Price: $195.00

    Code: 2440
    Format: DVD

    Directed by Sasha Reuther
    2012, 80 minutes
    Purchase: $195 | Classroom rental: $85

    Narrated by Martin Sheen, Brothers on the Line explores the extraordinary journey and legacy of the Reuther brothers - prolific labor leaders and organizers whose crusade for social justice, at the helm of the United Auto Workers union, forever transformed the auto industry and labor in this country. The film follows the brothers as they rise from shop-floor organizers in 1930s Detroit to leaders in collective bargaining, civil rights activism, and international labor solidarity.

    In 1930s Detroit, a new industrial revolution came to life in the colossal factories of the Motor City. Taking a stand against oppressive working conditions, young autoworkers, Walter, Roy, and Victor Reuther, overcame intimidation and violence to help organize sit-down strikes; the most successful occurring at the General Motors facilities in Flint, Michigan. Their bold rhetoric challenged the mighty automakers, winning unprecedented quality-of-life gains, giving a voice to the rank-and-file, and establishing the United Auto Workers as one of the most influential unions in American history.

    As UAW President for nearly three decades, Walter was heralded as a visionary negotiator and leader, with his brothers as advisors on community, political, and international affairs. Together, they forged a potent coalition of Washington lawmakers, overseas dignitaries, and social activists. The union's innovative settlement details encouraged a flourishing middle-class, while its resources supported the burgeoning civil rights movement in a common fight for a fair shake. On the other side of this impassioned battle, stood a web of adversaries threatened by the Reuthers' and determined to silence them. While the FBI files overflowed with accusations of revolutionary subversion, conservatives and captains of industry team up to discredit the union. Dissent within the UAW bubbles to the surface as the Reuther brothers faced heart-wrenching consequences at the crossroads of their political loyalty and militant rank-and-file roots.

    Spanning over forty years, and featuring an impressive roster of interviewees including autoworkers and executives, historians, activists, professors and civil rights leaders, Brothers on the Line delivers an in- depth examination of the legacy of the visionary labor organizers. A timely tale of one family's quest to compel industrial America to live up to its promise of a fair day's wages for a fair day of work, this is a dramatic document of successful social action.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Winner, Best Documentary Feature, Detroit Independent Film Festival/ Michigan Film Awards
    * Winner, Best Documentary Feature, Workers Unite Film Festival
    * Winner, Best Documentary Feature, Thin Line Film Festival Texas
    * Winner, Silver Telly Award, History/Biography category
    * Official Selection, Chicago International Social Change Film Festival
    * Official Selection,Reel Work Labor Film Festival
    * Official Selection, LaborFest San Francisco
    * Official Selection, Canadian Labour International Film Festival
    * Official Selection, Bread & Roses Labor series


    "Shows how the brothers built the U.A.W. and how that union helped raise living standards for not just one million autoworkers, but also for a large swath of America. The film shows the fierce struggles and sit-down strikes that led to the unionization of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, and how the U.A.W. played a major role in underwriting the civil rights movement as well as that of Cesar Chavez and the farmworkers." — Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times

    "A touching homage to three working-class men who played an underappreciated role in every major social movement during 40 years of American history.” — Washington City Paper

    "Unabashedly truthful… a clarion call to all workers from whatever class they think they’re from to decide which side they’re on.” — Ron Verzuh, labor historian

    "A wonderful, historical study…I encourage everyone to see this. It’s a very important part of American history that was never told in school.” — KCUR

    "Technically superb, the film blends contemporary interviews, historical interviews and archival footage. The narration by Martin Sheen is clear; the script is straightforward and presents the good as well as questionable aspects of the brothers' actions.This is an ideal film for use in economic anthropology, culture of capitalism, and the anthropology of work courses . It would also be a fine addition in a visual anthropology course." - Anthropology Review Database

    "A moving, insightful and well put together documentary that anyone with an interest in history, civil rights and documentary filmmaking should see" - Static Mass Emporium

    "Highly Recommended. “Simply remarkable work that provides insight on both the national implications of the American labor movement from its inception, and the personal details of the lives of key players…Not to be understated is the film’s portrayal of the impacts of the Reuther brothers as crusaders for civil rights, racial equality, and arguably the formation of the 20th century American middle class.” — Educational Media Reviews Online

       Recommended. This well-researched deservedly celebrates the organization's positive impact on 20th-century". - Video Librarian

    "Filmmaker Reuther, grandson of Victor, has done an excellent job of providing here a concise overview of modern American labor and political history , mostly ignored and largely forgotten, through the lives of the Reuther brothers...This video is very highly recommended for adult collections concerned with U.S. and labor history." — Library Journal

    “Historians should find much value in Brothers on the Line . The caliber of interviewees is consistently first-rate.” — James I. Deutsch, Smithonian Institution, Journal of American History