Free «On Strike and on Film by Ellen R. Baker Book» Essay

On Strike and on Film by Ellen R. Baker Book

Summary of Argument – Acquisition of Labor Dignity

The book argues on acquisition of labor dignity by the Mexican American miners, gender equality adopted by the miners, union and solidarity among the working-class, and embrace of change to realize effective outcomes. In 1950, a strike started in a rural Southwestern mining community when local 890 of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers broke up negotiation with Empire Zinc over work conditions and wages. The company later got a court injunction prohibiting miners from picketing. It resulted to miners’ wives taking over the picket lines, which in the end resulted in the strikes’ success in January 1952. However, the change in labor dispute caused squabbles among miners and their spouses. The film team picked core interest on the wives walking circles and completely shutting down the mine. Besides labor conflict being on the forefront in the movie Salt of the Earth, it also focused on negotiating power relations among family members. For the business to proceed amicably, family members need to agree on power sharing. The approach advised by the author is to ensure minimal conflict in business operations.

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How the Author Makes and Supports the Argument

Ellen R. Baker makes and supports the impression that the miners’ strike resulted to labor dignity among the Mexican American community, solidarity among the working class, and effective outcomes realized on implementation of change. The author explores coincidence as a tool throughout her story. It is first experienced when the miners down their tools following a court injunction, and their spouses in return takeover the picket lines. It was a strange and one-of-a time event that suddenly sees the women demanding for negotiation with gender equality as a subject. Neither the miners nor the union saw that coming, but they both needed to arrive at a decision since the miners’ family affairs were now directly involved in the push for negotiation. Ideally, inclusion of family matters in the decision-making process would help enhance better relations between the minors and the union. The author also uses irony as a tool when outlawed Hollywood filmmakers and the mining families’ collaboration resulted to an inspiring story that cited the miners’ plight and that of their wives alike. The controversial 1954 film, Salt of the Earth, was a brainchild of irony and invention when filmmakers decided to create a progressive alternative to Hollywood production.

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The writer shows how the strike, a conflict, accorded the miners’ wives a platform to voice and demonstrate reprieve from oppression they had endured and did not want to sustain any longer. Women’s participation in union activities was also cited as means of negotiation because it forced the miners and the union to face troubling questions regarding gender equality. This is evident on the unique and unprecedented act of women taking over the picket lines, consequence of which was the strikers’ victory in 1925. Salt of the Earth, a marvelous story, resulting from collaboration between outlawed Hollywood filmmakers and the mining families, went a long way in demonstrating how doing things differently produced immense global results.

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In On Strike and on Film, Ellen R. Baker examines the building of a liberal union that linked justice to ethnic equality. The formation of the union aimed to stabilize workers’ dignity in their works. She explores the domino effect of events resulting from the miners’ strike as a catalyst. In addition, it results in collaboration between the mining families and blacklisted Hollywood filmmakers, giving birth to a controversial 1954 film Salt of the Earth. Ellen R.Baker elaborates how the women’s willful participation in union activities opened up a chance for their taking over the picket lines, hence, pushing their spouses and the union to iron out their outstanding differences, including gender equality. In her opinion, the women exploited the union-miners’ disagreement to express dissatisfaction on the society’s view of them. They took to the platform not only to liberate themselves, but also their husbands and the Mexican-American community as a whole.

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The book bases its story on the fact that the mineworkers labored in the mining region for the core reason of their families. Therefore, isolation of the mining operations during the strike period sees the mineworkers’ wives assume unusual importance to their husbands, that of providing to the family. Women’s action drove a significant message to the male-dominated society, that of equality and self-worth.

Ellen also cites how the alliance between the mining families and Hollywood filmmakers offered the mining families an opportunity to clarify significance of the trike in their own perspective. Hollywood filmmakers, on the other hand, viewed the alliance as a reformist and noble alternative to Hollywood productions. Though strongly disregarded and condemned by anti-communists, Salt of the Earth has endured not only as a captivating American cinema, but also an inspiring story about women’s liberation, Mexican American self-worth, and working-class harmony.

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The results support the conclusion that the author in her book examines and supports the building of a democratic union that linked class justice to ethnic and gender equality. She also points out how collaboration between the mining families and Hollywood film makers acted not only as a progressive alternative to Hollywood production, but also accorded the mining families an opportunity to clarify significance of the strike in their own perspective.

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