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60 minutes, 2004, Producer/Director: Alexandra Lescaze Photo credit: Robert Fox An online FACILITATOR GUIDE is available for this title.
ABOUT THE FILM
2004 CINE Golden Eagle Winner! 2006 Emmy Award Nominee!
After a quarter century of struggle, mill workers in Kannapolis, North Carolina won the single largest industrial union victory in the history of the South.
Like most other industries in the South, Cannon Mills was sharply segregated until the 1960s and employment opportunities for African-Americans were limited to janitorial positions and other maintenance-type tasks outside the mills. As well, municipal services, the newspaper and even the police department were controlled by Charlie Cannon, the same man who owned the town and doled out the jobs.
An employee who was arrested for drunken and disorderly conduct might find himself without a job, and a suspected union organizer could count on being run out of town. Cynthia Hanes, a third-generation employee, remembers that her grandfather nearly lost both his job and his home simply for housing his brother, a union leader, during the General Strike of 1934.
In this atmosphere of intimidation, Cynthia and others explain, workers tended to submit more or less willingly to sub-standard working conditions, paltry pensions and, at times, outright harassment from company managers. For many of the film’s main characters, the degradation experienced by their parents and grandparents was an important catalyst - one that would eventually prompt them to action.
Where Do You Stand? Stories From An American Mill is a haunting documentary about the rise and fall of an American town and the epic struggle of the people who live there. In the process it tells the story of dramatic changes in labor and demographics, in the nature of corporations, the rise of multinationals, and changes in the American South in the post-industrial age.
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"Where Do You Stand? presents the untold story of American textile workers, what they endured, and how they fought back. It is a sobering story but also an inspiring one. I hope it will be widely seen.
"This skillfully rendered film is essential viewing for all students of contemporary American history.
It is an epic story of the search for human dignity. It is a tale of tragedy and triumph, courage and cowardice, victory and defeat."
Nelson Lichtenstein, Labor Historian, U.C. Santa Barbara
"This is an important film that should be shown in high schools, college campuses, and union halls across the country to remind us all to stick with the struggle and make it global.
Where Do You Stand? is a bittersweet story, beautifully told, about just how long and just how hard workers are willing to fight for the kind of economic and social justice only a union can bring."
Kate Bronfenbrenner Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations
"You will leave this film much wiser about the stark cruel reality facing workers who try to organize a union, and you will definitely want to do something about it! This film is a must see for law students and law professors
with an interest in labor relations and/or employment law."
Judith A. Scott General Counsel of S.E.I.U.
"The drive for unionization was a struggle that was about more than money; the workers wanted fair working conditions and to be treated with respect. A riveting documentary and an excellent tool for both classroom instruction and for public programming."
Educational Media Reviews Online
"The workers profiled set a new standard for courage and determination in their 25-year struggle for dignity on the job."
Bruce Raynor, President UNITE / H.E.R.E.
"What the men of wealth behind this system will never understand - and why they will ultimately be defeated - is the human spirit of people like those in Kannapolis. They shine through this film."
Maude Barlow, Chair Council of Canadians (Canada's largest citizen advocacy organization)