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SEIU and the Election of Barack Obama: A Review of Labor Day

Bennett Baumer Nov 12

Labor Day
Directed by Glenn Silber
Catalyst Media Production, 2009

Labor Day is a documentary funded by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) about the union’s involvement in electing Barack Obama president. The film is a good agit-prop vehicle for motivating union members to get involved with SEIU’s formidable get out the vote organizing and not a political critique of electoral or union politics. The film also includes compelling testimonials from union members who did the grunt work of electing the leader of the most powerful country in the world.

The film veers only slightly into the Democratic Party’s many limitations – impotence in the face of massive job loss – as a SEIU member talks about the decision to work on the Obama campaign even though her husband has been laid off. Talking heads of union officials are also quick to talk up democracy in action by union members, a nod to the intra-SEIU battles over local union autonomy and the controversy it has produced.

Unions would be wise to produce more documentaries like Labor Day to motivate their members into action.

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