Norma Rae Movie Analysis

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The movie Norma Rae was a great movie to watch in regards to labor relations and put in perspective why people in the 70’s and 80’s fought so hard to unionize industries where the textile mill in the movie was part of. There are a number of issues that the movie brings up such as safety issues, why the textile mill needed a union, the role of not only management, but a union organizer and the struggle of trying to bring a union to a nonunion town are just a few examples.
Right from the beginning of the movie we start noticing issues that deal with why big mills such as the JP Henley Textile Mill needed to unionize in order to keep people safe. Norma’s mother loses her hearing in the movie and while running to the doctor’s office in the mill,
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The letter provoked on edge workers, saying things like blacks were going to take over the union, there would be loss of jobs and serious violence. The movie was a little unclear of exactly what the letter said, one line I could distinguish encouraged people to ‘dominate the situation and control it as you see fit’. It was important for Norma to get the exact words to Ruben so that he could file against management within the rights of the NLRA. I think the role of management bringing Norma into their office violates the idea that management can’t interrogate someone about their involvement in a union campaign. I feel that they were being hard on Norma because she was a big influencer for other employees encouraging them to vote pro-union. The turning point of the whole movie is when they tell Norma they want her off the premises for copying the letter and she stands up on the table with the union sign. One by one the workers shut off their machines and the climax of the movie was the silence of the machines in the plant, signifying that people stood with Norma and the union.
We have also talked about in class is how unions need to become recognized and it was interesting to have the movie actually show a secret-ballot representation election with a black man for the union and a white man representing management. The newspapers there taking pictures, and the mill shut down for the count of the votes, was very powerful to watch. The movie was great and showed what it was really like for big mills to become unionized. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie and it was interesting to put into perspective everything we have learned thus far in Labor Relations

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