Labor-management pop culture bleg:

Scenario: Workers are trying to do something collectively against their boss -- for example, get him to agree to some policy that benefits them -- but they have no union. They try to keep each other in line (prevent each other from working, induce each other to contribute money) by using informal sanctions, like ostracism or violence.

Is there some famous book or movie or other cultural text that deals with this?

Anderson (mail) (www):
You mean, besides 9 to 5?
10.19.2006 6:41pm
liberty (mail) (www):
Eisenstein's Strike is a classic that depicts un-unionized workers coming together. Or did you not want a pure propaganda film?
10.19.2006 6:43pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
Animal Farm
10.19.2006 7:07pm
I don't know if these quite fit, but they are considered to be classic movies about unions:
Harlan County, USA
10.19.2006 7:22pm
ras (mail):
Mutiny On The Bounty comes to mind.
10.19.2006 8:49pm
ras (mail):
One might also recall that Cap'n Bligh was, by the standards of his time, a very lenient captain: he used the lash relatively sparingly (according to official records and as opposed to the Hollywood stereotype of him), he stayed overly long in tropical paradise, and he was quicker to loan money to his crew than most. IIRC, a majority of the mutineers - or at least, of their leadership - owed him, too.

Caveat: the above is from memory so you might wanna verify it first if it interests you.
10.19.2006 8:54pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
I haven't seen Matewan in a long time, but it's one of my favorite movies. That's probably good.

Off-blog, someone has suggested Newsies.

As for Eisenstein's Strike, I don't care about the propaganda value, but unfortunately I want it to be recognizable to my readers; still, I may give it a look-see.

How are Animal Farm, 9 to 5, or Mutiny on the Bounty relevant?
10.19.2006 11:17pm
AppSocRes (mail):
How about King Rat by James Clavell: The workers are allied POWs in WW II. the bosses Japanese guards.
10.19.2006 11:25pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Please, if you suggest something, tell me what's the non-unionized struggle, and what instance of informal worker-on-worker pressure you recall from there.

AppSocRes, how is King Rat relevant?
10.19.2006 11:34pm
Kristian Holvoet (mail):
Bridge over the River Kwai? Though, the strike was only enforced by miltary discipline. Of course, the military status of the prisnors could resonably be consisdered a union of sorts. But when the conditions improved, the workers did in dact work quite well (too, well).
10.20.2006 12:08am
Ross Levatter (mail):
Atlas Shrugged comes to mind. Francisco, Galt, Midas, and others are the workers--working with their minds and entrepreneurial judgment as well as their physical skills and energy--trying to get Rearden, Dagny, and other workers to go along with them against their "bosses," the politicians who tax and regulate them. They can't enforce any rules autocratically. They use informal sanctions like refusing to interact with other "workers" who refuse to go along with their plan.

Or perhaps I'm not understanding Sasha's point? :-)
10.20.2006 1:54am
Mike Jenkins (mail):
Steinbeck's In Dubious Battle: Migrant apple pickers in California in the 30's strike to try to get an increase in their piecemeal rate. It's been a while but if I remember correctly, the climax of the book is a battle with replacement workers brought in by the growers. One of the main characters is killed in the ensuing battle.
10.20.2006 2:08am
NickM (mail) (www):
How about Spartacus?

10.20.2006 3:20am
If you are open to foreign language fims, do check DAENS. It's a classic story of 19th Century factory workers trying to get a struggle for better working conditions organized, first failing then succeeding. Don't be surprised if it is, shall we say, one-sided.

It is very famous in Belgium though I realize that will not much impress you.

It was nominated for an Oscar in 1994, for best foreign languague fim.

Here's the Wikipedia entry:
10.20.2006 4:57am
A.B. (mail):
It's not a movie, but you might want to look at E.P. Thompson's stuff on rough music. There is a chapter on it in Customs in Common, and I think he discusses it elswhere.

Blog-summary here
10.20.2006 11:54am
There is Captain Swing (Hobsbawm and Rude) on the agricultural riots, but that is getting pretty far from popular culture. I read it a long time ago, but I think the Swing rioters used sanctions to keep coherent.
10.20.2006 6:21pm
How about Serpico?
10.20.2006 8:29pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
On the Water Front
10.22.2006 10:33am