Labor Day, the first Monday in September, was designated to celebrate the achievements of organized labor unions in protecting workers’ rights.Labor Day is about more than just BBQs and the last summer holiday. Here are labor union movies to watch for Labor Day. When labor wins a victory it helps everyone. We have organized labor unions to thank for better healthcare benefits, unemployment benefits, safer working conditions, womens’ right, racial unity, overtime pay, paid holidays and sick days, child labor laws and many other benefits that workers now take for granted. Watch these movies to understand more about how labors unions have impacted our lives.
Matewan: (1987-James Earl Jones, Chris Cooper, Mary McDonnell, Kevin Tighe) Beautifully portrayed story of a group of coal miners in rural 1930s Matewan West Virginia and their strike against coal company’s unfair, unsafe, unhealthy and discriminatory labor practices. The music is haunting and lovely. Chris Cooper’s character of Joe Kenehan is loosed based on Joe Hill.
Reds (1981-Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson) Chronicles an American journalist’s involvement in the Communist Revolution in Russia. Explores the progressive movement in literature, politics, art and education. Nice expose on the fight for equal rights for women.
F.I.S.T (1978-Sylvester Stallone, Kevin Conway, Rod Steiger, Peter Boyle) Loosely based on the Teamster Union and Jimmy Hoffa.
Norma Rae (1979, Sally Field, Beau Bridges) Story of one woman’s fight to bring better working conditions to the factory where she is employed. Important look at womens’ right issues, also.
North Country (2005-Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek) Retells the story of the first successful court case against sexual harassment against women miners.
Newsies (1992-Christian Bale, Bill Pullman, Robert Duvall) While this is a musical for kids, it’s an interesting look at the newsboys strike against media barons Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst.
Hoffa: (1992-Jack Nicholson, Danny Devito) Story of James R. ‘Jimmy’ Hoffa, legendary founder and leader of the Teamsters labor union. Covers the radical leader’s rise to power and disappearance in 1975.
The Molly Maquires (1970-Sean Connery, Richard Harris) The ‘Molly Maguires’ were a group of Irish miners who rebelled against injustices in the mines of Pennsylvania in 1876.
The Grapes of Wrath (1940-Henry Fonda, John Carradine) An ex-convict returns to find his family turned out the home in the depression era dust bowl Oklahoma. He befriends a former preacher turned communist and heads the family to California, following crop pickers. Based on progressive author John Steinbeck’s epic novel
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