Strength In Union is an epic documentary film series that portrays the dramatic story of the history of the American labor movement.
One of the most important stories in American history has never been told on film...
Support the Arete Living Arts Foundation in the creation of Strength in Union, an epic documentary film series that will create a positive public image for labor unions.
The Strength in Union film will….
- Present union workers in a heroic light as men and women who have sacrificed for the public good
- Combat anti-union propaganda that is presented in right wing media such as Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck
- Use engaging entertainment to educate the public on the many rights and benefits unions have given to all workers, such as weekends, 8-hour work days, sick days, health and retirement benefits, safety regulations, etc.
- Create an emotional connection and personal identification with the labor movement for people all across America
The struggle for working class men and women to gain union representation is a tale of violent battles, political intrigue, complex conspiracies, and legal confrontations. It is a story that has shaped our government, economy, and affected the living standards of every American.
ARTISTIC AND SOCIAL GOALS:
It is a time crisis for the labor movement in America. But it also a time of reawakening. A reawakening that requires education, passion, and a renewed appreciation for the important role that the labor movement has, and continues to play in providing justice for workers around the world.
We live in a time when workers’ rights are a hotly debated issue in the struggle between the political left and right, and in the 1% vs. 99% debate. There appears to be a concerted effort to vilify unions. Terms like “labor thugs” and “corrupt union bosses” are regularly used by right wing pundits to smear union members. Some politicians are actively trying to discredit, break, and even outlaw collective bargaining.
Many people do not understand the important role that labor unions have played in creating a better standard of living for all working class Americans. Often people can be heard denouncing unions, while they unknowingly enjoy the benefits unions have brought to their lives.
The goal of the film will be to educate the public on the history of the American labor movement, to present a study of the criticisms and controversies surrounding unions, and to investigate the forces and motives behind the anti-union campaigns.
We are raising for a small amount to support immediate day-to-day operations and marketing, including travel and production expenses, the creation of stickers and t-shirts with our logo, advertising, and supplies. We are working with a team of developers to help fully fund our documentary.
Our Indiegogo campaign is to ensure we can cover current operational costs. We are running ads on Facebook, and once funded we will include Google AdWords. We need funds for our press releases, which is currently being sent to over 250 labor and news publications, and we need to cover general operating expenses, including food, office supplies, and travel.
The importance of this campaign is to ensure that we can help maintain and grow our profile during this crucial time in development. Our plan is to continue production in the Northeast, and increase oour visibility creating items including t-shitrs and stickers. We need to cover travel and operating costs so we can continue filming, and we must help cover other production costs over the next few weeks to help increase our pace.
My work is motivated by a desire to promote socially conscious thinking. I grew up in a small rural town in central Pennsylvania, surrounded by people who saw little hope for a better life as factories closed down and wages stagnated. Their hopelessness often led to drug and alcohol addictions, domestic abuse, violence, suicide, and other self-destructive behaviors that create wider social problems.
These experiences and memories have provided a guiding principle in my work as a filmmaker. Although I am motived by a sense of cause, at the same time I am able to look at issues without prejudice and present the facts in an unbiased manner. I believe these are some of the qualities that make my team and I the right candidates to tell the important story of the American labor movement.
* Caeser Pink
Among those appearing in the film are:
* Reg E. Cathey (The Wire, House Of Cards, 30 Rock) – Narrator
* Pete Seeger (Legendary Folk Singer and Activist) – Narrator
* Leo Gerard – International President of the United Steel Workers
* Daniel J. Walkowitz – Author and New York University labor historian
* Captain Lee Moak - President of the Airline Pilots Association
* Dr. Charles McCollester – Director of Pennsylvania Center for the Studies of Labor Relations
* Lawrence J. Hanley - President of the American Transportation Workers
* Cliff Guffey – President of the American Postal Workers Union
Note: In addition to the events listed in the following outline, important issues will be interwoven throughout the film. Among these are race relations, women’s rights, fluctuations in the U.S. economy, the divide between skilled and unskilled workers, and people such as Eugene Deb, Mother Jones, and John Lewis.
Employee/Employer Relationships as Inherited from 16th Century England – The film’s first section will look at the traditional employee/employer relationship and the surprising lack of legal rights granted to employees in English law that dominated the early American colonies. It will also provide an overview of worker’s living and working conditions at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.
Combination/Conspiracy – In the early American colonies labor unions and strike activity were considered to be illegal combinations or conspiracies designed to hamper free trade. This became the first legal hurdle that had to be overcome in order for workers to form labor unions.
The Lowell Miracle (1836) – One of the earliest strikes in the U.S. was the Mill Girls Strike in Lowell, MA. The mills were considered a model of patriarchal factory life. The workers were provided boarding houses, expected to maintain high moral standards, and attend church services. During the turn out, it shocked the community to see women speaking in public and taking part in rebellious behavior not considered appropriate for
ladies of the era. The strike was not only one of the first successful labor actions, but also an early sign of the social changes that would soon give birth to the women’s suffragette movement.
Commonwealth vs. Hunt (1842) – In 1939 the Boston Journeymen Bootmakers Society went out on strike. The leaders were charged and convicted of conspiracy. On appeal, Lemuel Shaw, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that unions were not necessarily criminal or conspiring organizations and had the right to strike, as long as violence or other illegal activities were not used.
Slavery/The Civil War (1861-1865) – The labor provided by millions of African Americans held in slavery were an important factor in labor supply and labor relations. This section will present an overview of the status of African American workers in the north/the effects of the Civil War on labor relations/and racism within unions after emancipation.
The Pinkertons/The Molly Maguires (1876−78) – In the coal mining regions of Pennsylvania, Irish workers allegedly formed a secret society called the Molly Maguires. As confrontations between strikers and mine owners became increasingly violent, a spy from the Pinkerton Detective Agency was hired to infiltrate the secret organization. This led to the arrest and hanging of twenty men. The trial was controversial due to state control of the proceedings being taken over by the mine and railroad owners. The mine owners tarnished the Workingmen’s Benevolent Association (WBA) miners union by equating them with the Molly Maguires, and used the incident to rid the mines of labor unions.
The Haymarket Riot – On Tuesday May 4, 1886 in Haymarket Square in Chicago, a bomb was thrown at a rally in support of strikers calling for an eight-hour workday. The gunfire that followed resulted in the deaths of seven police officers and four civilians. The event led to public hysteria. Although the bomber was never identified, eight anarchists were convicted of conspiracy. Supporters of the labor movement claimed that the men were convicted because of their political beliefs. Memorials for the event led to the beginning of May Day celebrations around the world.
The Homestead Strike (1892) – The Homestead strike was a major setback for the labor movement. The strike was spurred by Andrew Carnegie’s plan to break the hold the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers union held over his Pittsburgh area steel mills. Carnegie’s surrogate Henry Frick locked the workers out of the mill and planned to bring in strikebreakers. When Frick called in the Pinkerton Detective Agency it led to a gun battle with the strikers. Eventually the state militia came to support the mill owners. The failure of the strike led to the collapse of the union and the de-unionization of steel mills throughout Pennsylvania
The Company Town/Company Script – In the company town, the workers’ housing, as well as the local store were owned and operated by the employer. The employee was often paid in company script that could only be spent at the company store. This made workers completely dependent on the company for survival, making striking or saving money to move for a better job, nearly impossible.
The Pullman Strike/Eugene Debs (1894) – The Pullman Car Company strike was led by Eugene V. Debs of the American Railway Union, and began in the company town of Pullman, IL. The strike expanded to become a nationwide conflict. When national railroad lines were closed down, federal troops were called in and violence broke out in many cities. Debs was convicted and imprisoned for violating a court injunction. In the aftermath of the conflict Labor Day was made a national holiday as a means to appease members of the labor movement.
Big Bill Haywood/The IWW – This section will tell the story of the 1905 trial of Big Bill Haywood and the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The IWWʼs motto was ʻOne Big Unionʼ to include all races, genders, and both skilled and unskilled laborers. Haywood and the IWW organized the dramatic Lawrence Children’s Exodus during a textile strike in Lawrence, Mass. In 1917, Haywood was convicted of espionage and sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Strike and Fire (1909-1911) – The Triangle Shirtwaist Strike brought twenty thousand women into the streets to protest for shorter hours, better pay, and safer working conditions. When public opinion turned against the garment manufacturers the companies agreed to negotiate with the unions. A year later a fire in one of the company’s buildings led to the death of one hundred and twenty-nine women who were working in the building. Among the politicians who investigated the tragedy was Robert F. Wagner, who would later help pass The Wagner Act.
The Ludlow Massacre (1914) – The Ludlow Massacre is recognized as one of the deadliest strikes in American History. Mine workers in Ludlow, Colorado struck against the John D. Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. Workers were moved from company owned housing into a tent community. During battles between the striking workers and state militia loyal to the mine owners, the tent city was attacked and burned. Two women and eleven children hidden in the tents were killed, leading to further attacks on the mine operators. The event tarnished Rockefeller’s reputation for many years.
Battle of Blair Mountain (1921) – For five days thousands of armed coal miners confronted lawmen and militia in the largest armed rebellion since the Civil War. The battle was triggered by a confrontation in the town of Matawan, WV between agents hired by the mine owners and the town’s sheriff who was protecting the miners and their families. Following the battle, 985 miners were indicted for murder, treason, and conspiracy. The failure of the strike was a major setback for the United Mine Workers (UMW) union.
The Wagner Act (1935) – The National Labor Relations Act was the most important piece of legislation affecting labor relations in the United States. The act legitimized labor unions and defined rights and protections for collective bargaining.
The Auto Worker Sit-Ins (1936-1937) – The successful sit down strikes in Flint, Michigan led to the unionization of the American auto industry and the transformation of the United Auto Workers (UAW) into a major labor union.
The Taft-Hartley Act (1947) – After WWII, largely due to the Wagner Act, twenty-five per cent of American workers were members of labor unions. In response, anti-labor forces pushed through passage of the Taft-Hartley Act that restricted the activities and power of labor unions.
The AFL-CIO (1955) – The merger of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) represented the end of a long struggle to merge skilled craft workers and unskilled industrial workers. From 1955 through 2005 the AFL-CIO represented almost all unionized workers in the United States.
American Prosperity – The 1950ʼs and 1960ʼs were a time of increased prosperity for American workers, and a time of strength and success for labor unions. This section will provide an overview of these years.
The Reagan Era – Episode Four begins with an overview of a new political era and an explanation of supply side economics. Labor relations are fundamentally intertwined with the dual economic visions that are at the heart of the conflict between the left and right, and that continues to dominate modern politics.
The Air Traffic Controllers Strike – In 1981 President Reagan fired the striking air traffic controllers and decertified the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) union. Many consider this to be the turning point in labor relations that has led to the decline in labor union power and success in the years that have followed.
Is There An Anti-Union Campaign? – This section will look at media coverage of labor issues, anti-union organizations such as the National Right To Work Committee and the Chamber Of Commerce, and politicians with anti-union platforms.
Right To Work Laws – This section will present an in-depth look at the legal, political, and economic issue involved in “Right to Work” laws. It will also investigate the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation and look at who is funding such organizations.
Union Corruption? – Union leaders are often referred to as “union thugs” who are only interested in enriching themselves. Is there truth behind these accusations? Who is promoting this image in the media and why are they doing so?
Why Is The Post Office Going Bankrupt? – When the public hears news reports of financial problems at the USPS, many are quick to assume it is due to government waste and mismanagement. We will look at the political maneuvering that has forced the Postal Service to the edge of bankruptcy.
How Did Teachers Become Villains? / Collective Bargaining Rights – A controversial issue in recent years has been the use of legislation to limit the collective bargaining rights of public service employees. Public workers, and especially teachers, have been painted as parasites on the taxpayer who don’t earn their pay. Who is promoting this criticism and is it part of a push for smaller government and lower pay for workers?
Do Unions Hurt The Economy? – One of the main criticisms that anti-union forces make against unions is that they hurt the economy and cause job loss. We will look at the facts behind this complex issue.
The Effects of Globalization on Unions – Many believe that NAFTA, globalization, and the outsourcing of jobs have played a major role in the decline of unions. We will look at the effects of globalization on labor relation.
The Future Of Labor – The closing section will explore the possible paths for the future of the labor movement within our quickly changing world.
* Strength In Union will consist of four one-hour episodes. It will be shot on high-quality HD video
* The first three episodes will utilize historical photos, graphics, documents, and film clips. They will also include interviews, narration, and actors reading the words of historical figures.
* The fourth episode, which deals with current political and economic issues facing labor unions will be presented in a faster-paced style, integrating interviews, animated graphics, news clips, and strike and protest footage.
The film is being produced by the Arete Living Arts Foundation, a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the creation of art works that inspire personal, political, or spiritual awakening. For more information on the Arete Living Arts Foundation visit: www.aretelivingarts.org
DIRECTOR – CAESER PINK
Caeser Pink is a filmmaker, musician, and author. Pink has a twenty-year history of presenting innovative group multimedia performances that combine film and video, music, dance, and theatre. His independent films have been studied for their experimental form and activist content in film study curriculums at the University of Denver and the Pennsylvania State University.
PRODUCER – HEATHER MILBURN
Heather Milburn is the President of the Arete Living Arts Foundation’s board of directors. Over the last twelve years she has produced dozens of complex group multimedia performances. Heather is also an events organizer who has produced art exhibitions, poetry and performance events, and large cultural events.
PRODUCER – DANIEL K. WAINGARTEN
After spending nearly a decade working as a project manager at some of the country’s largest law firms, Dan switched his focus to filmmaking. He has worked on numerous independent productions and has a degree in Political science, with a focus on labor relations.
PRODUCER – Michael Afesi
Michael Afesi has been involved in the development of over twenty productions working with clients such as Palomar Pictures, RSA USA, Geronimo Films, Maysles Shorts, Robot Films, Rockhard Films, and Geneva Films.
The shooting portion of the film is approximately twenty-five per cent completed. We are currently developing a rough draft of the narration script. Our researchers are compiling historical photos, graphics, and video footage.
Subjects who have been interviewed:
* Leo Gerard – International President of the United Steel Workers
* Dr. Charles Lumpkins – Labor historian from the Penn State University
* William Dougan - President of the National Federation of Federal Employees
* Lawrence J. Hanley – President of the American Transportation Workers
* Frank Cyphers – President of the International Chemical Workers Union
* Pete Seeger – Legendary Folk Singer and Activist
* Captain Lee Moak – President of the Airline Pilots Association
* Cliff Guffey – President of the American Postal Workers Union
* Mark Mix – President of the National Right To Work organization
* Julian Stoltz – President of the PA Right To Work organization
* Paco Fabian – Communications Director for Change To Win
* Charles Showalter – On air personality for Union Edge Talk Radio
* Daniel J. Walkowitz – New York University Professor of Labor Relations
* Charles McCollester – Historian and Author (Homestead Strike)
* Ronald Baraff – Historian, Rivers Of Steel Archivist
* Lance Metz – Historian (Molly Maguire Trials)
* Joseph Wayne – Historian (Molly Maguire Trials)
* Judith Ranta – Author, Historian (Lowell Mill Girls)
* Jane McAlevey – Author, Union Organizer
DISTRIBUTION & MARKETING STRATEGY:
Avenues for Monetization:
Broadcast Television (Likely PBS)
We have received significant interest from WPSU TV, a PBS station whose producers are interested in taking the project for national distribution. But we have decided to remain independent until the project is further developed.
Because of the social significance of the historical story, and the relevance to current political and economic issues, we feel confident that we will be able to find a medium for national broadcast.
We currently operate a social media campaign on facebook, twitter, and youtube.
We will be sending out a press release announcing the project to the numerous labor newspapers, magazines, and online publications. At that time press releases will also go out to film and media publications.
On a project-wide level the risks are low, as we are working with high-profile developers to help us fully fund the project. These funds will start to come in over the next few weeks. We need to maintain operating costs to prevent any slowdowns in production and marketing.
Production will not be halted should we not meet our fundraising goal, however we will have to delay some crucial marketing work, and it will hurt our ability to film over the next few weeks. The funding will ensure that we keep expanding our marketing efforts, and will cover short-term production costs; over-funding this project will help to increase our marketing efforts, raising or visibility, and increasing the amount of filming we will be able to do in the near future.