Tag Archives: Strikebreaking

Strikebreaking During the Depression (1934)

5:06; U.S.

Director: March of Time newsreel

Synopsis: Newsreel footage about Pearl Berghoff, the owner of the Berghoff Agency which was one of the premier strike-breaking companies through the 1930s.  The newsreel both gives an overview of Berghoff, and looks specifically at his company’s involvement in strikes in Georgia in 1934.


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1913 Massacre


Director: Ken Ross & Louis V. Galdieri

Synopsis: 1913 Massacre follows singer/songwriter Arlo Guthrie to the town of Calumet, a once-thriving mining town on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula still haunted by the tragic events that inspired Woody Guthrie’s ballad, ’1913 Massacre.’

On December 24, 1913, the striking copper miners of Calumet were gathered with their wives and children for a holiday party at the Italian Hall. After the festivities had begun, someone — to this day, no one knows who — yelled Fire!

Despite efforts to keep the Hall under control, panic took hold of the crowd. The miners, their wives and children made a mad rush for the stairs. In the ensuing chaos, seventy-four people were crushed and suffocated to death on the stairway. Fifty-nine of the dead were children. There was no fire.

In the version of events that found its way into Woody Guthrie’s song, the “copper-boss thug-men” had plotted to yell Fire! and were holding the door of Italian Hall shut, so that the miners and their families could not escape.

The town itself is still divided over exactly what happened. And no one can explain why they tore down the Italian Hall in 1984.

1913 Massacre captures the last living witnesses of the 1913 tragedy and reconstructs Calumet’s past from individual memories, family legends and songs, tracing the legacy of the tragedy to the present day, when the town –out of work, out of money, out of luck — still struggles to come to terms with this painful episode from its past.




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The Coca Cola Case (2009)

85m; Colombia/Canada

Director: Carmen Garcia & Germán Gutiérrez

Synopsis: Colombia is the trade union murder capital of the world. Since 2002, more than 470 workers’ leaders have been brutally killed, usually by paramilitaries hired by private companies intent on crushing the unions. Among these unscrupulous corporate brands is the poster boy for American business: Coca-Cola. Talk to Martin Gil: His brother Isidro was killed at point-blank range while working at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Carepa, because he was part of a union bargaining unit. Like most violent crimes committed against Colombian union leaders, Gil’s murder went unpunished. However, U.S. lawyers Daniel Kovalik and Terry Collingsworth, as well as activist Ray Rogers, stepped in and launched an ambitious crusade against the behemoth Coca-Cola. In an incredible three-year saga, filmmakers German Gutierrez and Carmen Garcia follow these heroes in a legal game of cat and mouse. From Bogota to New York, Guatemala to Atlanta, Washington to Canada, The Coca-Cola Case maintains the suspense of a hard-fought struggle. The lawyers filed several cases at the U.S. federal court against Cola-Cola for murder, abduction and torture committed in Colombia and Guatemala. Thanks to activist Ray Rogers, they also attacked the brand image of the Atlanta-based giant, with the devastating Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, causing dozens of U.S. colleges and universities to remove Coke products from campuses.



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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Documentary, Politics, War



The Uprising of ’34 (1995)

87m; U.S.

Director: George Stoney, Judith Helfand & Susanne Rostock

Synopsis: THE UPRISING OF ’34 tells the story of the General Strike of 1934, a massive but little-known strike by hundreds of thousands of Southern cotton mill workers during the Great Depression. The mill workers’ defiant stance – and the remarkable grassroots organizing that led up to it – challenged a system of mill owner control that had shaped life in cotton mill communities for decades.

Contact: First Run Icarus Films ( /



Who Killed Chea Vichea? (2010)


Director: Bradley Cox

Synopsis: In 1999, Cambodian garment workers demanding decent wages and working conditions found their leader in Chea Vichea. As president of Cambodia’s free trade union, he stood with them despite beatings and death threats. Until a sunny morning in 2004. As Vichea read the paper at a sidewalk newsstand, three bullets silenced him forever. Under intense international pressure, the police arrested two men and extracted a confession. They were sentenced to 20 years each. But did they have anything to do with the crime? What seems at first to be justice done starts to look like a frame-up. And the implications reach far beyond the police station and the courtroom: to the headquarters of the ruling party and to the garment trade that is Cambodia’s economic lifeblood. Director Bradley Cox shot Who Killed Chea Vichea? over five years, covering events as they happened and tracking down witnesses in a country where knowing too much can cost you your life. Who Killed Chea Vichea? is a highly charged murder mystery, a political thriller, and a documentary like no other.




Witness To Revolution, The Story of Anna Louise Strong (1984)

27m; U.S.

Director: Lucy Ostrander

Synopsis: This film contains the history of the 1919 Seattle General Strike in the context of the life of Anna Louise Strong, a partisan and a journalist, who reported on the strike and also on the Everett, Washington Massacre, which also took place in the same year. The film provides a close up look at why the strike took place and how it affected the working people of Seattle and the world.


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2:46m; U.S.

Director: Michael Moore

Synopsis: Comic vignette from Michael Moore’s TV show The Awful Truth.

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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Comedy



Strumpet City (1980)

360m; Ireland

Cast: Frank Grimes, David Kelly, Angela Harding, Peter O’Toole

Synopsis (IMDB): Covering the years between 1907 and 1914, Strumpet City follows several characters through the nightmare years of the “Dublin Lockout,” when the Catholic Church sided with the industrialists to smash Irish labor’s first substantive steps towards unionizing. Using the real-life labor organizer Jim Larkin (Peter O’Toole) as the dramatic lynchpin for the various stories, Strumpet City juggles several storylines to give an overall view of the terrible poverty and misery that afflicted the working poor of Dublin. The central story revolves around Mary (Angela Harding), a young domestic who comes to work for the wealthy, oblivious Bradshaws (Edward Byrne and Daphne Carroll). Once Mary meets handsome, kind foundry worker “Fitz” Fitzpatrick (Bryan Murray), she immediately falls in love, and the couple make plans to save enough money to eventually marry. Mary, distressed at the way the Bradshaws shuttle off their devoted housekeeper Miss Gilchrist (Mairin D. O’Sullivan) to the poor house when she can no longer work, decides to leave the insensitive Bradshaw household and marry Fitz.



Rebellion in Patagonia (1974)

110m; Argentina

Director: Héctor Olivera

Cast: Pedro AleandroHéctor Alterio and Luis Brandoni

Synopsis (New York Times): “Rebellion in Patagonia” covers a great deal of ground in the sweeping style of the muralist, opening with the assassination of an Army colonel in Buenos Aires in 1923 and then going back several years to describe the events leading up to that assassination.

Most of the action takes place on the broad plains of Patagonia, one of the most beautiful, most spooky landscapes on earth. It was there that a coalition of Communists and anarchists had successfully organized the workers on the sheep farms. When the landowners later refuse to honor their agreements, new strikes break out and the Army chief, once sympathetic to populist cause, sets out to break the movement in a campaign that’s estimated to have taken the lives of 3,000 workers.

The film is a collection of vignettes, richly detailed with the sort of character and incident that recall nostalgically but without sentimentality the sense of high purpose of early trade-unionism. The movie has a great fondness for these seminal labor fighters, including a young Spanish activist (Luis Brandoni) who is also a realist, and a fine old German idealist (Pepe Soriano) who puts his life on the line for his beliefs.

It’s not all black versus white, though. Mr. Olivera defines divisions within the ranks of both sides, sometimes tragically and often wittily, as in an early trade-union meeting when the success of a strike is celebrated by the Communists with a rousing anthem while their nonpoliticized Chilean compatriots look on aghast. They haven’t yet been taught that politics can be expressed in song.


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The River Ran Red

Director: Steffi Domike and Nicole Fauteux.

Synopsis: Blair Brown narrates this gripping account of a community’s struggle to preserve its way of life. In the summer of 1892, a bitter conflict erupted at the Carnegie Works in Homestead, Pennsylvania. The nation’s largest steelmaker took on its most militant labor union, with devastating consequences for American workers. Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick head a fascinating cast of characters which includes 300 armed Pinkerton guards, and the would-be assassin, anarchist Alexander Berkman. To evoke the strike and its century old legacy, the film employs documentary techniques, primary sources, dramatically staged scenes shot on location in the Pittsburgh area, and lyrical commentary found in poetry, song and fiction.