American Factory

Labor Movements In The U.S.

Feb 14, 2020
Tony Vacca stands in solidarity with GM workers currently on strike outside of the Parma plant on Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2019.
Carter Adams / WKSU

Labor union membership in the U.S. hit a record low in 2018, when just over one in 10 American workers were card-carrying members.

 Jeff Reichert, from left, Julia Reichert, and Steven Bognar, winners of the award for best documentary feature for "American Factory", pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Jordan Strauss / Invision/AP

The Netflix film about the Dayton auto glass plant run by a Chinese company was honored with The Oscar for best feature-length documentary.

In 2008, GM closed its manufacturing plant in Dayton, Ohio, sending the community into a tailspin. Workers who had been unionized at GM struggled to find jobs that paid close to the wages the plant had paid.

"After that GM plant closed, things were so hard for so long," Ohio-based filmmaker Steven Bognar says. "People lost their homes. The jobs you could get were at the Kohl's distribution center or Payless Shoes warehouse distribution center or fast food. People were making $9 an hour."

The latest documentary from Yellow Springs filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar has been nominated for an Academy Award.

The film American Factory follows the rebirth and transformation of the former General Motors Assembly plant in Moraine into Chinese-owned Fuyao Glass America.