Radical History Network Film Screening, Haringey, 18th April

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jef costello
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Apr 7 2007 18:56
Radical History Network Film Screening, Haringey, 18th April

This month we are showing a film about women’s activity to get equality, as part of the Wood Green International Film Festival -

“Union Maids”

CineWorld , Wood Green High Street, N22

at 8 pm Wednesday 18 April

released: 1976, length: 48 minutes ,the film is unrated, but suitable for all ages,

directed by Julia Reichart, Jim Klein, Miles Mogulseco,

It is a scripted documentary, based on Alice and Staughton Lynd’s Rank and File - personal histories by working class organisers [1973, USA, 297pp].

Entrance £3, but members of RaHN and concessions are free

Women’s struggle for equality in societies dominated by money, privilege, discrimination and tradition is never ending but the stories of Stella Nowicki, Sylvia Woods and Kate Hyndman [Christine Ellis] are inspirational and memorable. The “Union Maids” talk direct to a black and white screen about their experiences in America of the 1930s and 40s, chiefly in and around Chicago.

All three found work in the factories and, by organising in the workplaces, overcame cheapskate bosses, fiddling supervisors and old fashioned attitudes among existing union members – usually male and white. They were left on their own till they won their battles by solidarity and supporting each other, in separate struggles it should be noted.

The three women, from Polish, Croatian and deep South immigrant families, were employed in metal working and meat packing workplaces, as well as laundries and clothing. The film tells of their early life and later experiences. They battled as well against poverty, evictions, unemployment , and racism. They managed to transform the lives of workmates, family and neighbours.

The back ground is the outbreak of mass activity after the economic crash and unemployment in post depression USA. The traditional union movement, the AFL, interested only in skilled craft workers, ignored this expansion of the semi and unskilled, and left them to their isolation. The workers - men and women, black and white - were forced to set up unions in the workplace and then nationally. This movement became the Congress of Industrial Organisations and, right up to the 1950s, was the body associated with self activity , strikes, etc. Stella , Kate and Sylvia became active in other political struggles before telling their stories in the !970s

You can read more about the lives and times in the Lynd’s book or Tom Zaniello: Working Stiffs , Union Maids, Reds and Riffraff – an organised guide to films about labor [1996 USA, 295pp], or Richard Porton: Film and the Anarchist Imagination [1999, 314pp]. Come along and bring a friend. There is a discussion afterwards on the film’s importance. This is a film to remember and be inspired by.

This is all the information that I have on this.