LABOUR UNIONS AND WORKER MOVEMENTS:

A FILM GUIDE

 

 

Chantelle Follack

Marc Hebert

Hanna Latkowski

Chris Nelson

John Zryd

 

Hello, and welcome to our mini-directory of movie listings. We call it a mini-directory because all of the films listed deal with worker movements and labour unions. This listing of films is intended to give any interested parties the ability, and resources to read about and make informed decisions about a film that they may want to view. There is a wide range of films listed below. Some are Hollywood classics, others are documentaries, and others are instructional. No matter what you are looking for, this listing has most of the films available in the Calgary region. We have categorized all of the films so you are able to find and choose the ones that interest you. We have included the subject, length, availability, year, a short description, and some reviews on the films to help you. So, don't forget the popcorn and Enjoy!

 

FEATURE FILMS

 

* History of Unions

* Unionization and Trade Unions

* Union Corruption

 

DOCUMENTARIES & INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIAL

 

* Women and Unions

* Instructional & Informational Videos

* Documentaries

 

 

We have used the Following rating system.

 

* Very bad film, do not waste your time

** Not very good, has some relevant information

*** Good film, informative and somewhat interesting

**** Very good film, informative and very interesting

***** Excellent film, informative, interesting and entertaining

 

 

FEATURE FILMS

 

HISTORY OF UNIONS

 

Title: Molly Maguires

Subject: Pre-union worker organizations, coal mining

Length: 123 minutes

Availability: Blockbuster, Rogers ($3.00-$4.00)

Medium: VHS, colour.

Year: 1970

Rating: PG.

Type: Drama

Description:

The true story of a secret society of Pennsylvania coal miners, circa 1876, that used violence, intimidation and even murder to protect the worker from the abuse of the employers before the establishment of unions. The main focus of the movie is the penetration of the Mollies by a Pinkerton man who has been hired by the mine owners to bring about the secret societyís downfall. The Pinkerton, portraying himself as a murderer, gains the confidence of the group. As plans are made to dynamite a mine, the mole turns the Mollies in. Private police raids are carried out, resulting in the death of many group leaders, and at the trial the Pinkertonís testimony condemns many more to execution.

Review:

This film is biased heavily towards the side of the company, presenting the Mollies as unfeeling, savage murderers who are not worth any empathy. Their awful plight of no job security and awful working/living conditions is almost wholly overlooked. The era is faithfully reproduced but the shots are often dark and dwelling.

Rating: *** (C.N.)

The film did not do a good job in informing the audience about the history of the Molly McGuires. ĎHollywoodismí crept into the film many times.

Rating: ** (J.Z.)

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Title: Germinal

Subject: Pre-union industrial France

Length: 158 minutes

Availability: Blockbuster, Rogers ($3.00-$4.00)

Medium: VHS

Year: 1994

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Foreign Drama

Description:

This foreign film, complete with subtitles, was an excellent representation of the historical struggles of pre-union industrial France. The story line revolves around the lives of a family trying to survive in an industrialized era. It depicts the harshness of the lives of the people who worked in the coal mines and their efforts to get through this time.

Review:

This movie was very well done and quite informative. It was easy to follow, the content was interesting and full of information. The movie gives the viewer an idea of what a working personís life was like in that time, while providing information on how unions were perceived by all people of that time.

Rating: **** (C.F.)

This film was very good. It was graphic in showing the old 1880ís mining techniques and the life that miners had.

Rating: ***** (J.Z.)

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Title: Matewan

Subject: Early unionization strife, pre-union movements

Length: 136 minutes

Availability: Blockbuster, Rogers Video ($3.00-$4.00)

Medium: VHS, colour.

Year: 1987

Rating: PG.-13

Type: Drama

Description:

This movie is historically based on the turn of the century struggles of the Matewan, West Virginia coal mining community. In Matewan the coal company is king, owning not only the workersí livelihood, but also their house leases and the store where they must shop. A walkout of the coal miners attracts a professional labour organizer from the United Mine Workers to the area. A miners coalition is formed throughout the region in an effort to force the company to submit to worker demands. This arouses the ire of the mine owners who hire professional strike breakers. A series of dirty tactics push the workers towards violence which culminates in the climatic Massacre of Matewan.

Review:

Darkly filmed and hard to follow at times, none the less Matewan is an insightful film. It brings into sharp focus the vastly different conditions that existed in labour relations at that period. The extreme means to which both the company goes to break the strike and that were acceptable to the upper levels of government is unbelievable. The interweaving of racial and religious concerns highlight the radical philosophy shift that was taking place during this era. Beautiful cinematography and climatic plot twists will keep you watching until the end.

Rating: **** (C.N.)

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Title: Iím All Right Jack

Subject: England 1800ís

Length: 100 minutes

Availability: Casablanca ($3.00-$4.00)

Medium: VHS

Year: 1958

Rating: PG.

Type: Comedy

Description:

Comedy about the worker movement in England in the 1930ís. It shows a sort of slapstick style of comedy within the realms of worker movement.

Review:

This film might have been funny when it was released but itís not now. I may have cracked a smile once or twice but it definitely did not have me rolling in the aisles. It certainly does shed some light on the history of the Industrial Revolution, but not worth the time.

Rating: *1/2 (M.H.)

This film was a waste of time. It did not have much to do with labour unions and its attempts at humor were disappointing. I certainly do not recommend it.

Rating: * (H.L.)

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Title: The Grapes of Wrath

Subject: American Farmers

Length: 128 minutes

Availability: Casablanca, Blockbuster, Rogers ($3.00-$4.00)

Medium: VHS, black and white

Year: 1939

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Drama

Description:

This film deals with the Oklahoma dust bowl farmers in the 1930ís and their migration to California. There, they are harassed be the locals and form unions to fight for their rights. They eventually strike for decent fruit picking wages.

Review:

This film won an academy award in 1939 and itís no wonder why. The film is very moving and a pleasure to watch. My only complaint is that it is just a story, and does not openly address the labour movement issues. Although, this point is easily overlooked when one sees the brilliance of the overall package.

Rating: **** (M.H.)

This is a great film to watch. However, it does not address the issues of unions or labour movements. I highly recommend it for entertainment purposes, but not as an informational tool.

Rating: **** (H.L.)

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UNIONIZATION AND TRADE UNIONS

 

Title: Norma Rae Subject: Unionization of textile industry Length: 117 minutes Availability: Blockbuster, Rogers Video ($3.00-$4.00) Medium: VHS, colour. Year: 1979 Rating: PG.

Type: Drama Description:

This movie revolves around the unionization of a single textile factory. It takes place in small town southern United States during the early 1970ís. A New York labour organizer comes to town and tries to bring workers on board in an effort to bring about an unionizing vote. The only worker that initially joins the movement is Norma Rae, a divorced mother of two who lives with her parents, who also work at the factory. The movie follows Norma Rae through the process of unionization. This includes the work she does for the labour organization and the resulting conflicts it brings to her life with various parties, including her family, the factory management and other town members.

Review:

Seems to accurately portray the time and region. A very easy to watch film that becomes quite engrossing. Numerous aspects of the unionization are touched upon, from more of a personal common man approach which makes the movie easy to understand. It is general enough to give a broad overview yet still manages to make concrete observations.

Rating: **** (C.N.)

It is a good film showing real life situations for a plant unionization in a small town. I found it to be very entertaining.

Rating: **** (J.Z.)

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Title: Silkwood

Subject: Unfair labour practices and Union indifference

Length: 131 minutes

Availability: Blockbuster, Rogers ($3.00-$4.00)

Medium: VHS, colour

Year: 1983

Rating: R

Type: Drama

 

Description:

A major employer is an Oklahoma town is a company that manufactures nuclear products. The company is operating on a shoestring budget and has numerous health risks in its everyday operation. The complaints about unsafe practices and other violations of the union contract are generally ignored by the company and the national union itself. It is not until a cover-up of flawed plutonium rods is discovered by Karen Silkwood that the union becomes interested. Silkwood is used as a mole to find proof of the allegations and subsequently is poisoned with radiation. On Nov. 13 1974 she is found dead in a mysterious car crash that happened on her way to present proof about her allegations to a news reporter.

Review:

Based on a true story that took place in the US it is a frightening look at the length companies will go to make a dollar. Perhaps even more frightening is the fact that the union only became interested when the situation had the potential to become a national incident. A realistic presentation of how the average worker views big business, this movie is a powerful statement about the position workers can be placed in, even in the present days of unionization.

Rating: **** (C.N.)

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Title: Gung-ho Subject: Foreign ownership and worker dissatisfaction. Length: 115 minutes Availability: Blockbuster, Rogers ($3.00-$4.00) Medium: VHS, colour Year: 1986 Rating: PG. Type: Comedy Description:

The foreman at a closed down auto plant convinces some Japanese businessmen to reopen the factory. Initially the one industry town is thrilled that the plant is saved, but the workers soon express unhappiness with the "foreign ways" that are being used to manage the plant. Some of these things include morning calnesthetics for the workers. The blame is quickly placed on the foreman who is in the sticky position of being the liaison between labour and owners. Grassroots organizing occurs and the workers walk out and than attempt to run the line themselves. Throughout are the expected comedic results. Review:

As a Hollywood comedy it is worth watching, perhaps as an introduction to labour relations. Anything deeper than this should not be expected as it does not say anything much about worker relations. It tends to stay on the light and airy side of the topic with even the serious moments being over dramatized or underplayed. An all right comedy, it is an interesting response to the market takeover of the auto industry by the Japanese in the early eighties.

Rating: **1/2 (C.N.)

Someone who is interested in unions or labour relations should not waste their time on this bad movie. It is boring and offers no relevant information on the subject. I didnít even think it was funny.

Rating: * (H.L.)

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Title: How Green Was My Valley

Subject: Unionization of coal workers

Length: 118 minutes

Availability: Blockbusters, Rogers ($3.00-$4.00)

Medium: VHS, black and white

Year: 1941

Rating: Not Rated. Suitable for younger audiences.

Type: Drama

Description:

Using flashbacks, we see the growth and change of a turn of the century Welsh mining family and town, told through the narrative of a young child. As a boy he would see his brothers and fathers come home from the mine and wash the coal dust off, and is envious. However as he grows up things in the village become more complex and the lifestyle he envied is drastically altered. Over a fifty year period he observes and takes part in unionization, strikes, mine accidents and family struggles. Through his eyes we see the disintegration of his family and the tragic breakdown of the townís simple way of life.

Review:

This is a majestic and truly moving film which has withstood the test of time. It uses simple scenes to flesh out a straight forward, yet large, plot. Through the eyes of one child and the relations involving one family the director achieved a much bigger and sweeping tale of a worker movementís and progressís effects on a community. This film is moving to watch and will draw in, and hold, even todayís viewers.

Rating: ***** (C.N.)

Although this is not an educational movie, it is highly entertaining and pleasant to watch. It does a great job in showing a particular way of life. It also illustrates the impact that a union can have on a family.

Definitely worth the time investment.

Rating: **** (H.L)

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Title: Reds

Subject: Socialist movement

Length: 199 minutes

Availability: Blockbuster, Rogers ($3.00-$4.00)

Medium: VHS, colour

Year: 1981

Rating: PG.

Type: Drama, Romance

Description:

Jack Reid is a romantic young leftist who went to Russia to witness the revolution and stayed to see its ideals crumble. He meets a young lady who becomes his lover and he then comes back to America as a leftist activist in the worker movement. The film shows the social conditions during the early 1900ís when socialist ideology flourished.

Reviews:

A poignant historical storytelling that effectively tells the story of the disenfranchised leftist movement in early 20th century America. The characters are quite well developed and relate well to the viewer. It is long at three hours , but does pass by relatively quickly.

Rating: ***1/2 (C.N.)

The film is interesting as it gives a historical development of the socialist influences in the North American labour movement. Although the Hollywoodism comes through, this film is a good depiction of socialist movements during the early 1900ís.

Rating: *** (J.Z.)

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UNION CORRUPTION

 

Title: On the Waterfront

Subject: Union corruption

Length: 108 minutes

Availability: Blockbuster, Rogers ($3.00-$4.00)

Medium: VHS, black and white

Year: 1954

Rating: Not Rated. Some violence and rough language.

Type: Drama

Description:

This movie is about the Mafia infiltration of the longshoremenís union and the consequent powerlessness of the dock workers. The story line revolves around the life of a young man involved with organized crime and the difficulties he faces as he is confronted with the cruelties of these men. This movie is based loosely on Malcolm Johnsonís Pulitzer Prize winning novel "Waterfront in New York. Review:

When it came out in 1954, On the Waterfront was a very controversial film. It was condemned by the present day union leaders and acclaimed by the viewing audiences, winning several Academy Awards. This film was one of the first, especially one of the first mainstream films, to put the spotlight on corruption in the unions. Given todayís standards and movies, On the Waterfront now seems very tame and overly dramatic. Howeve, it remains a story that is equally applicable to our times and serves to remind us that those things that are organized to protect us can become things that manipulate us. A simple but beautifully filmed, straight forward movie that I would recommend watching.

Rating: **** (C.N.)

This movie is very well done but provides very little information on unions, it focuses mostly on organized crime and corruption of the Dock Workers Union. However, in spite of this there was some feeling of union togetherness and some important issues were addressed, still this movie has more entertainment value than educational value.

Rating: *** (C.F.)

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Title: Hoffa

Subject: Union corruption

Length: 140 minutes

Availability: Casablanca, Blockbuster, Rogers ($3.00-$4.00)

Medium: VHS, colour

Year: 1992

Rating: R

Type: Drama

Description:

Sweeping over four decades, this film traces Hoffaís turbulent career from 1935 until his mob style execution in 1975. It begins when Hoffa first solicits overworked, underpaid truckers to join the fledgling Teamsters. It follows Hoffaís and his aideís rise to power and his relations with the Mafia, to his subsequent conviction and prison term under Robert Kennedy. Upon his pardon by Richard Nixon, Hoffa plans to wrest control of the Teamsters back from his successor. In the middle of his plans he and his aide are gunned down.

Reviews:

A shallow Hollywood film that is one of a group of modern films that portrays the union, not as a savior for the worker but rather part of the problem. Good acting by big name actors is not able to carry off a poorly written script to a conclusion very worth seeing. The motivations, emotions, and private lives are not sufficiently portrayed to allow the audiences to relate.

Rating: **1/2 (C.N.)

This was a good film, Jimmy Hoffa is portrayed well by Jack Nicholson. The story does fly back and forth between times, but after a while you realize whatís going on. The end of the movie shows how Hoffa was killed and disappeared with the help of the Mafia. This has never been proven officially, but the common perception of most people is that the Mob got him. Nicholson does a great job, at one point I was ready to join the Teamsters! In the words of Siskel and Ebert, two thumbs up.

Rating: ****1/2 (M.H.)

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Title: Teamster Boss

Subject: Union corruption

Length: 111 minutes

Availability: Casablanca, Blockbuster, Rogers ($3.00-$4.00)

Medium: VHS, colour

Year: 1992

Rating: R

Type: Drama

Description:

The true story of Jackie Presser, who succeeded Jimmy Hoffa as head of the Teamsters. He walked a fine line between the Mafia and the FBI, unsuccessfully trying to use these organizations for the good of the Teamsters. When he made friends with the President of the US he thought he had it made. However, one does not rise to power and make powerful friends without making powerful enemies. This film portrays some of the inner workings of the Teamster Union.

Reviews:

Another Hollywood film about corrupt union leaders. This is much in the same line as Hoffa. You could see either one and forget the other. Good acting is confused a bit by weakness in the script, itís not as easy to watch as other films in this genre. However, being based on a true story and with its portrayal of the counter-playing of the mob and FBI off each other, this film is worth a watch.

Rating: *** (C.N.)

This movie contains some of the foulest language I have ever encountered. Knowing what a union meeting is sometimes like, the language depicted in this movie is definitely accurate. I think that this film will give people a good indication of what went on behind closed doors of the Teamsterís some 20 years ago. A good film, but beware, you might find some very interesting vocabulary. I should also note that Presserís romantic life takes some valuable reel as well.

Rating: **** (M.H.)

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Title: Blood Feud

Subject: Jimmy Hoffa

Length: 200 minutes

Availability: Casablanca, Blockbuster, Rogers ($3.00-$4.00)

Medium: VHS, colour

Year: 1982

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Drama

Description:

Attorney General Robert Kennedy investigates Jimmy Hoffa and his dealings with the Mafia. He tries to find the connection between Hoffa and the underground. He eventually eases his quest as the evidence gets weaker.

Review:

This movie tries to convey the story of Jimmy Hoffa and his relationship with the Mafia but in creation of the story it also manages to hollywoodize the story. By creating a clear protagonist and antagonist, the story is somewhat one sided. It is a pretty entertaining movie and the facts presented are accurate. Although, you might not be able to make it the entire 200 minutes without dozing off, itís awfully long. Still, a good watch if you have the time.

Rating: ***1/2 (M.H.)

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DOCUMENTARIES & INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIAL

 

WOMEN AND UNIONS

 

Title: Union Maids

Subject: Women in Trade Unions

Length: 50 minutes

Availability: Com Media at the University of Calgary (previews: $3.00; off campus loans: $10.70 for 3 days)

Medium: 16mm, black and white

Year: 1975

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Personal narratives

Description:

Union Maids is an authentic look at the events surrounding the activities of three militant union women and their efforts during the 1930ís in Chicago. The film examines their struggles to organize unions in their respective work places, as well it addresses the issues that were important to the people of the time. Union maids deals with such issues as worker alienation from the product, social alienation in addition to on- the-job concerns, and feelings of apathy.

Review:

Union Maids is an informative film with its focus on the real life events of this time period, it's historically correct and provided the interaction with real people. This film is older and rather drawn out, but it is still very informative in regards to some basics about union life and women's issues at the time in addition to how unions were functioning at the time.

Rating: *** (C.F.)

Although the sound was not very good at times, this film shows great original footage of the kind of life that workers had during the 1930ís in Chicago. It shows the power of three strong women and labour unions. It is interesting and effective in informing the viewer on the issues of women and labour.

Rating: **** (H.L)

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Title: Keeping the Home Fires Burning

Subject: Women in trade unions (1939-1945)

Length: 49 minutes

Availability: Com Media at the University of Calgary (previews: $3.00; off campus loans: $10.70 for 3 days)

Medium: 1/2" Beta, colour

Year: 1988

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Personal narratives, dramatizations

Description:

Keeping the home fires burning is a two part Canadian based film that focuses on the subject of women and work and women and unions. Issues such as wages, women in traditionally male dominated jobs, and the issues that caused organization are all discussed. Interviews with women who participated in the war effort in the factories are included and provide the historical basis for the film.

Review:

This film includes a mix of actual footage, interviews and acting to illustrate the main points. The footage and the interviews are well done and very informative, however the acting is bad and the skits are poorly done. Still the film manages to get the major issues of the time across as well it does a very good job of providing the feel of what it was actually like during the war.

Rating: *** (C.F.)

While the first part deals primarily with women and work, the second part is more relevant with respect to the labour movement. The personal testimony is effective, but the dramatizations is badly done. Overall, the film is informative, I recommend it for all audiences interested in women and unions.

Rating: ***(H.L.)

Title: It's Not Your Imagination

Subject: Women and sexual harassment

Length: 21 minutes

Availability: Com Media at the University of Calgary (previews: $3.00; off campus loans: $10.70 for 3 days)

Medium: 16 mm, colour

Year: 1980

Rating: Not rated

Type: Interviews

Description:

This movie concentrates on women's issues of sexual harassment in the work place. It shows detailed accounts of what unions can do to aid women in a certain situations as well as what unions do to prevent this sort of problem from occurring.

Review:

It's Not Your Imagination gives a good description of the issues confronting women everyday in the workplace and how these issues are being dealt with by the unions. The case studies provided are excellent for the information they gave.

Rating: **** (C.F.)

Although interesting, this film dealt only briefly with the position of unions in this matter. I donít think it spend enough time addressing the role of unions.

Rating: **1/2 (H.L.)

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INSTRUCTIONAL & INFORMATIONAL VIDEOS

 

Title: Collective Bargaining Process

Subject: Collective Bargaining

Length: 147 minutes

Availability: Com Media at the University of Calgary (previews: $3.00; off campus loans: $10.70 for 3 days)

Medium: VHS, colour

Year: 1985

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Informational video

Description:

This four part film deals with the process of the collective bargaining agreement and the entire art of negotiation. Part one deals with the demands of the Union being presented to the company for negotiation of a new contract. The issues that are important to the workers are outlined here, as well the characters involved in the negotiation process are introduced. Part two sees the strategies that both sides of the negotiation process will use and what demands will be the hardest to bargain on. In this part the two sides start bargaining. In part three the debate over the new contract becomes more vigorous and the viewer can see the complications that arise from this type of discussion. In part four a solution is found and the new contract is signed.

Review:

This film might not be the ideal Hollywood movie but for anyone genuinely interested in the negotiation process, a lot can be gained. The most interesting part of the film is the actual negotiations at the bargaining table. I think you could gain a keen insight into how to negotiate with other people. Although this film only deals in a specific area, it does explain the collective bargaining process quiet well.

Rating: *** (M.H.)

This is a very detailed movie on the bargaining process, the issues are presented in a very clear manner. The information continues to be good throughout the movie but it is a rather long film with quite a bit of redundancy throughout the process, but overall it is an excellent resource.

Rating: *** (C.F.)

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Title: Grievance Arbitration Process

Subject: Grievance Procedures

Length: 111 minutes

Availability: Com Media at the University of Calgary (previews: $3.00; off campus loans: $10.70 for 3 days)

Medium: VHS, colour

Year: 1975

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Informational video

Description:

This is a four part series that deals with the details of the arbitration process, from the initial altercation to its resolution. The film carefully analyzes both sides of the incident and how each step in the arbitration process is carried out.

Review:

This film is not incredibly interesting and moves very slowly. The actors speak slowly and the incident is outlined in the actual hearing by both sides. This is not necessary because the viewer was already shown what happened. It could have been a better film if some editing was done to reduce the time to about an hour.

Rating: **1/2 (M.H.)

Grievance arbitration is a rather long film and got rather redundant after a while.. However it is very informative and well done overall, giving a real life account of what goes on in these type of situations by using a case study.

Rating: *** (C.F.)

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Title: Grievance

Subject: Grievance Procedures

Length: 30 minutes

Availability: Com Media at the University of Calgary (previews: $3.00; off campus loans: $10.70 for 3 days)

Medium: 16mm, black and white

Year: 1954

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Informational video

Description:

The film centers on a grievance on the shop floor and how this it moves through the various stages in the grievance process until it is settled by an arbitrator.

Review:

This film is very basic and simple to follow yet it provided a great deal of information at the various stages of the grievance process. It is well done and the acting was decent. While it is set in a particular time period it would still be useful to help with understanding the inner workings of a Union grievance process.

Rating: **** (C.F.)

I donít think this film is an accurate representation of what goes on during a grievance process. It seems to be somewhat sugar coated. I can only see it as being suitable for younger audiences who need an introduction to how the unions function. However, Iím not sure that this film, from 1954, is still relevant today.

Rating: ** (H.L)

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Title: Shop Steward

Subject: Trade Unions and Shop Stewards

Length: 22 minutes

Availability: Com Media at the University of Calgary (previews: $3.00; off campus loans: $10.70 for 3 days)

Medium: 16mm, black and white

Year: 1953

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Informational video

Description:

Shop Steward gives an insightful look at what it's like to be a shop steward and how they deal with the grievances and other issues presented to them. The film also goes into how a shop steward is selected.

Review:

The shop steward was a good film, it gave a simple and easy presentation on what a shop steward does on a daily basis. While the film itself is quite old it is still useful for understanding the intricacies of union life. Probably the best for younger audiences due to its simplistic account of the shop steward.

Rating: **** (C.F.)

Consistent with the rest of the series, this film is a simplistic look at the functions of a union. It is not very interesting, but could be informative for younger viewers

Rating: ** (H.L)

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Title: Chandlers Mill

Subject: Trade Unions

Length: 30 minutes

Availability: Com Media at the University of Calgary (previews: $3.00; off campus loans: $10.70 for 3 days)

Medium: VHS, colour

Year: 1990

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Historical/informational video

Description:

This film examines the issues of child labour, workerís rights and the organization of unions in Canada during the 19th century. This film is an historical account of the events surrounding Chandler's cotton mill in New Brunswick in 1889. A young girl is killed in a mill and no compensation is given to the family. This sparks some of the workers to rebel and join the Knights of Labour.

Review:

I thought that this film was very interesting and very informational at the same time. It did not have the Hollywood glare, but it still kept me bolted to my chair. This is a very good film to show to a high school audience because the issues are simple and the length of the movie is only thirty minutes.

Rating: ****1/2 (M.H.)

A well done movie, it is both interesting and informative. It puts into perspective the struggles of the lives of factory workers at this time period without overplaying it. It has a very good story line and is easy to follow.

Rating:**** (C.F.)

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DOCUMENTARIES

 

Title: Working Pictures - Labour in the Eighties

Subject: Labour and Labouring Classes

Length: 60 minutes

Availability: Com Media at the University of Calgary (previews: $3.00; off campus loans: $10.70 for 3 days)

Medium: 1/2" Beta, colour

Year: 1988

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Interviews and real footage

Description:

This film was divided into two parts, part one dealt with the concerns of hospitals, meat packers, Shell, harvesters, universities, airlines and coal field workers. Part two compared historical organizational tactics with contemporary society, as well this section gives an in-depth look at the issues concerning unions today. The film contained real footage and interviews with strikers.

Review:

This film gave a very good overview of unions and how they function. It brought contemporary issues to the forefront and explained them well. The film provided useful statistics to use in substantiating the claims of union members. As well all persons, from strikers to union heads were interviewed. The film did have a pro-union slant, but overall provided an excellent insight into contemporary unions.

Rating: **** (C.F.)

This film effectively illustrates some of the labour issues during the 1980ís. It is well balanced by showing the problems in different industries. Although it deals with the United States, it is still relevant to some of the issues that Canadian workers faced.

Rating: *** (H.L)

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Title: You Canít Jail The Strike

Subject: Gainers Strike of 1986

Length: 17 minutes

Availability: Com Media at the University of Calgary (previews: $3.00; off campus loans: $10.70 for 3 days)

Medium: VHS, colour

Year: 1986

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Documentary

Description:

This film is short and to the point. It outlines the general issues behind the Gainers strike in 1986. It gives in-depth points of how a Union functions at this time, and interviews with the strikers themselves. It illuminates the issues that are of concern to the employees and what they try to do before a strike was called.

It also shows the discontent of the union workers and their tendency to use violence.

Review:

I think that this film depicts the general anger that the strikers felt but its usefulness ends there. It seems to be more propaganda than documentary. If you want to see a bunch of angry strikers, watch the movie, if not, look for something else.

Rating: * (M.H.)

This was a very good case study into how unions operate in contemporary times. It clearly outlines the issues involved, from a legal perspective as well as individual accounts. Supplemented with footage of real violence and personal interviews with strikers, it gives a true account of what itís like to be on strike.

Rating: **** (C.F.)

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Title: Interview with Alexandra Dagg

Subject: International Ladies Garment Union

Length: 51 minutes

Availability: Com Media at the University of Calgary (previews: $3.00; off campus loans: $10.70 for 3 days)

Medium: VHS, colour

Year: 1995

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Interview

Description:

This film features a speech that Alexandra Dagg is giving to a group of people in a conference room about the ILGU and its functions. As a representative, she discusses some of the issues that the workers face, a history of the union, and the future prospects of the union. Attention is also given to how the union operates and deals with different cultural groups. It dealt with these issues from a Canadian perspective while projecting itself as an international union.

Review:

This film is really nothing more than a home video of a woman speaking about the ILGU. There is no excitement, no interesting questions posed, and Alexandra is not a particularly good speaker. The film is only useful for someone who wants to learn more about the ILGU. It does not raise any universal union questions. Not worth the time if you donít care deeply about the ILGU.

Rating: *1/2 (M.H.)

The interview was actually a video of a information seminar for clothing union recruits, not an actual one-on-one interview. It came across as very pro-union, and was long and drawn out. The basic information was good but became repetitive.

Rating: ** (C.F.)

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Title: Final Offer

Subject: United Auto Workers

Length: 78 minutes

Availability: Com Media at the University of Calgary (previews: $3.00; off campus loans: $10.70 for 3 days)

Medium: VHS, colour

Year: 1985

Rating: Not Rated (should be given a language warning)

Type: Documentary

Description:

This film shows the leadership and regional politics involved in the 1984 contract negotiations between the United Auto Workers and General Motors Corporation. It also illustrates the tensions between the American and Canadian parts of the union which lead to the eventual break up of the sectors.

Review:

This film effectively shows the struggles of Bob White, the head of the Canadian sector of the UAW, in the process of negotiation. It was very informative and quite an eye opener to someone who has never witnessed behind the scenes activities of contract negotiations. I highly recommend this film.

Rating: *****(H.L.)

This film is very informative and well done. It shows the level of politics involved in the relationships between union leaders and company executives. It also illustrates how the Canadian sector of the UAW broke away from the international union.

Rating: ***** (J.Z.)

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Title: Imperfect Union - Part 1: International Background-Canadian Roots

Subject: History of Trade Unions in Canada (1890-1929)

Length: 55 minutes

Availability: Calgary Main Public Library

Medium: VHS

Year: 1989

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Documentary (National Film Board of Canada)

Description:

The film is a historical account of the formation of Canadian unions. It looks at the relationship of organized labour and political parties in Canada and the international background of that relationship. It illustrates the working conditions and issues during the late 1800ís and early 1900ís. The alliance of trade unions and democratic socialism is looked at through Britain, Sweden, Australia, and the United States in order to illustrate the background for Canadian unions. The film looks at the effects of immigration, the first World War, the Russian Revolution on the labour movement.

Review:

The film is a very good historical account of the formation of Canadian Unions. I certainly recommend it.

Rating: **** (J.Z.)

This an interesting and very informative account of labour unions not only in Canada, but also in other parts of the world. The real film footage was a great way to show viewers the actual conditions at work, key organizers, and way of life during that time. I recommend this film to anyone who is interested in the beginnings of labour unions in Canada.

Rating: ***** (H.L.)

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Title: Imperfect Union - Part 2: Born of Hard Times

Subject: History of Trade Unions in Canada (1927-1938)

Length: 52 minutes

Availability: Calgary Main Public Library

Medium: VHS

Year: 1989

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Documentary (National Film Board of Canada)

Description:

The film looks at the effects of the Great Depression on the workers in Sweden, the United States, and most of all Canada. It discusses the formation of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (in Calgary) and its lack of support from trade unions. It also looks at the impact of the Regina Manifesto, 1937 General Motors strike in Oshawa, and World War II.

Review:

By showing real footage from the time and narratives from experts in the field, this film effectively illustrates the conditions in Canada during the 1930ís. It is very informative and interesting to watch.

Rating: **** (H.L)

This is a good illustration of the effects of the Great Depression on the workers in Canada. It gives a great deal of information in a short time.

Rating: **** (J.Z.)

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Title: Imperfect Union - Part 3: Falling Apart and Getting Together

Subject: History of Canadian Trade Unions (1939-1961)

Length: 53 minutes

Availability: Calgary Main Public Library

Medium: VHS

Year: 1989

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Documentary (National Film Board of Canada)

Description:

This film shows Canadaís industrial might. The trade union movement flourished during this time. It discusses the coming to power of the CCF party in Saskatchewan and the formation of the CLC. The film addresses the communist influence on the union movement at the time in this country.

Review:

Consistent with the series, this film is very informative and interesting to watch. It addresses many of the issues relevant to Canadians.

Rating: **** (H.L.)

This film is very effective in showing important issues in Canadian history. It does a very good job at illustrating the relationship between unions and the communists.

Rating: **** (J.Z.)

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Title: Imperfect Union - Part 4: New Party, Old Problems

Subject: History of Canadian Trade Unions (1962-1989)

Length: 58 minutes

Availability: Calgary Main Public Library

Medium: VHS

Year: 1989

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Documentary (National Film Board of Canada)

Description:

This film mostly focuses on the NDP; its leaders, its public image, and its problems. It discusses how much power the party held across Canada and its alliance with the Canadian Labour Congress. It focuses on the Niagara Peninsula industrial area in order to examine labourís political significance.

Review:

The film spends a great deal of time discussing political issues that are relevant in the face of unions and labour movements. Itís very informative but has a tendency to be a bit on the dry side.

Rating: *** (H.L)

This was a very good film showing the relationship between the CLC and the NDP.

Rating: **** (J.Z)

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Title: Unions

Subject: A look at the movement to abolish unions

Length: 35 minutes

Availability: Calgary Main Public Library

Medium: VHS

Year: Not shown (around 1980ís)

Rating: Not Rated

Type: Documentary

Description:

Composed of three short films, this series provides a comprehensive look at the anti-union movement in North America. ĎWhy Unions?í discusses whether employees can receive union benefits without joining a union. ĎThe Right to Work Movementí looks at the oldest anti-union organization. ĎA Union Free Seminarí introduces Charles Hughes, leader of the union-free movement.

Review:

This film is a very interesting presentation of different aspects of unionism. It outlines different issues in the anti-labour movement and is very informative.

Rating: **** (J.Z.)

Although these films raise some key issues, they could have been made more interesting. They are informative and short, which is always a good combination.

Rating: *** (H.L)

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Title: Canadaís Sweetheart

Subject: Corruption and politics

Length: 115 minutes

Availability: Calgary Main Public Library

Medium: VHS

Year: Not shown

Rating: Not rated

Type: Documentary

Description:

This documentary/drama deals with the violence and corruption associated with Harold Chamberlain Banks. Directed by the Canadian government, this American unionizer used his power to break up the Communist led Canadian Seafarers Union. This film shows how the careers of 6000 seamen were destroyed by the power of one man.

Review:

This film is very disturbing, especially it you consider that these events actually happened. It was very well done and very informative.

Rating: **** (J.Z.)

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