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American Dream (1990)

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The film is centered on unionized meatpacking workers at Hormel Foods in Austin, Minnesota between 1985 and 1986. Hormel had cut the hourly wage from $10.69 to $8.25 and cut benefits by 30 percent despite posting a net profit of $30 million. The local union (P-9) opposed the cut, but the national union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, did not support them.

The local union is shown hiring a freelance strike consultant, Ray Rogers, who comes in with charts, graphs and promises of a corporate campaign to draw national press attention. Rogers delivers in the short term, but, it is not enough to defeat opposition from Hormel management and the UFCW international union.

The local union, in defying its national union, believed that its workers should be paid more by Hormel than unionized workers at other companies. This came at a time when the U.S. had just emerged from a deep recession and inflation was at or near double digits, thus making the company's financial position fragile despite its profitability.

A negotiator for the national union is shown on camera explaining that their rapacity cost the national union forty years of benefits, as the local union made the mistake of "tearing up" and attempting to rework the contract, thus opening the door for Hormel to toss out guarantees and benefits that had formerly been standard. Other companies in the field subsequently followed suit, as Hormel and its contract were considered the "gold standard" in the industry.

American Dream features footage of union meetings and press releases, Hormel press releases, news broadcasts, and in-depth interviews with people on both sides of the issue, including Jesse Jackson.



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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "American Dream (film)", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.