(1990) is a cinéma vérité documentary film directed
by Barbara Kopple
and co-directed by Cathy Caplan, Thomas Haneke, and Lawrence Silk.
The film recounts an unsuccessful strike in the heartland of America
against the Hormel Foods
The film is centered on unionized meatpacking
workers at Hormel Foods in Austin, Minnesota
between 1985 and 1986. Hormel had cut the hourly wage from $10.69 to $8.25 and cut benefits by 30 percent despite posting a net profit of $30 million. The local union (P-9) opposed the cut, but the national union, the United Food and Commercial Workers
, did not support them.
The local union is shown hiring a freelance strike consultant, Ray Rogers
, who comes in with charts, graphs and promises of a corporate campaign
to draw national press attention. Rogers delivers in the short term, but, it is not enough to defeat opposition from Hormel management and the UFCW international union.
The local union, in defying its national union, believed that its workers should be paid more by Hormel than unionized workers at other companies. This came at a time when the U.S. had just emerged from a deep recession and inflation was at or near double digits, thus making the company's financial position fragile despite its profitability.
A negotiator for the national union is shown on camera explaining that their rapacity cost the national union forty years of benefits, as the local union made the mistake of... Read More