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Norma Rae Essay

1724 words - 7 pages

Norma Rae

     This film is based on the real life story of Crystal Lee Sutton and her involvement with Ruben Warshovsky and the organization of the textile workers at the J.P. Stevens Company in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina (Labor Films). Sally Field plays the lead role of Norma Rae (Crystal Lee Sutton) fighting poor working conditions at O. P. Henley Company in 1978. This company is a southern textile mill, working with a union organizer to overcome pressure from management, implied dangers, and the struggle to organize her fellow employees. Although, the film is very entertaining, there are many examples of labor and management interactions including unfair labor practices by management, unfair labor practices by the union, and the procedural process of unionization process.

     Norma Rae a loom operator in the weaving room is an outspoken individual and is very out spoken about her poor working conditions such as excessive noise, long hours with short breaks, physical stress from standing for long periods and abnormally high temperatures in the work areas. Added to all this is management¡¦s apathy for the working conditions, as seen when her mother looses her hearing temporarily with little or no sentiment from the company doctor, who knows this is a common problem for the workers. With this setting, the film progresses through most of the stages for employee organization. While management tries to get the workers support to keep the union out, and labor struggles to get a foothold to develop worker unity and get the union elected as the official bargaining agent both sides violate federal laws or come precariously close. First the Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) of the union will be examined.

     After reviewing the film a rather short list of union ULP¡¦s, but they are potentially damaging and could be used by management to contest the outcome of the election if so desired. One committed by labor representative, the other by Norma Rae and are summarized as follows.

During an authorized plant inspection by Ruben Warshovsky, part of the unionization campaign, the union representative would stop and address employees ¡§Hello, I am Ruben Warshovsky from the United Textiles Workers Union of America,¡¨ or some other greeting identifying himself as a union representative while traveling through the plant. Management threatened to get an injunction to disallow any further interference if he did not stop, because it was slowing the work process. He acknowledged their demands and continued with the inspection. This is a potential violation of ULP section 8b-1 by the union impeding the work process and it could cause management to discriminate against specific employees affecting the membership drive 8b-2.

Towards the end of the film management questioned Norma Rae about her unauthorized use of the phone on company time. Norma Rae became defensive during the questioning and wanted to take the full name of all management in the...

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