Telling the Labor Story

Labor Lines regularly reports on the challenges facing the labor movement, and the exciting plans labor leaders have to effect positive change. In this week’s program we explore how creative filmmakers and writers are brining labor’s story to the big screen and to your book shelves.

Capturing the Labor Story in Films

Labor Film telling the labor storyLabor-Lines has frequently focused on the handiworks of labor oriented filmmakers. “Brothers on the Line,” “American Made” and various other films have been the subjects of our shows. In collaboration with Sasha Reuther, writer/director of Brothers on the Line, we assembled a panel of filmmakers to discuss three films at various stages of production to show what is involved in bringing powerful labor stories to the big screen. Sara Ziff, a professional model and founder of the Model Alliance, is an activist pushing for better working conditions in Bangladesh. She’s developing a film called “Tangled Thread.” The recently released trailer shows how solidarity between professional models and Bangladeshi factory workers can pressure the well know clothing brands to require better working conditions from their suppliers.  Rachel Leers and Robin  Blotnick, are co-directors of “The Hands that Feed,” a film which follows workers drive to unionize a “Hot and Crusty” bake shop in Manhattan. This film is making the rounds of the film festivals. It encourages other workers to take action and to improve their working conditions. Then, Sasha Reuther tells us about the growing collaboration among labor filmmakers and the importance of using labor film to make labor history more accessible. His film, “Brothers on the Line” relates how his grandfather and great uncles fought to establish the UAW as a labor powerhouse. It is now available on various platforms such as iTunesAmazon and Google

The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi

Tony Mazzochi There have been many great labor leaders but it is not very often that you learn about someone as unique and brilliant as the late Tony Mazzocchi. Les Leopold’s book “The Man who Hated Work but Loved Labor” shows how Mazzochi, a WWII Veteran, entered the labor movement through his work on the factory floor. A strong advocate for fellow workers, Mazzochi constantly challenged the labor movement to be even better. Leopold, a lifelong friend of Mazzochi, is our guest, along with his son Chester Leopold, and Tony’s daughter Kristina, now an environmental tort attorney.  Mazzochi’s work in the Long Island labor movement almost took him to the halls of Congress. He championed issues which are still on the front burner today such as organizing, equal pay for women, and rebuilding the labor movement from the ground up. But Mazzochi became even more famous for his work on environmental issues that effected workers. He championed research on occupational diseases and fought for worker safety. President Nixon credited Mazzochi with inspiring the establishment of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Mazzochi discovered the links between occupational exposures and various types of cancers and neurological disorders. He was able to convince scientists and physicians to examine these connections in further detail, thus becoming one of the fathers of occupational disease law.  Kristina Mazzocchi, now an attorney at Belluck and Fox focusing on environmental torts, told us about what it was like to be raised by such an iconic labor leader and how her father’s work motivated her to become an environmental law attorney and activist since she was young. No doubt, he would have been proud. Sure, you can read the facts about Mazzochi’s life on the internet, but a story teller like Leopold, who knew the subject and how he thought, can successfully bring the man into your living room. This book is an exciting read.

Similar Programs

1) Fathers Day Show: Sasha Reuther joins us with his dad to talk about the Reuther brother legacy

2) Joel Shufro, 34 years of achievement at NYCOSH – How Class Works: Joel Shufro talks about development of NYCOSH and importance of worker safety

3) Now Showing: Workers Unite Film Festival – Defending the Scaffold Law: Labor Film festival highlighting the importance of labor film

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