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American Dream (1990)

PG-13 | | Documentary | 6 October 1990 (USA)
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 9 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Documentary

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

Gross:

$269,823 (USA)
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1.85 : 1
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One of the best documentaries ever made.
10 August 2000 | by (W. Frankfort, IL (USA)) – See all my reviews

This film is absolutely stunning. It centers around union meatpacking workers at a Hormel plant in Austin, Minnesota in the mid-80's. The trouble started when Hormel cut worker pay from $10.69 an hour to $8.25 an hour. The problem? Hormel had just posted a net profit of $30 million. As one worker at a union meeting put it, "If we have to take a cut of $2.45 an hour when the company just made $30 million, I hate to think of what's gonna happen when they actually post a loss." With no help from their parent union, International Food and Commercial Workers Union, the local union (P-9) goes on strike alone trying to bring Hormel to its knees. Director Barbara Kopple, who also made the great "Harlan County, USA", does an outstanding job of capturing every important moment. She has the camera there at every union meeting, press release, Hormel press release, etc. She also shows the very personal aspects of a strike going into people's homes and showing their innermost feelings about what's going on. In the end, the strike is long, drawn out, and things appear bleak. The constant Minnesota cold, snow and ice are always in the background as well. If one doesn't have a greater appreciation for unions and what they have to sometimes endure after watching this film, he/she probably didn't pay very good attention.


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