Five Inspiring Labor Movies

This has been a great year for labor as our union brothers and sisters have risen up nationwide to score victory after victory. To celebrate our success, check out our list of inspiring labor movies. 5) Pajama Game (1957): Workers at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory want a pay raise of 7 ½ Cents an hour, pitting union rep Babe Williams (played by Doris Day) against factory superintendant Sid Sorokin (John Raitt). They fight, fall in love, and fight some more as Sid is slowly won over to the union’s side. Features the showstopping number “Steam Heat,” performed at a union hall.

4) The Organizer (1963): Marcello Mastrianni plays Professor Sinigaglia, a labor activist on the run from the police who organizes a strike in a textile factory in Turin, Italy. In the scene below, Mastrianni urges the weary strikers to continue the fight. 

3) Harlan County, USA (1976): This powerful Academy Award-winning documentary tells the story of the 1973 “Brookside Strike,” when 180 coal miners went up against Duke Power Company in southeast Kentucky.

2) Norma Rae (1979): Sally Field won an Oscar for her portrayal of Norma Rae Webster, a worker at a North Carolina textile mill who becomes an activist after meeting a New York organizer played by Ron Leibman. Famous for the iconic scene below.

1)Bread and Roses (2000): Tells the story of the SEIU Justice for Janitors campaign, which launched in 1985 in response to drastic cuts in wages and benefits for janitorial workers in Los Angeles–many saw their pay drop by 35 percent while also losing health insurance and other benefits. The campaign continues today with more than 225,000 members across the U.S. and Canada continuing to fight for better wages, better working conditions, benefits and full time work.


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