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American Dream (1990)

PG-13  |   |  Documentary  |  6 October 1990 (USA)
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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 ... See full summary »

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »


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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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for momentary strong language | See all certifications »


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Release Date:

6 October 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amerikaniko oneiro  »

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Box Office


$269,823 (USA)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

No Retreat No Surrender
18 May 2012 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

American Dream (1990)

**** (out of 4)

Barbara Kopple's Oscar-winning documentary follows a meat packing strike in Austin, MN and those familiar with the director's HARLAN COUNTY, USA will certainly have a lot to compare. This film follows the unions decision to pull their workers after Hormel reported a $29 million dollar profit and then asked their workers to take a pay cut and have their benefits reduced. While this film doesn't reach the same heights as HARLAN COUNTY, there's no question that this here is still a pretty remarkable documentary in its own right. There's no question that Kopple knows how to tell a story and more importantly find the passion, fire and energy of a story and exploit it to make sure the message of those individuals get across for the viewers. The documentary was clearly on the side of the workers as this is where we spend the majority of the running time. The first forty-minutes of the film focuses on the pre-strike as we get to know the main people involved and we get a very good idea of the working conditions in America at the time and it's clear that going on strike is very dangerous for a number of reasons. The final hour of the picture deals with the strike as the workers get dragged along for months and the end results aren't anywhere close to a happy ending. As someone who has worked for a union I can see both sides of the coin but it really does seem that the majority of the people lost here and that's a real shame. Kopple does a remarkable job at telling this story and there's no question that your attention will be glued to the film from start to finish.

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