Directed by Barbara Kopple
Since FDR implemented the New Deal, it has been eroded year after year by the power of increasingly ruthless corporate profiteering and competition. Labor Unions have been under attack, largely by Republican administrations and policies, and the attitude of big business is less and less caring and humanitarian. In the face of job loss or massive wage cuts, one union fought back. But between such unequal bargaining partners, the union workers’ only power was in their willingness to stand together and persevere.
This film follows one incident where a union group fought back against unfair treatment – and ultimately lost the battle. But the struggle goes on to have a life where hard work is fairly rewarded and families can keep up with the rising cost of living – let alone get ahead and prosper.
Barbara Kopple has somehow managed to capture an intimate portrait of the people involved in this incident. Her film takes us into the meetings, the conversations, and the interviews of the characters involved. We get an understanding of the dynamics and strategies, the positions and attitudes of both sides and the personal conflicts and pressures that face
workers who seek to take a stand against employer give backs and job cuts.
It is not a pretty picture or one with a rosy ending. Hopes and dreams get crushed; desperation, despair, and disunity challenge the union workers despite their efforts to stand together.
Without commentary, the film simply observes and records the history.
Academy Awards: Oscar; Best Documentary
International Documentary Association: IDA Award
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards: LAFCA Award; Best Documentary
Sundance Film Festival: Audience Award Documentary; Filmmakers Trophy Documentary; Grand Jury Prize Documentary