The Grapes of Wrath (1940) – John Ford’s portrayal of John Steinbeck’s novel; the film depicts a family’s struggle having lost their Kentucky farm during the 1930’s Great Depression. They are forced to become migrant workers whose harrowing journey takes them to California in search of work and opportunities .
How Green Was My Valley (1941) – John Ford’s portrayal of “a close, hard-working Welsh mining family living in the heart of the South Wales Valleys in the 19th century. The story chronicles the destruction of the environment i…and the loss of a way of life and its effects on the family.”
The Devil & Misses Jones (1941) – Sam Woods directs this story of a tycoon who goes undercover at his NY department store to unearth labor agitators trying to form a union and who unexpectedly becomes sympathetic to the cause.
Salt of the Earth (1954) – Latino mining workers and their families in New Mexico struggle for respect and basic human rights, including women’s rights.
On the Waterfront (1954) – Elia Kazan directs this “ American crime drama about union violence and corruption among longshoremen.”
The Organizer (1963) – Mario Monicelli’s drama about “a group of factory workers in Turin who go on strike.”
Harlan County, USA (1976) – Barbara Kopples’ account of the coal miners’ fight with the Eastover Mining/Duke Power Company as they struggle to join the United Miners Workers Union
Norma Rae (1979) – Sally Fields plays a minimum wage worker at a Cotton Mill as workers struggle for recognition in this iconic pro union film.
Northern Lights (1978) – Rob Nilson, tells of the struggles of North Dakota farmers in 1915 organizing to resist the effects of bank foreclosures.
El Norte (1983) – Gregory Nava’s depiction of Guatemalan indigenous brother and sister who flee political persecution during the country’s civil war in the early 180s and make the treacherous migration through Mexico to the US ; it chronicles the trials and tribulations they face as undocumented immigrants in the work place and their resilient spirit..
Silkwood ( 1983) – Mike Nihols’ drama with a “screenplay by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen which was inspired by the life of Karen Silkwood, a labor union activist who died in a suspicious car accident while investigating alleged wrongdoing at the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant where she worked.”
Matewon (1987) – John Sayles – 1920’s struggle of Coal Mining Workers vs. the Coal Mountain Coal Company in West Virginia
Hoffa (1992) – Danny DeVito directs Jack Nicholson in this biographical film portraying International Brotherhood of Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa. Hoffa is depicted as a political strategist and power broker, his links to the mob, and his mysterious death/disappearance. The film depicts the power struggles within the Teamsters and strong arm tactics to win by any means necessary. Though very critical of the Union, the film has been very influential in defining the perception of the labor movement as a whole in the popular imagination. “Hoffa” has become a shorthand way to portray unions as corrupt, violent, undemocratic entities by anti-union forces.
Newsiest (1992) – Disney musical production memorializing the newspaper boy strike in NY City in 1899.
Brassed Off (1996) – British film that chronicles the troubles faced by a colliery brass band following the closure of their coal pit. Well received in mining communities for its portrayal of their suffering during the decline of the coal mining industry which coincided with the conservative govn’ts of Thatcher and Major.
The Cradle Will Rock (1999) – Tim Robbins – Based on a true story of politics and art in the 1930s USA, this film tells the story of a group of theatre workers, their progressive musical drama and their creative response to reactionary attempts to stop its production. Originally produced in 1936 as a musical.
Billy Elliot ( 2000) – British drama film Set in north-eastern England during the 1984-1985 coal miners’ strike. Jamie Bell, an 11 year old aspiring dancer faces negative stereotypes while his coal mining father struggles to support the family.
Iron Jawed Angels (2004) – Katja von Garnier – American women’s suffrage movement during the 1910s. Starring Hillary Swank, Frances O’Connor, Julia Ormond, & Angelica Huston, “the film follows political activists Alice Paula and Lucy Burns as they use peaceful and effective strategies, tactics, and dialogues to revolutionize the American feminist movement to grant women the right to vote. “
North Country (2005) – Niki Caro – inspired by the 2002 book Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case That Changed Sexual Harassment Law by Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy Gansler, which chronicled the case of Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Company
Made in Dagenham (2010) – Nigel Cole’s drama about the Ford Sewing Machinists strike of 1968 that sought equal pay for women.
Chavez (2014) – Diego Luna’s upcoming film about the life of Cesar Chavez and the UFW
Fighting for Our Lives (1975) – Documentary on the UFW’s 1973 fight for recognition from Cochello – Delano. Features Luiz Valdez as narrator, actual footage from the struggle, and our very own Tom Dalzell as a young attorney with the Farm Workers. Depicts the power of organization, and religious, political and community support in the face of fierce anti-union attacks by growers and their allies the Teamsters.
A Philip Randolph For Jobs & Freedom (1996) – Documentary on A Philip Randolph, the African-American labor leader who founded the first national black union – The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and fought the 12 year fight for the first contract. Led efforts to ban segregation in the federal govn’t and defense industry and the desegregation of the military. Stressed civil rights needed to be linked to economic rights. Built the coalition that called for the 1963 March on WA – the prelude to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The Democratic Promise: The Legacy of Saul Alinsky –
//www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WEeVGSz-qo (Part I);
//www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l28pS59aRs (part 2)
//www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmcz53VCOKk (Part 3)
//www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtariEC7hIo (Part 4)
One Day Longer: The Story of the Frontier Strike (1999) – “When the owners of the Frontier Hotel and Casino took away critical benefits, including vacation, health care, pension contributions, and seniority, its 500 workers walked out. In the longest strike in U.S. history, lasting six years, two months, and ten days, the picket line stayed up in a remarkable show of defiance depicted in the film One Day Longer: The Story of the Frontier Strike. Workers agreed that their union loyalty was being tested by a plan to bust the unions in Las Vegas, and their show of support gave unionism a much needed boost after a period of little activity. ~ Alice Day, Rovi
A Force More Powerful (2000) – A history of non violent movements for social change, from India to the US, Poland, South Africa and Chile.
Capitalism, A Love Story (2009) Michael Moore’s “examination of the costs of corporate interests pursuing profits at the expense of the public good. “
Soundtrack of a Revolution (2009) – The Civil Rights Movement – from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the Inauguration of Barak Obama – and the songs that the people sang then and now.
Immigrant Nation: Battle for the Dream (2010) – Esaíƒº Melíƒ©ndez’s documentary about the immigrant rights movement from 2006-2009.
We Are Wisconsin (2012)– Amie Williams //www.youtube.com/watch?v=uP0jM4P5bmg Feature documentary on 26 days of popular demonstrations against Governor Walker’s anti-union bill.
As Goes Janesville (2012) Brad Lichenstein documentary re: WI workers post Walker Legislation
Citizen Koch (2013) A documentary exposing the role of the billionaire Koch brothers, Citizen United, in financing anti-union and other right wing legislative initiatives and campaigns.
Inequality for All (2013 ) – Robert Reich critique of growing economic and social inequality .
Robert Reich on 4 Truths About Raising the Minimum Wage, 2.5 minutes:
What Have Unions Ever Done For Us? (Australian video, 2 minutes:
What Have Unions Ever Done for Us? (American video, 3 minutes):