Labor History Links




Sentner story

Struggle in the Heartland


From Mouseland


My Film List, which is organized in rough order of historical chronological time frame

  • A midwife's tale see website by the same name on chronological page for more information
  • Daughters of Free Men  Lowell mills
  • Doing As they Can from American Social History Project, slavery
  • 1877: The Grand Army of Starvation 1877 railroad strike and inequality in late 19th century
  • America at Work, America at Leisure 150 films accessed from the Library of Congress collections, digitized, 1890s-1915
  • Andrew Carnegie: The Richest Man in America –excerpts on labor are ok
  • The River Ran Red (you can also get a high-school curriculum package with this) Homestead Strike of 1892 quicktime clip from this film
  • The Masses and the Millionaires: The Homestead Strike (2008)
    • "A startlingly realistic program re-creates the bloody strike at the Carnegie Steel Company in 1892 through the experiences of an Irish labor organizer and a Slav coal heaver. From the stark portrayals of the workers' living and working conditions to their final dramatic stand against overwhelming odds at Andrew Carnegie's Homestead plant, the film relates a chapter in the history of organized labor."
  • Palace Cars and Paradise Pullman - 30 minutes
  • Clockwork (scientific management)
  • The Organizer (Italian, but good for how solidarity is achieved)
  • Bullet Bargaining at Ludlow ( Ludlow massacre) short
  • Howard Zinn on the Ludlow Massacre (excerpt from You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train)
  • Matewan (W. Virginia Mine Wars, 1920) John Sayles – good when paired with Stephen Norwood’s book , Strikebreaking and Intimidation
  • The Wobblies –documentary from 970s, interviews and classic footage; available on DVD now for low cost
  • Even the Heavens Wept.  PBS account of the massive coal miners strike in West Virginia after WWI
  • Mine Wars (2004) on Matewan and its larger context, available for $17 from Bill Richardson, 29 Skyview Drive, Apt. #1 , Belfry , KY 41514 ; e-mail
  • Northern Lights (farm-labor organizing, Minnesota )
  • Los Mineros (Mexican-American Copper Miners)
  • The Killing Floor (packinghouses, Chicago, black migration, race riot); great film, but remarkably, there are no women depicted in tthis film
  • The Struggle for an American Way of Life Coal Miners and Operators in Central Pennsylvania, 1919-1933 see program guide
  • Modern Times Charlie Chaplin—life in the assembly line, good for use on Taylorism
  • A Job at Ford' s-from the Great Depression series by Blackside Production; one of my favorites. Moving depictions of assembly line work and unemployed movement; connects Ford to fascism
  • Mean Things Happening  Another in the Great Depression Series by Blackside, shows lack of success in organizing black sharecroppers vs. success in Northern Steel; memorial day Massacre. One of my favorites
  • 12 minute documentary by Ron Magden on the 1934 Seattle Strike of Longshoremen
  • Waterfront Workers Project films: oral histories and film footage from 1934 strike
  • [San Francisco Longshore Strike 1934] (Part I) - Part 2
    Longshoremen close down the Port of San Francisco in the spring of 1934.
  • Labor's Turning Point.  Documentary on the dramatic 1934 Teamsters strike in Minneapolis.  Thousands of truckers and vigilantes battle for control of the streets.
  • Union Maids (1930s, Chicago, focuses on 3 women in different industries)
  • The Uprising of  1934 textile workers strike, a powerful moving film using oral histories; one of the best for introducing students to the role of memory and power
  • 1934 Minneapolis strike: video from You Tube ; another selection and more:
  • The Great Sit Down
  • With Babies and Banners (Flint, Michigan 1937 sit-down strike, role of women); one of my favorite scenes are the grandmothers who talk about having hidden blackjacks…
  • Bridging San Francisco Bay -1937 Incredible footage
  • Our Land Too!: The STFU (Southern Tenant Farmers Union )
  • Oh! Freedom After While Sharecroppers, sit-down 1939 Missouri
  • Seeing Red (labor and the red scare); discussions of role in labor
  • The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (women in World War II)
  • Supervising Women Workers (1944) Management addresses the special problems of women workers with concern and a heavy dose of sexism
  • How to Explain Safety Rules to Women Workers in 1944
  • Deadline for Action Part 1 & Part 2 This is terrific for showing the postwar mass strikes. Great for current issues, and what it meant to have radicals in the labor movement: an interpretation of global domination by US corporations
  • The Great Swindle Harassed by shortages, Tom Grey votes for the removal of price control after reading propaganda issued by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). When prices rise, he views a Union film, "The Big Squeeze," which places the blame for high prices on monopoly control of our economy, and points out the advantages of membership in the Union.
  • Seed for Tomorrow Farmers Union suggesting need for cooperations; Weavers sing folk songs
  • H2 worker farmworkers, seasonally on contract in the US since 1943
  • Bracero Stories (2008) follows 5 workers lives under the program 1942-1964
  • Salesmen (1968). Bible salesmen! A classic.. This is one of the best to use clips regarding gender roles, worker alienation , 1950s
  • Salt of the Earth (suppressed 1950s film about strike in Mine-Mill; Mexican-American workers, community basis to strikes, proto-feminist themes!) nice when paired with Jim Lorence’s book on Suppression of Salt of the Earth
  • Trade Secrets depicts the international corporate conspiracy to deny right to know about chemical dangers to workers; moving depiction of the suffering that came as a consequence; 1950s-present
  • Norma Rae.  organizing a Southern textile mill in the 1960s , based on true story of organizing J.P. Stevens
  • At the River I Stand Labor and Civil Rights (Memphis, TN garbage strike of 1968 and Martin Luther King)
  •  "Sir, No Sir!"  documentary (GI resisters)
  • Coalmining Women 1970s and affirmative action
  • Women of Steel (women steelworkers)
  • Harlan County USA .  The use of corporate power and violence to intimidate coal miners' strike in the 1970s
  • Struggles in Steel  black steelworkers in Pittsburgh , Baltimore and Alabama from the 19th -20th century; focuses on 1960s-70s struggle for equity, and then disinvestment facilitator guide
  • The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chaves and the Farmworkers' Movement good for showing a different slice of the 1960s and 1970s , though this is pure hagiography
  • The Global Assembly Line
  • Silkwoodpretty good Hollywood depiction of Karen Silkwood as working class woman and attempt to expose workplace dangers in plutonium processing plant
  • Controlling Interest (1970s “globalization”-corporate assault); one of my favorites, for a quote from a banker who says they look for dictatorships for stable investments; connects globalization to domestic labor issues, features for instance a UE shutdown and US foreign policy repression in Brazil.
  • Trade Secrets -- plastics manufacturing and the great cover-up of worker exposures to deadly carcinogens
  • Business of America steel shutdowns, 1980s
  • Shout Youngstown (campaign against shutdowns) one of my favorites -movie is on-line now!!!
  • Breaking Away (1979)-one of my favorite movies, the best that Hollywood has to offer about class sentiments in the 1970s; set in Bloomington Indiana, working class kids and college students as protagonists
  • Mouseland.  Labor politics, in Canada, but very applicable to U.S. issues – 10 minutes
  • Company Town,  Struggling Unions
  • Willmar 8 "story of eight unassuming, apolitical women in America's heartland--Willmar, Minnesota--who were driven by sex discrimination at work to take the most unexpected step of their lives and found themselves in the forefront of the struggle for women's rights."
  • Roger and Me (Michael Moore, GM, downsizing and its affect on communities)
  • American Dream (Academy award winner about Hormel strike of mid 1980s; unfortunate depiction of that strike, but one that can nicely be paired with Peter Rachleff’s, Hard Pressed in the Heartland
  • Poverty Outlaw  --very moving, Kensington Welfare Rights Organization organizing, poor women organizing for rights and the systems response
  • Deadly Corn (1994) – Staley workers, Decatur Illinois their struggles against unsafe working conditions and 12 hour days; eye opening regarding the lack of safety in modern US plants
  • Struggle in the Heartland (Staley workers lockout of 1994-96)
  • Life and Debt (2001) Effects of the IMF on Jamaica —compelling story of the way that capitalist imperatives make for  destructive results; with a hopeful note!
  • Bread and Roses Ken Loach—modern day service sector , Latino workers in Los Angeles
  • Brassed Off – British, but a great film about politics and its affect on labor, and affect on community of downsizing
  • Battle in Seattle
  • The Corporation  terrific expose, segments on relationship to labor
  •   Class Dismissed: How TV Frames the Working Class 2005
    great for showing the way TV distorts working class life
  • Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price (film)
  • Made in L.A. immigrant women's participation in a three-year strike and boycott against the apparel retailer Forever 21.
  • Golden Land, Working Hands -10 part series on California labor
  • Brass Valley
  • Miiles of Smiles, Years of Struggle (black Pullman porters, covers 100 years)
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Anne Feeney


Workers Music and Labor Movement Songs


  • Forgotten Show -- opera based on the life of William Bradford Reynolds-- tells story of organizing Ford motor company in the 1930s-
  • Musical projects from the Wisconsin Labor History Society


  • Homestead Town (Pennsylvania)- loving video tribute by Mike Stout to the steel city and working class life

more to be posted!!!

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Storming Heaven


List of Some Working Class Fiction

  • Bell, Thomas.  Out of This Furnace:  A Novel of Immigrant Labor in America. 1941, reprint 1976
  • Denby, Charles.  Indignant Heart. 1978  --radicalization of black auto worker
  • J Anthony Lukas, Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small town Sets off a Struggle for the Soul of America (1899 Couer d’Alene-Haywood, etc)
  • Pietro Di Donato, Christ in Concrete (1939) and recent reprint
  • Duenise Giardiana, Storming Heaven
  • Denise Giardiana, The Unquiet Earth
  • William Attaway, Blood on the Forge (1941; reprint, 1987)
  • Thomas Bell, Out of This Furnace (1941; reprint, 1976)
  • Ruth McKenney, Industrial Valley (reprint, 1993)
  • John Steinbeck, In Dubious Battle
  • John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
  • Jack London, Martin Eden (1909)
  • Richard Wright, Black Boy (1945)
  • John Sanford, The People From Heaven (1943)
  • Harriet Arnow, The Dollmaker (1954, reprint 1990)
  • Upton Sinclair, The Flivver King (1937, reprint 1993)
  • Ben Hamper, Rivethead (working in modern auto factory)
  • Toni Morrison, Tar Baby
  • Valerie Miner, A Walking Fire (1994)
  • Agnes Smedley, Daughter of Earth (1943)
  • Anzia Yezierska, Bread Givers (1925)
  • Anzia Yezierska Salome of the Tenements (reprint, 1995)
  • Jane Maguire On Shares: Ed Brown’s Story HD1478.U6   B761975
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clenched fist image

A history of the clenched fist

Tuesday Othelia

Tuesday-Othelia. From "The Life of the People" on-line exhibit


Joe Hill

"Joe Hill" by Carlos Cortex

cushing agitate



Posters/Banners/street & community art



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SF 1934

Painting by Mike Conner "The Battle at Pier 38 July 3, 1934"

Alewitz worker in the new world order

Mike Alewitz, Worker in the New World Order, 1995

Labor media/Labor in the media

Labor TV shows

Labor Beat, including history shows (Chicago, Illinois)

Labor at the Crossroads (New York)

Labor Radio Shows

Workers Independent News
Heartland Labor Radio (Kansas City)


Labor Film/Culture Festivals

San Francisco Labor Fest -

"LaborFest was established in 1994 to institutionalize the history and culture of working people in an annual labor cultural, film and arts festival. It begins every July 5th, which is the anniversary of the 1934 “Bloody Thursday” event. On that day, two workers Howard Sperry and Nick Bordoise were shot and killed in San Francisco. They were supporting the longshoremen and maritime workers strike. This incident brought about the San Francisco General Strike which shut down the entire city and led to hundreds of thousands of workers joining the trade union movement."

D.C. Labor Film Festival which has a searchable database
of labor film festivals from around the world.

Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festival


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