The Hand That Feeds
Saturday, October 17, 3:30 pm, University Christian Church
By suggested donation of $5
Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick, 84 min, USA
At a popular bakery café, residents of New York’s Upper East Side get bagels and coffee served with a smile 24 hours a day. But behind the scenes, undocumented immigrant workers face sub-legal wages, dangerous machinery, and abusive managers who will fire them for calling in sick. Mild-mannered sandwich maker Mahoma López has never been interested in politics, but in January 2012, he convinces a small group of his co-workers to fight back.
Risking deportation and the loss of their livelihood, the workers team up with a diverse crew of innovative young organizers and take the unusual step of forming their own independent union, launching themselves on a journey that will test the limits of their resolve. In one roller-coaster year, they must overcome a shocking betrayal and a two-month lockout. Lawyers will battle in back rooms, Occupy Wall Street protesters will take over the restaurant, and a picket line will divide the neighborhood. If they can win a contract, it will set a historic precedent for low-wage workers across the country. But whatever happens, Mahoma and his coworkers will never be exploited again.
This insightful and detailed look into the challenges of low-wage worker organizing is a powerful tool for sparking reflection and dialogue on issues of immigration, labor, and solidarity. The honesty of all the individuals highlighted in the film allows viewers to get a deeply personal view into the struggles and benefits of organizing for dignity and respect in the workplace, on the streets, and at home.