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Hormel Strike in the American Dream
American dream is a film that was directed by Barbara Kopple in 1990. The film is centered on the strike that took place against Hormel foods due to a two dollar decrease in the wages of the workers in the meat packing plant. The decrease of wages from10.69 dollars to 8.25 dollars received a negative welcome by the workers and other people. This reaction was a result of the fact that the company had been making good business at the time and claimed the wage cut was to enable them to stay competitive. (Yahnke, 1)
The strike saw the management of the meat packing company trying to justify the wage cut by claiming that it was a visionary strategic move as it did not wish to see the company fall apart since its costs had out done its productivity. The management of Hormel Food resulted to firing all the striking workers and replacing them with new ones. By so doing the managements replacement approach made them look cowardly and hard headed since they were not willing to meet the striking workers halfway and listen to what they had to say.
The local union took a more strategic approach to ensure the return of the workers to their jobs under favorable conditions. Ray Rogers, a consultant hired by the union, came up with strategies that attracted the national press’ attention (Yahnke, 1). The labor union used the human emotion and lobbying as an approach to get the workers the working conditions that they deserve. In so doing, it hoped to appeal to the public’s empathetic side so as to drum up support for their cause. This however only produced short lived effects since people grew weary and some of the workers decided to go back to their jobs. The local unions approach failed as it was taken as a form of harassment and not a diplomatic bid to solve the problem at hand as was initially intended.
In conclucion, both the local union and the company management were flawed in their ways of reasoning and in their attempts to quell the strike that went on for months. As a company, Hormel’s decision to lay off striking workers some of whom had been working there for up to 43 years saw the company loss its loyal and hardworking staff. This lead to an unprecedented turn over cost that further increased their expenditure instead of reducing it as intended in the wage cuts.
The local union’s approach to bully the company too had its detrimental effects. It saw the members of the union lose faith in the union and opt to go back to the company due to the economic hardship the strike had caused on the workers and their families.Work Cited
Yahnke, Roberts. “Film Summary: American Dream”. 04 Mar. 2009. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.