, a drop-in center for homeless youth. Using video as a means to relate their lives, the producers confound stereotypical assumptions of homeless youth and present themselves not as wretched individuals to be pitied but rather as people, incisive, complex, and real. 2002.
On the Waterfront — This hard-hitting drama about corruption in the Longshoremen's Union stands as a major achievement in American film. Without losing any of its dramatic force, it tackles complex social, political and personal issues. The implicit support for those who testified before the HUAC gives this McCarthy-era film a disturbing edge. (108 min.) (-)
Open The Road to The Women Fighters (Paso a las luchadoras) — By the Ojo Obrero Collective 2004, 33 min. from Argentina , English subtitlesThousands of women in Argentina have taken up the struggle for liberation by their own hand. Paso a las luchadores focuses on seven women whose day-to-day struggles against sexism takes in all aspects of life. These Argentine women see that their oppression is created by the capitalist social system and in Argentina it is manifested by the lack of jobs, the double burden of exploitation that working women face, domestic and institutional violence, and in the lack of freedom to govern one's own body. (Abortion remains illegal in Argentina.) These women look to the creation of an independent assembly of the working class as the way forward for the fight for working woman's power.
Ordinary Heroes — (Hong Kong)
The Organizer — (Italian) The exploited workers in a textile mill are deadlocked in their demands until a charming, politically progressive professor gets involved in the negotiations while visiting the town. Marcello Mastroianni, Annie Girardot, Bernard Blier, Renato Salvatori, Gabriella Giorgelli directed by Mario Monicelli. 1963.
Organizing America: A History of Trade Unions in the U.S. — The struggle of American labor against the backdrop of major events that shaped American society as a whole: world wars, the industrial revolution, immigration, unemployment, class conflict, child labor, women in the workplace, civil rights and the emergence of high technology. 1994. 40 min.
Our Daily Bread — Directed by King Vidor. Tom Keene, Karen Morley, Barbara Pepper, Addison Richards. Depression movie about a collective farm and its development as a rural community of the unemployed. 1984. 100 min.
Our Land Too — the formation and history of the Southern Tenant Farmer's Union which, beginning in 1934, was as much a broad-based inter-racial social movement as it was a labor union. 57 min. color 1987
Out at Work: A Documentary — The lives of three gay workers from 1991 to 1996. 1996. 56 min.
Out of Darkness: The Mine Workers Story — Intersperses archival film footage and interviews to describe the history of the United Mine Workers of America and the history of coal mining in the United States and elsewhere. Closes with an account of the Pittston Coal Strike from the miners' perspective.  100 min. [[documentary]]
Out of Control — A 1990 documentary which combines firsthand experiences of workers and industry experts to explain the deterioration of worker safety in the petrochemical industry. Story of corporate disregard for plant safety and public heath (30 min.) [OCAW Visual Productions, PO Box 2812, Denver, CO 80201] [documentary]
Out of the Depths: The Miner's Story — (A Walk Through the 20th Century with Bill Moyers) - Coal-miners in Colorado at the turn of the century; the poor working conditions, their almost feudal existance, and their attempt at a strike. Includes interviews with former Colorado coal-miners. 1984. 58 min.
Outsourcing: White Collar Exodus — Contents: The death of distance -- A twist of the twine -- My job went to India and all I got was this lousy t-shirt -- Regulation -- Good-bye middle class -- Sushi and tulips -- There is only one constant: change. More than two million jobs have been outsourced from the U.S. to India since 2000. This documentary explores factors that encourage the outsourcing (U.S. laws, special training and cheap wages in India ...) and the impact the outsourcing has on both the U.S. and Indian workers. Analysts consider possible U.S. policy and natural economic responses to the outsourcing. 2005. 50 min.
Pajama Game — George Abbott, Stanley Donen, directors; Doris Day, John Raitt, actors. Usually remembered for Bob Fosse's choreography and Ms. Day's performance, the story is actually based on a labor dispute over a 72-cent raise for pajama factory workers. 1957, 101 min.
People Like Us — PBS video. In a first year honors colloquia at Univ Delaware, "The Culture of Work in America." It's a string of approx. 10 minute vignettes about normative perceptions of class among young people from diverse ethnic backgrounds with an excellent section on a family of the rural poor.
Perch of the Devil — History of the copper mines in Butte, Montana, the strike of 1960, the history of the Butte mines, and the many, violent struggles that have occurred in the mining camps of the western Rockies. Includes footage of mining operations in tunnels a mile below the surface and interviews with miners and victims of silicosis, a fatal lung disease among miners. A film by Harvey Richards. 24 min.
Period Films of the Great Depression — Contents: Financing the American family / Household Finance (1935, 11 min.) -- Frontiers of the future / National Industrial Council (1937, 10 min.) -- Griffith Park relief workers demonstration (1933, 3 min.) -- San Francisco General strike (1934, 3 min.) -- Valley town / producer, New York University (1940, 25 min.).
PBS Labor History — (aprox.4hrs.[in parts]) [documentary]
Phantom of the Operator — Story of female telephone operators' central place in the development of global communications, 1903-1989 A film by Caroline Martel. c2004. 66 min.
The Philadelphia Story — (Life, Part 5) This film profiles Cheri Honkala, executive director of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union of Philadelphia, one of the U.S. workers left behind by the globalized economy. How the globalized economy affects American jobs. c2000. 24 min.
Play For Keeps: The Struggle to Save NYC Community Gardens — 2000.
Pleasure For The Angels: Hip Hop in France — by Jean-Pierre Thorn. This beautiful film shows the lives of immigrant Berber, Algerian and Cameroon working class youth in France and their powerful artistic expression through Hip Hop culture. We look behind the art to the racism, unemployment and austerity that immigrant working class youth face today in France and around the world.
Poletown Lives! — Poletown, an inner-city Detroit neighborhood was destroyed in 1981 when the city used its power of eminent domain to turn the land over to General Motors for construction of a Cadillac plant. Produced and directed by George Corsetti.1982. 52 min.
A Portrait Harry Bridges — Biographical overview of the life and struggles of the union organizer, Harry Bridges.
Poverty in the Land of Plenty — Made in 1948 by the Hollywood Film Council (AFL) and others. An organizing tool until DiGiorgio Farms successfully sued its distributors for libel and effectively silenced the film. More info in Ernesto Galarza's book "Spiders in the House and Workers in the Field" (1970).
The info below is from an old page:
POVERTY OUTLAW — A story of hard choices posed by living in poverty without society's "safety net." It is told by one woman who descends from middle-class security to welfare, and then to abject poverty. Her fierce and tenacious drive to raise her children has brought this woman up against bureaucrats, politicians, and her own self-doubt. Eventually the chouces she must make have put her on the wrong side of the law. 1991. 1 hour.
A Raise Now: PCUN — [documentary]
Reds — Warren Beatty, director; Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Maureen Stapleton, actors. The story of John Reed and Louise Bryant told against the literary and political worlds of NYC, the United States, and the new Communist regime in Russia. 1981, 194 min.
Reflections, George Meany — In-depth interviews and film footage exploring early labor organizing efforts, the rise of collective bargaining, and the factors that led to the AFL-CIO merger. 1979. 60 min. [Documentary]
Remember the Titans — Denzel Washington, Will Paton, directors, based on the true-life story about a high school football team that is integrated in the early 1970's and its two coaches, the beloved Yoast, who has suddenly been demoted, and the new, tougher Boone. Explores issues of racism, class, as well as different ways of coaching and group behavior. 2000, 114 min.
Rendezvous OnThe Docks (Le Rendez Vous Des Quais)— By Paul Carpita 1955 (1 hr 15 min.) In 1953, France was occupying Indo-China, and the body bags were coming home on the docks of Marseilles. This film shot in Marseilles shows the efforts of the bosses to win over a docker who will oppose and spy on a dockers’ strike against the war in Vietnam. The film was banned in France and is one of the only dramatic films about workers’ action against war. It depicts the growing politicalization of workers who see the war as an attack on all labor.
Resistance As Democracy — (USA) 48 min by Larry Mosque and Ron Smith. This video examines the history of El Salvador and the effects of the war on working people. It also focuses on the IMF-World Bank policies of privatization and restructuring and the institutions that push these policies.
The Return of Joe Hill — (aprox.1 hr.)
Richmond Oil Strike — Strike commencing January 4, 1969 with newsreel coverage and interviews with employees on strike against Shell Oil in Martinez and Standard Oil in Richmond, California. Originally produced in 1969. 17 min. [Documentary]
Riff-Raff — (1991, Ken Loach) British socialist director Ken Loach takes you on a tour of a building site during the Thatcher era. The workers are exploited and underpaid; unions not permitted; conditions in which the men work are extremely hazardous. After one of the "mates" is killed because of unsafe equipment the workers strike back. The legacy of Thatcherism and the inept Labour Party seen through the eyes of the multi- ethnic crew at a construction site." Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996" Riff Raff, a British Film, provides an excellent portrayal of abuse of workers on a construction site in London (it appears to be London at least). Among other things, it is explicitly critical of Thacherite polices in Britain.
The River Ran Red — The story of a steel town on the Monongahela River in Homestead, Pennsylvania. Pinkerton agents invade, arousing townspeople and workers. There is a bloody confrontation, barges on the river are burned. Seven workers die, and three Pinkerton agents. The company calls for military occupation of the town. Shot on 16 mm color film, 1 hour.
Roger & Me — (1989, Michael Moore) This surprisingly successful film was a populist thumb in the eye of General Motors. Wearing a baseball cap and dingy windbreaker, Moore elbowed his way into GM offices and stockholder meetings, and documented what he considered the company's rape of his hometown of Flint, Mich. Yes, the film took cheap shots--but it took them openly and gleefully, and that was part of the fun." Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996"
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry — Morgan Freeman, Claudia McNeil, Janet MacLachlan, actors. Based on the award-winning book by Mildred Taylor, life in the Depression-era South seen through the eyes of a young black girl named Cassie Logan. 1978, 95 min.
Sacco and Venzetti — Two anarchists executed for crimes they didn't commit, 1920s (approx. 1hr. 30min.)
Sacco and Venzetti — 1921 (Landmark American Trials). 1999, 55 min.
Salt of the Earth — LAB Tells the story of a New Mexico zinc miner's strike that was taken over by the wives of the miners when they were prohibited from picketing. Most of the film crew was black listed in Hollywood in 1954 for doing this film. This movie remains a stirring demand for worker unity and sexual equality. (94 min.)
San Francisco Iron Workers Strike — 1917 Newsreel footage of striking iron workers marching down the cobblestone streets of 1917 San Francisco. 6 min.
Saturday Night And Sunday Morning — Set in the gray industrial town of Nottingham, Alan Sillitoe's novel, with all of its bleak realism, is successfully adapted to the screen. "A must see for anyone with an interest in good old working-class British Cinema." Fatalistic. follows a dissatisfied factory worker Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney) through a difficult transition from being an 'Angry Young Man' to a man who accepts the world around him. In his attempt to find satisfaction from his monotonous factory job, Arthur becomes involved with a married woman. Controversial at its release, now dated.
School Ties — Robert Mandel, director; Brendan Fraser, actor. A working class teenager in the 1950's receives a football scholarship to an exclusive prep school where he must deal with anti-Semitism. 1992, 110 min.
The Seafarers — In 1951 a 21 year old Stanley Kubrick was commissioned by the Seafarers International Union to film a documentary extolling the benefits of membership in the Seafarers Union. Originally produced as a motion picture by the Dept. of Education of the AFL-CIO in 1953. 28 min.
A Seafarer's Tale — ITF [cartoon]
The Secret to Change by Millie Jeffrey — Through seven decades, Millie Jeffery brought about change - by empowering victims of exploitation and discrimination to fight for equality and opportuniy. In the 1930's she organizd textile workers. During World War II, she helped thousands of "Rosie the Riviters" learn to thrive in a male dominated world. The 50's and 60's found Millie a pioneer among whites in the struggle for civil rights. To get progressive policymakers elected, she became a leader in Democratic Pary politics. And, when the modern women's movement was taking shape, Milie offered savvy leadership. This documentary chronicles Millie's achievements with a rich mixture of archival, educational and commercial films. The exuberant Millie offers a tested blueprint for action urging those working for social change to organize, build power coalitions and above all - never give up! In her words - "You never win freedom permanently. You have to win it time after time...whether it's union rights, civil rights, or equality for women. We have to keep at it and at it."
Seeing Red — Over 400 interviews went into producing this chronicle of Communism in the United States between 1930 and 1980. 1984, 100min.
Sewing Our Future. We Do the Work — The U.S. apparel industry in the 90's, featuring interviews with garment workers in NYC and El Salvador, and Charles Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee. (PBS series) 30 min.
Sewing Woman — Zem Ping Dong, an immigrant who worked in America's garment factories for over 30 years and her struggle, along with other Chinese women, to leave war-torn China for a new life in America. 1982. 14 min.
SHOUT YOUNGSTOWN — Video documentary on the closing of steel mills and a community's response. Produced by Media Works.
Showdown in Seattle — (150min.[in parts]) [documentary]
Silence Broken: Korean Comfort Women — Director/Producer/Writer: Dai Sil Kim-Gibson. A powerful and emotional documentary by film about Korean women forced into sexual servitude by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. 1999, 57 minutes, documentary
Silkwood — radiation and murder of an activist in the U.S. nuclear industry
Single Spark — (Korea)
Sit Down and Fight: Walter Reuther and The Rise of the Auto Workers Union — (American Experience) The story of Walter Reuther. c1992. 58 min.
Slavery: A Global Investigation — 10m, 2001 documentary - Based on the book Disposable People, Slavery: A Global Investigation exposes cases of slavery in the rug-making sector of Northwest India, the cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast, and even the homes of World Bank officials in Washington, D.C. Filmed in India, Brazil, West Africa, London, and explains how it fits into the global economy.
Smashing the Tower: The 1946 Oakland General Strike — California Federation of Teachers. 1996, 178 min.
Something to Hide — Investigates the unconditional operations of off-shore corporations contracted by American businesses while looking into the long and difficult hours that adults and children in developing countries are working to produce brand name American products for such firms as Wal-Mart. 1999. 25 min. [Documentary]
Song Of The City — Ralph Fasanella (USA) (25 min) by Jack Oldfield. The story of one of America1s most famous labor artists.
Songs of Solidarity — AFL-CIO (1991) this is where you can hear Willie Nelson singing Solidarity Forever [documentary]
Songs of The Thai Labor Movement — (Thailand) 15 min. by Thai Labour Museum & Wayang. Songs Of the Thai Labor Movement/Sieng Kammakorn is the first music video and multimedia project in the Thai labour movement. This multimedia program presents a collection of progressive songs of the movement. The initial phase of this project presents two key songs of the movement: Saksri Kammakorn (Dignity of Workers), and Kidthueng Tuk-kata (A Doll at Kader).
Stolen Childhoods — A chronicle about the growing plague of child labor that engulfs the lives of 246 million children today. In extraordinary footage of their working conditions, child slaves, bonded laborers and laboring poor children from eight countries (including the US) tell their own stories. (2005)
Stories from the Mines — Epic human rights conflict between Pennsylvania's immigrant anthracite coal miners, turn-of-the-century industrialists and the United States government. c2002. 57 min. [Documentary]
Strike (Stachka) — (1924) Directed by Sergei Eisenstein. The first full-length feature project of pantheon Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, Strike is a government-commissioned celebration of the unrealized 1905 Bolshevik revolution. The story is set in motion by a series of outrages and humiliations perpetrated on the workers of a metalworks plant. The Czarist regime is unsympathetic to the workers, characteristically helping the plant owners to subjugate the hapless victims. Finally, the workers revolt, staging an all-out strike.
Strikes, Lies, and Videotape: Labor in the Media — Discussion of the press coverage of labor issues and strikes, intercut with man-on-the-street opinions. ASHP director Stephen Brier interviews Janine Jackson, resident director of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting. 1991. 27 min.
Strikestory: San Francisco Before the '34 — Chronicles the events of the "big strike" in the summer of 1934 when dock workers and seamen shut down every West coast port from San Diego to Seattle. 100,000 workers in San Francisco staged a general strike that paralyzed the city and eventually resulted in legislation giving workers the right to organize unions. 199?. 60 min.
Stripped and Teased: Tales from Las Vegas Women — Documentary on life in Las Vegas as seen by women in various occupations. c1998. 62 min.
Struggle In The Heartland: A.E. Staley Workers fight back — [documentary]
Struggles in Steel : A Story of African-American Steelworkers — A century of black industrial history--the use of blacks as strikebreakers against the all-white union during the 1892 Homestead Strike, the Great Migration of fieldworkers to the North in World War I, the racial divisions between workers during the Great Steel Strike of 1919 and the ultimate success of the CIO organizing drives of the 1930s. When black vets returned to the mills after WWII, they were still locked into the worst jobs with no rights to bid on better-paying, higher-skilled work. The steelworkers recount how they finally won agreement in 1974 compelling the company and the union to set hiring and promotion goals for women and minorities.1996. 58 min.
Struggle in the Heartland — Focuses on the events of June 4, 1994 when 5,000 workers from the midwest came together in solidarity with the 750 striking workers of the A.E. Staley company in Decatur. Helmeted police attack the workers non-violent sit-down protest of Staley's management locking them out. Raises issues of the right to collective bargaining and to protest peacefully. Since this show does not clarify the issues involved in the strike, it is best to show it with Deadly Corn. 1994, 19 mins. 1994, Rosemary Feurer and LaborVision. For a copy, send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Studs Terkel's Working — see Working
Sullivan's Travels — Preston Sturges, director; Joel McRea, Veronica Lake, actors. Hollywood director John Sullivan decides that he must experience poverty himself to discover what the downtrodden truly need. A classic film that satirizes social theorists, Hollywood, and seriousness. 1941, 91 min.
Surviving The Good Times: A Moyers Report — Documents the lives of Tony Neumann and Claude Stanley, two men who lost their jobs at Briggs & Stratton when the corporation laid off thousands of people over the course of the 1990s, and the trials and tribulations of their families.
Sweating For A T-Shirt — (23min.)
THE TAKE — Naomi Klein (No Logo) and Avi Lewis take us on a journey to Argentina which in recent years underwent a collapse of its economy. The doc chronicles the struggle of workers to squat and reclaim factories where they once worked, inevitably bringing them back into production. This is an amazing sibling to THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED, beautifully shot and completely inspiring. www.thetake.org
Take Out — About a Chinese food delivery man in Manhattan. Powerful film that involves current issues of poverty, class, and immigration.
Take This Job and Shove It — Directed by Gus Trikonis. Robert Hays, Barbara Hershey, Art Carney, David Keith, Tim Thomerson. Old loyalties are in question during an attempt to reorganize a failing brewery. 100 min. (1981)
A Taxing Woman — (1987, Juzo Itami) The individual's relationship to the group and to the state in modern Japan, played out in a duel between a love-hotel franchiser and a tax investigator. How many movies make you want to hang with an IRS agent? Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996
Taylor Chain I: A Story of a Union Local — Taylor Chain Films. 1980, 33 min. Documentary of 7-week strike at a small chain factory in Indiana following the dispute from opening negotiations to settlement. Provides an inside view on internal union conflicts.
Taylor Chain II: A Story of Collective Bargaining — Taylor Chain Films. 1984, 30 min. Film makers return to the Taylor Chain factory to document labor and management fighting a losing battle to save the plant.
10,000 Black Men Named George — railroad porters organizing. Directed by Robert Townsend (2002, 95 min.) In the 1920s, the rights of American workers to join a labor union were still considered an open question, and African-Americans were routinely denied their civil and economic rights. So in 1925, when journalist and political activist Asa Philip Randolph and railway car porter Ashley Totten formed the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, it was a bold gesture, which proved to have a major impact in both labor and race relations in America . 10,000 Black Men Named George is a made-for-cable feature which dramatizes the struggle of Randolph (played by Andre Braugher) and Totten (Mario Van Peebles) to organize railway porters -- a demanding and sometimes dangerous job which was held almost exclusively by black men, who were paid low wages for demanding hours -- against the staunch opposition of Barton Davis (Kenneth McGreggor), head of the Pullman Railway Company and a fierce opponent of both unionization and civil rights initiatives. 10,000 Black Men Named George (the title refers to the fact Pullman porters were often called "George" by white passengers, which was considered a racial slur) also features Charles S. Dutton as Milton Webster, a veteran porter who joined the fight to organize; Carla Brothers as Lucille Randolph, Asa's wife who would play a major role in the early years of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and Brock Peters as Leon Frey, an early member of the union who would in time betray their cause.
Thank You for Your Patience — By Yahia Mahamdi, 53 minutes (2004) Thank You for Your Patience chronicles the struggles of workers who were injured at work, denied benefits by their employers and insurance companies, and who have spent years negotiating the maze of the Workers' Compensation bureaucracy. The film investigates the crisis of the Workers' Compensation through a range of testimonies primarily from injured workers but also from lawyers and law school students who work pro-bono to advise workers on their cases. The film is a tribute to these workers, chronicling their physical and emotional pain as they struggle to regain their lives and claim their rights.
There's No Such Thing as Women's Work — Gives a history of women's roles in the American work place, from the colonial period up to the present. 198?. 30 min.
They Drive by Night — Directed by Raoul Walsh. George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, Humphrey Bogart, Gale Page, Alan Hale, Roscoe Karns. Wildcat drivers worry about loan sharks and rough California roads. 94 min. (1940)
They Were Not Silent: The Jewish Labor Movement & The Holocaust — Wagner Labor Archives, New York University. 1998, 30 min.
Thieves' Highway — (Jules Dassin, 1949) Richard Conte is a truck driver who takes on crooked wholesaler Lee J. Cobb, who has been playing the drivers off against each other. - Steve Press
This Far By Faith — We Do the Work, PBS. The inspiring story of Mississippi Delta catfish processing workers who fought for and won economic justice and civil rights as the result of a long strike. Hosted by Alfre Woodard. 30 min.
This Is What Democracy Looks Like — Documentary of the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999. Tells the other side of the story, the point of view that was ignored or obscured by the corporate media.
To Kill a Mockingbird — Robert Mulligan, director; Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, actors. Based on the book by Harper Lee, this is the story of Scout, a young girl who lives in a dusty Southern town during the Depression, and of what happens when her father defends a black man accused of rape. 1962, 171 min.
Tompkins Square Park: Operation Class War on the Lower East Side — The NYC government, police, developers and the local mainstream media have been caught in the act of forcibly gentrifying New York's Lower East Side. Looks at Tompkins Square Park, the homeless problem of the neighborhood, the Riot of '88 and events leading to the closing of the park, through local radio, video and community activists. Relevant to anyone who lives in contemporary urban society. 1992.
Total Recall — Arnold Schwarzenegger is a brainwashed Martian cop on the run, or maybe just a tripping Earth-bound worker on holiday. In any case, a corporate fascist government is exploiting workers on Mars and something's got to be done about it.
Trade Secrets: Blue Collar Women Speak Out — Four women, an ironworker, welder, sprinkler fitter, and electrician reveal how their lives changed when they entered into the traditional male world of skilled crafts. 1985. 23 min.
Transnational Tradeswomen — A film by Vivian Price. 2006, 62 minutes, Color, VHS/DVD, Thai, Chinese, Tamil, Urdu, Japanese, Subtitled. Inspired by organizers at the Beijing Conference on Women in 1995, former construction worker Vivian Price spent years documenting the current and historical roles of women in the construction industry in Asia discovering several startling facts. Capturing footage that shatters any stereotypes of delicate, submissive Asian women, Price discovers that women in many parts of Asia have been doing construction labor for centuries. But conversations with these women show that development and the resulting mechanization are pushing them out of the industry. Their stories disturb the notion of progress that many people hold and show how globalization, modernization, education and technology don't always result in gender equality and the alleviation of poverty. Celebrating a range of women workers from a Japanese truck driver, to two young Pakistani women working on a construction site in Lahore, to a Taiwanese woman doing concrete work along side her husband this film deftly probes the connections in their experiences. In a segment exploring the history of the Samsui women in Singapore (Chinese women who were recruited as construction laborers in the 1920s until they lost their jobs to mechanization in the 1970s) unique archival footage and interviews with surviving Samsui offer an importation perspective on the historical and global scope of women workers' struggles.
The Trials of Juan Parra — Records presentation of the play and interviews of Parra, some actors and audience on the firing of Parra from Watsonville Canning & Frozen Food Company. c1985. 28 min.
The Triangle Shirt Factory Fire Scandal — LAB Real-life drama of the tragic sweatshop fire in 1911 New York that awakened public awareness, as seen through the eyes of four women that worked there. Starring Stephanie Zimbalist, David Dukes and Tovah Feldshuh. (98 min.)
Troubled Harvest — Examines the health and safety hazards which confront America's agricultural laborers. c1990. 30 min.
Tucker: The Man and His Dream — is the true story of Preston Tucker, a brilliant automobile designer of the 1940s who overcame extraordinary obstacles to realize a lifetime dream- the manufacture of his own "car of tomorrow, today." Instead of embracing the higher standards and innovative features advocated by Tucker, Detroit manufacturers forced him out of business. (111 min.) (-)
Turbulent Romance — We Do The Work, PBS. History of flight attendant's union.
Union Busting Confessional — (aprox.1hr.)
Union Maids — adaptation of the book entitled Rank and file by Alice Lynd. A documentary about three women in the Communnist Party who organized in the Back-of-the-Yards meatpacking district of Chicago in the 1930s. DSA's own Vickie Starr stars as "Stella Nowickie". A film by Julia Reichert, 1976. 48 min.
UNION MAN — Julius Margolin, at 89, is a living legend in the New York City labor movement. He's been active since the 1930s in the CIO, National Maritime Union and Local 52 of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, which he has represented in the Central Labor Council for 32 years. A tireless fighter for justice, equality, and against war, Julius embarked on a new career in 1999, making music and CDs with George Mann while still hitting picket lines and organizing workers in New York City and around the United States. "A Union Man" is the story of his life through his eyes as well as those he's met and worked with. A documentary film featuring guest appearances by Utah Phillips, Faith Petric and former NMU Vice President Joe Stack, as well as concert performances, this is an affectionate portrait of a rank-and-file activist still in the struggle for justice and worker's rights.
United Rairoad Employees Strike, 1917 — Shot in San Francisco in 1917, this brief newsreel presents marching bands leading disgruntled striking San Francisco laborers. 2 min.
Uno Veintecinco — 1962 documentary film by Harvey Richards. Shows the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), AFL-CIO, strike to get lettuce pickers in California $1.25 / hour. Reviews history of labor organizing in California's fields. A film by Harvey Richards. 1962. 20 min.
Up South: African-American Migration in the Era of the Great War — The migration of African-Americans to the North between 1916 and 1921. Recollections of the migrants through letters, oral histories, songs, photographs and art.
The Uprising of 1934 — In September 1934, over 250,000 textile employees walked out of southern textile mills in protest of low wages, poor working condition, and long hours. This bold maneuver shut down the region's dominant industry. Interviews with participants and archival footage chronicle the massive impact this event had on the people of the South and the reshaping of industrial America. The general textile strike was brutally suppressed by the mill owners. VHS, 93 m
Viva Zapata! — 1952, 114 min. John Steinbeck, writer; Elia Kazan, director; Marlon Brando, Anthony Quinn, actors. Steinbeck and Kazan tell the story of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, who fought land owners for peasant land rights. At the core of the film is the question of Zapata's leadership and his refusal to resort to dictatorship.
Voces del Campo (Voices of the Fields) — Follows farmworkers from California's Salinas Valley who have returned to their roots in the fields of rural Mexico, where they recount their everyday struggle on family farms to cope in the midst of the globalization of agriculture and the impact of NAFTA. 1995. 45 min. [Documentary]
Voices For Peace — (24min.)
Wage Slaves: Not Getting By in America — Looks at five people working in low-wage jobs in Nevada, Alabama, California, and Florida who are not earning enough to support themselves or their families. Compares the people living at the povety level in America with people in other countries and finds that poor Americans are in worse shape because of the cost of living. Based on the book Nickel and dimed / by Barbara Ehrenreich. Originally presented on the A&E television program Investigative Reports in 2002. 89 min.
Waging a Living — Filmed over a three-year period in the Northeast and in California, and a la Barbara Ehrenreich, it tracks four ethnically diverse, low-wage workers as they struggle to bridge the gap between paycheck and expenses. Produced and directed by Roger Weisberg. 2004. 85 min.
Review: Tales of the Poor, Working to Survive in America — By JEANNETTE CATSOULIS, New York Times June 22, 2005
Wall Street — The archetypal film of 80's corporate greed, graft and decadence.
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price — Looks at the effect Wal-Mart stores have on local businesses, their employees' economic status, the rights of women and minorities as Wal-Mart Associates, the lack of environmental responsibility by Wal-Mart starting with corporate headquarters on down, and the exploitation of Chinese and Bangladesh workers. Produced & directed by Robert Greenwald. Special features: Making of segments, film highlights, a call to action, and parodies of Wal-Mart commercials. 2005. 97 min.
THE WAR ON POVERTY: ROVING PICKETS — 16mm, 1995, Part of a historical series for PBS produced by Blackside, Inc.
Watsonville on Strike — Strike of Mexican American frozen food workers in Watsonville California, commencing September 1985 and lasting 18 months. English and Spanish. 1989. 65 min.
We Dig Coal, a Portrait of Three Women — Shows how, through courage, determination, and persistence, Mary Louise Carson, Bernice Domroski, and Marilyn McCusker won jobs in a man's world as coal miners in Pennsylvania. 1981. 58 min.
Westray — On May 9, 1992, the Westray mine in Pictou County, Nova Scotia exploded, instantly killing all 26 men working underground. This film focuses on the stories of three widows and three miners whose lives were torn apart when the methane and coal dust ignited deep underground. This is a film not only about Westray but about working people everwhere whose lives are often entrusted to companies that violate the most fundamental rules of safety and decency in the name of profit. Directed by Paul Cowan. c2001. 80 min.
West Side Story — Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins, directors; Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, Russ Tamblyn, actors. Gang conflict and forbidden love in the urban slums. Useful for depiction of various attempts at conflict resolution and group leadership. 1961, 150 min.
What happened to the idea of making a living wage in America? — (NOW with Bill Moyers, March 29, 2002). Alexandria, Va. : PBS Home Video, 2002.
When Children Do the Work. We Do the Work — Investigates inhumane child labor practices abroad as the source of products available in the U.S. and how human rights activists are working to end such abuses. (PBS series). 30 min.
Whose Children? — Raises basic questions about child labour in India's glass factories in Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh exploring social, economic, legal and moral aspects of the issue. 2003. 30 min. [Documentary]
With Babies and Banners: History of the Women's Emergency Brigade — Combines archival footage and interviews with participants to trace the role of women in the formation of the United Auto workers. Focuses on the contributions of the Women's Emergency Brigade to the labor movement of the 1930's. 1978. 45 min.
Where Do You Stand? Stories From an American Mill — A powerful California Newsreel video on contemporary deindustrialization in the South.
Who Built America?: From the Centennial Celebration of 1876 to the Great War of 1914. — (CD-ROM/Mac). This CD-ROM which explores the social history of working Americans primarily during the 19th century features extensive text from the 2 volume work Who Built America, Working People and the Nation's Economy by the American Social History Project. In addition to the text, archival film clips, recorded speeches of famous Americans, oral history memoirs, music of the period, autobiographies, fiction and poetry, press accounts, historical debates, interactive maps, graphs and timelines are also included and its all interactive for easy access to the material. c1994.
Who Killed Vincent Chin? — Recounts the murder of Vincent Chin, an automotive engineer mistaken as Japanese who was slain by an assembly line worker who blamed him for the competition by the Japanese auto makers that were threatening his job. It then recounts how that murderer escaped justice in the court system.
Who Wants Unions? — Explores violent union-busting, both past and recent. Looks at current management techniques to ward off unions by using psychologists, management consultants, and interactive workshops. Documenting the viewpoints of both labor and management, raises the question: Who wants unions? 1984 27 min. [Documentary]
The Willmar 8: A Film About Working Women — About the eight women who went on strike in Willmar, Minn., because of employment discrimination. How they formed their own independent union and that even though they lost, they found new strength. 1977. 55 min.
Will Work for Food — "Would you like to keep your cheeseburger... or option, for a steak dinner?"
The Wobblies — wonderful video about the IWW - great opening, but slows down a bit - many interviews with elderly IWW members. Uses union songs, posters, paintings, archival stills, and motion footage to trace the causes and effects of the one big industrial union that welcomeed unskilled, Black, and female workers into its ranks during the early part of this century. 1981. 89 min.
Women of Steel — story told in the words of four former female steelworkers about their work and life in the steel mills. (28 minutes, Mon Valley Media)
The Women of Summer — Emotionally riveting and inspirational story of a summer program for blue collar women that took place at Bryn Mawr College from 1921-1938. The story is told through the eyes of the alumnae fifty years later at a special reunion. The program forever changed their lives and inspired these women to become union, community and government leaders. 55 min.
Wonder of the World — Rhode Island Institute for Labor Studies and Research. 1996, 50 min. History of the Brown and Sharpe strike by the Machinists in North Kingstown, R.I., which began in 1981.
Workers Without a Voice: New Immigrants — Follows U.S. State Labor Dept. officials as they raid illegal sweatshops and investigates the question: Are undocumented workers really a threat to American jobs? 1991. 28 min.
Workers' World — Profiles the International Labour Organisation and its efforts to improve the conditions of working people around the world. 1991. 39 min.
Working — Based on the Studs Terkel book of the same name, an exploration of the individuals' occupations and a lament for lost hopes and dreams. 1982, 90 min.
The Working Class Goes to Heaven — See Lulu the Tool
Working Women of the World (Ouvrieres du monde) — Focusing on Levi Strauss & Co., this documentary follows the relocation of garment production from Western countries to nations such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Turkey where low wages are the rule and employee rights are nonexistent. A film by Marie France Collard, 2000. 53 min.
The Wrath of Grapes — Interviews with workers and farm owners on the use of pesticides on commercial grape orchards. Workers discuss the health problems involved in working in various pesticide environments. 1986.16 min.
THE YES MEN — If you've seen lost film fest on tour you've probably seen the Horribly Stupid Stunt Which Has resulted In His Untimely Death, a doc by THE YES MEN in which they hoax a legal conference by posing as the WTO. The fine folks behind American Movie (Dan Ollman, Sarah Price, & Chris Smith) put together a feature doc that will be out sometime in the fall. It's uproarious fun and full of pranks and culture jamming fun!
You Got To Move: Story of the Highlander Center — This one has some labor stuff in it and good info on an organizer's school. [documentary]
The Young Workers — Looks at the emergence of child labor in India within a historical, societal context. 1987. 68 min.
Zimbabwe Is New — Chimurenga, A work in progress (South Africa) 30 min. by Rehad Desai. This video tells the story of the land issue and the role of Zimbabwe1s trade unions in the bitter struggles now engulfing the country.
Zoned for Slavery: The Child Behind the Label — 23m, 1995 documentary. Zoned for Slavery examines the Free Trade Zones and Maquilas (sweatshops) in Honduras making products for companies like GAP, Osh Kosh, Gitano and Eddie Bauer. The film shows the systematic exploitation of workers; long hours, poverty wages, verbal and physical abuse, little to no benefits, and forced birth control and abortion. 1995. 23 min.
Babylon 5: Survivors & By Any Means Necessary. 1994.
In "By Any Means Necessary," the space station workers go on strike in defiance of an Earth law that forbids space station workers to strike.
Now — PBS series, episode on the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and many others.
Dirty Jobs — New program on the Discovery channel appears to celebrate working class jobs in America.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Episode 88: The Bar Association - The Ferengi are a hyper-capitalist race of space humanoids. Ferengi workers are ruthlessly exploited, yet they do not wish to end the exploitation, they seek to become the exploiters. In spite of cultural outrage, Rom organizes a union on the space station when his brother Quark refuses to bargain, and a strike cripples the station's most popular bar. The ruthless Ferengi Commerce Association intervenes, threatening the strikers, but most of the strikers stand firm. The FCA decides to make an example of Quark, having their thugs beat him as a warning to his brother. Rom is not intimidated, and Quark quietly agrees to all union demands, but refuses to recognize the union. 1996, 60 min.
The Sun Makers — episode of the PBS series "Doctor Who," in four parts. This satire on the British tax system takes place in the city of Megropolis One on Pluto where there is a warm sun (one of six), oxygen, and a thriving factory community. The people are not happy because the Company that controls the planet works them to the bone, pays them a pittance and then taxes them on everything imaginable.
Dr. Zhivago — A must see film about the Russian revolution, as experienced by the upper class. This film is very class-aware. Portrayal of Bolsheviks is over the top, and everything "happens to" the bourgeois protagonist. Watch for a favorite cameo scene on the train - Klaus Kinski as a shackled, "volunteer" anarchist laborer.
Alamo Bay — Nice portraits of working class Texas fishermen and Vietnamese immigrants, filled with tension and complexity, all go awry with a violent Hollywood climax.
Working Girl — (1988) Just because someone will "do anything to climb the corporate ladder," that doesn't qualify them as an inspiration. Fun movie about a working class girl misses the boat on working class sensibility.
NON-VIDEO CATEGORY — working class games
Red Faction, a working class sci-fi video game about a miner's revolt on Mars. Others? I'll start a new list.
NON-VIDEO CATEGORY — web media
Poverty USA —
University of the Poor — Media College
OTHER LISTS — Lists of movies with working class or labor themes
Gentrification and Renters Videos
Videos in American labor history
Labor Themes in the Movies and on TV
Some more reviews
Downloadable Video and Movie Archives
Search for "working class" at archive.org
Appalachian Mountain Videos
BOOKS — Lists, reviews, articles about movies with working class or labor themes
Reel To Real: Race, Sex, and Class at the Movies — Bell Hooks. Hooks's essays on film are not film criticism: they are criticism of culture as viewed through the prism of film. This mix of theory, reality, popular art and popular criticism (reviews and public reaction play a large part in her discussions) is effective in forcing a rethinking of the films in question... A discussion of the black female gaze recalls that slaves could be punished for looking, and another on representations of black masculinity notes that in movies with two male leads, one black and one white, such as Rising Sun, the white man plays the "father" role.
Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff: An Expanded Guide to Films About Labor (check it out here, buy from a union-friendly book store...)
Working Class Unions —
Industrial Workers of the World
See also: working class literature
These videos are "working class" videos. They may be pro-union, or simply pro-worker. They may be anti-fascist. Some of them have a leftist flavor, or an anti-war flavor.
One reader makes a distinction between "working class" videos and "labor" videos. I agree that this is an important consideration. I can even imagine a video that would be pro-"labor" and anti-working class, given the nature of many unions. But while such distinctions may be reflected in the reviews, i do not intend to create separate categories. This is not for lack of appreciation, it is simply due to lack of time or familiarity with the content.
I have not seen all of these (or even most of these) movies and documentaries, their presence here in most cases is the result of recommendations.
I've decided to add a method of voting against movies that appear here. Each (-) means that someone thought the movie was innappropriate for this list. Additional votes against movies may get them removed from the list.
Send me email (below) for additions or comments on existing entries, or to write a brief review.
Another great movies list:
HISTORICAL MOVIES IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
Working Class Movies
About the Industrial Workers of the World | I.W.W. Posters | I.W.W. Prose | I.W.W. Poetry
About the Anti-Globalization Movement | Anti-Glob Posters | Anti-Glob Prose | Anti-Glob Poetry
About the Anti-war Movement | Anti-war Posters | Anti-war Prose | Anti-war Poetry
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