Category Archives: Organizing

The Machinists (2010)


Directed by: Hannan Majid and Richard York
Documentary Feature (52 minutes)

In the teeming city neighborhoods of Bangladesh, young women work 15 hour days. In dangerous and dirty conditions, they make high fashion clothes for Europe and the USA. Their children suffer, their parents suffer and yet they find the will to fight back and organize a union. These women just suffered the worst factory fire disaster since the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in NYC over 100 years ago. Over 112 killed in one fire, with 7 more only weeks later.


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Haymarket Martyrs–Origins of International Workers Day

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Mean Things Happening: PBS Great Depression Series (1993)

PBS Great Depression Series, #5

Producer: WGBH, Boston

Narrator: Joe Morton

51 minutes

This documentary examines the efforts that tenant farmers and steelworkers undertook to organize and unionize amidst The Great Depression of the 1930s. Using interviews, film footage, and historians’ reflections, it recounts the privation and violent conditions facing H.L. Mitchell and the Southern Tenant Farmers Union (STFU), and industrial workers who formed the Steelworkers Organizing Committee (SWOC) of the burgeoning Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). Racism, paternalistic company towns, heavy-handed anti-unionism and violent opposition posed grave obstacles to organizers in the Southern agricultural fields and Northern industrial cities alike. A key element to the success of the SWOC and CIO on the one hand, and the failure of the STFU on the other, was the legal framework protecting organizing, rights, and concerted activity for private-sector workers with the passage of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which expressly excluded agricultural and domestic workers who comprised much of the South’s workforce. The result was the rise of powerful unionism in much of the more industrialized North, Midwest, and West, and the concomitant absence of effective unionism from the more agricultural South and Southwest, in the Depression-riddled 1930s.


Stitched Together: Students, and the Movement for Alta Gracia (2012)

28:43; U.S.

Director: Will Delphia

Synopsis: A documentary film examining the Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republic, a new college apparel company attempting to challenge the sweatshop model of production by creating a factory with living wages, good working conditions, and an independent trade union.

Full Film


The Creation of the CIO (1935)

7:18; U.S.

Director: March of Time

Synopsis: Newsreel documentary focusing on John L. Lewis and accounting for the reasons behind and early conflicts over the split of the American Federation of Labor in 1935 and the creation of the rival federation, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).  Film is clearly pro-CIO and contains fantastic footage of Lewis, Sidney Hillman, and other major organizational leaders of labor in the Depression years.



The Spirit Level (still in production)

Director: Katharine Round

Synopsis: Based on the best-selling book The Spirit Level, this film shows why a more equal society is better for all of us, including the rich. Yet still this gap is at its highest level for 30 years. It’s time for action, and a documentary is the most powerful way we can raise awareness and mobilise people.





Margaret Haley & Chicago Teachers (2007)

3m; U.S.

Director: American Federation of Teachers

Synopsis: Documentary on Margaret Haley and the origins of American Federation of Teachers in Chicago, circa 1917.


The Pipe (2010)

80m; Ireland

Director: Risteard Ó Domhnaill

Synopsis: “The most dramatic clash of cultures in modern Ireland, the rights of farmers over their fields, and of fishermen to their fishing grounds, has come in direct conflict with one of the worlds most powerful oil companies. When the citizens look to their state to protect their rights, they find that the state has put Shell’s right to lay a pipeline over their own.

The Pipe is a story of a community tragically divided, and how they deal with a pipe that could bring economic prosperity or destruction of a way of life shared for generations.”





The Price of Childhood (2010)

90m; U.S./Nepal

Director: Kan Yan

Synopsis: The story of child laborers in Nepal is a story of ethnic oppression, simple cruelty and remarkable hope. The Price of Childhood seeks to explain this phenomenon through the narratives of those who live with child labor—children, parents, owners, activists, government officials, scholars, and normal folks we meet along the way. In better understanding the situation from these various perspectives, the film aims to assist in improving the lives of those who suffer.



<p><a href=”″>Price of Childhood Trailer</a> from <a href=””>Kan Yan</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Children, Documentary, Organizing


Southern Patriot (2010)

77m; U.S.
Director: Anne Lewis & Mimi Pickering
Distributed by California Newsreel and Appalshop

Synopsis: “Anne Braden: Southern Patriot (1924-2006)” is a first person feature documentary completed May 1, 2012. Braden rejected her segregationist, privileged past to become one of the civil rights movement’s staunchest white allies. In 1954 she was charged with sedition by McCarthy-style politicians who played on fears of communism to preserve southern segregation. In 1963 she became one of only five white southerners whose contributions to the movement were commended by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his famed “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” A relentless labor and political organizer, she fought for transformation and liberation throughout her life.  –