I saw this film several weeks ago and have been meaning to say a few things about it. Herewith:
1. This is an exceptionally intelligent movie by American standards. It maintains a high level of wit and observation from beginning to end, and little zingers flash by in almost every frame without announcing themselves. It speaks up to its audience, something I really appreciate.
2. STBY fits into a tradition of films in which the act of organizing a union and carrying out a job action is held up as a revolutionary political and personal challenge. Other examples include “Norma Rae” and “Bread and Roses”, but actually I was reminded even more of “The Cradle Will Rock”, at least in spirit.
3. There’s a California, loose-limbed absurdist aspect too. I was reminded a bit (giving away my age, race and sensibility) of the Firesign Theater.
4. Kate Berlant as the employee motivation hack was perrrrfect.
5. Thank you, Boots, for showing us so clearly the “race versus class” debate is vacuous. These are not separate things in America.
6. Maybe the horse stuff was a little too much, even for me.
On a serious note, the fundamental question in any strike is whether there will be scabs, and whether the police will push them through the line. If the job doesn’t require scarce skills, the boss is willing to alienate the workforce, and the power of the state is enlisted to break the strike, it will almost always fail. (Maybe the only exception is where a boycott of the strikebreaking company can be effective.) All the politics of labor action swirl around these issues. Spoiler alert: the intervention of the horse people at the end is not just a plot device, it’s a way to finesse the the central problem labor activism has to deal with in the twenty-first century. But that’s OK—it’s only a movie.
See also John sayles excellent “Matewan”. (If you can; most of the home video releases have been awful)
Wisconsin Repubs mandated regularly scheduled (yearly!) re-certification elections for public employee unions (having gutted what they can bargain about down to inflation limited pay raises);
Iowa, next door Repubs tried same w/o the gutting — 93% of union, not just those who voted, went for re-cert;
Florida Repubs will now require 50% of state teachers to be dues paying members to their local unions or mandatory re-certification will be forced upon them.
congressional Repubs have a bill in the hopper that would require all private workplace unions to re-certify anytime membership fall below original members (virtually all I think).
What’s to keep the blue wave from requiring cert/re-cert/de-cert elections at every private workplace?:
cannot possibly lock up millions of business owners and managers for union busting activity — even we made it a fed felony — their resistance to unions too ingrained after 40 years of defying the law;
quick and easy way to restore labor union density and rebuild our economic and social fabric at the same time;
quick and easy way to restore to Dem party the battle ground voters who voted for Obama over McCain before becoming alienated by O’s disinterest.
Why Not Hold Union Representation Elections on a Regular Schedule?
Andrew Strom — November 1st, 2017
“Republicans in Congress have already proposed a bill [Repub amend] that would require a new election in each unionized bargaining unit whenever, through turnover, expansion, or merger, a unit experiences at least 50 percent turnover. While no union would be happy about expending limited resources on regular retention elections, I think it would be hard to turn down a trade that would allow the 93% of workers who are unrepresented to have a chance to opt for unionization on a regular schedule.”