Didactic Material: The Salt of the Earth

9 08 2010

Didactic Index Card: DE CASTRO MEJUTO, L.F., SALT OF THE EARTH. STRIKE MOVEMENT IN DEFENSE OF
WORKERS’ DIGNITY AND THE BIRTH OF FEMALE TRADE UNIONISM

Synopsis: With a style similar to documentaries, historical reconstruction, the film narrates the
development of a real strike at a mine in the United States in 1951. Working conditions –
and treatment- of Mexican workers are much worse than those of Anglo, or more
precisely, wasp [white Anglo-Saxon people] workers; against this racial discrimination they begin
an indefinite strike with a picket line at the entrance of the mine, to prevent their replacing
by strikebreakers. The company tries to cut that action by an injunction prohibiting
picketing, without indication about relatives, a fact exploited by the miners’ wives to take
ownership and obtain the main objective: corporation sits down and negotiates decent
working conditions for Mexican workers and an additional one: the emancipation of
women and free of the limited role they have been given so far. During 94 minutes of
projection, dramatic images succeed introducing the roles of each participant in the strike:
the union and its leaders, workers’ participation, cost of an indefinite strike, and so on.
There’re hard scenes in the movie: when Esperanza pray God her child doesn’t born,
because this is an unfair world; when Quinteros lose their radio, because they cannot pay
the last installment; or when Esperanza gives birth to her child in a hut, while police are
beating up her husband; starvation as reason of blacklegs’ betrayal; or saying that three
children in her care and no job is not a hopeless case; the sign at store during strike («no
credit for workers»); or, finally, Ramón Quintero’s abuse his wife.

Keywords: Strike – Discrimination – Women’s Equality – Racism – Feminism –
Picketing – Union – Strikebreaking


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