Chronicles the six-month strike at Hormel in Austin, Minnesota, in 1985-86. The local union, P-9 of the Food and Commercial Workers, overwhelmingly rejects a contract offer with a $2/hour ...
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Chronicles the six-month strike at Hormel in Austin, Minnesota, in 1985-86. The local union, P-9 of the Food and Commercial Workers, overwhelmingly rejects a contract offer with a $2/hour wage cut. They strike and hire a New York consultant to manage a national media campaign against Hormel. Despite support from P-9's rank and file, FCWU's international disagrees with the strategy. In addition to union-company tension, there's union-union in-fighting. Hormel holds firm; scabs, replacement workers, brothers on opposite sides, a union coup d'état, and a new contract materialize. The film asks, was it worth it, or was the strike a long-term disaster for organized labor?Written by
First-class documentary on a labor strike by blue-collar workers in 80's America
"American Dream" is a sobering and fascinating documentary depicting the social, economic and emotional ramifications of a labor strike initiated by employees at a Hormel meatpacking plant in Austin, Minnesota. Although the film depicts events that take place in 1986, the content is every bit as relevant today on the subject of the perennial gap that exists between rank-and-file workers and top executives at major U.S. corporations, and the general greed and mercenary attitude that drives said corporations at the expense of hard-working employees. Like "Roger & Me," the acclaimed documentary by Michael Moore that savaged General Motors and the 80's corporate ethos of "profits above everything else," "American Dream" is a priceless portrait of blue-collar work and life in small-town America, the kind of place that people who live in New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles or any other major metro area will probably never see.
Austin is a town where one company is the largest employer (in this case, the Hormel meat company), on whom generations of workers depend for their livelihood. The film puts a human face on the repercussions that result when Hormel, despite record profits, cuts the salaries of its workers. If the balding, grey-suited, humorless Hormel executives depicted here (wearing huge eyeglasses in the style of Lee Iaccoca) are not the epitome of 80's greed, I don't know what is. They are Gordon Gekko come to life, caring only about their bottom line and how to maximize profit, completely indifferent to the plight of their workers. The Enron debacle shows that, for all their economic might and wealth creation, there is a dark side to corporate America. "American Dream," its ironic title aside, is a journey to that dark side that should be seen by every worker, blue-collar or white-collar. Try to catch it on the Sundance or Independent Film Channel.
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