‘Norma Rae’: Why Workers Join Unions


In honor of Labor Day, we are pleased to present an article from the Journal of Management Education that describes how business educators can use the classic film Norma Rae to teach labor relations:

Undergraduate business students in North America are often unfamiliar with the labor organizing process and frequently fail to identify with the reasons why workers join unions. This article suggests a discussion exercise based on the 1979 film, Norma Rae, by 20th Century Fox, as an effective tool for familiarizing students with fundamental topics in labor relations such as the union organizing process, union avoidance strategies, and unfair labor practices. In addition, the film and the discussion-based exercise can be used to help students further explore the sources of individual attitudesJME_72ppiRGB_150pixW toward unions, union instrumentality perceptions, union voting intentions, and contemporary issues in private sector labor relations. Collected data show positive responses from students who viewed the movie and participated in the discussion-based exercise. Suggestions are offered for using the film and the discussion-based exercise in the classroom to engage students in the study of labor relations.

The paper, “Teaching Labor Relations With Norma Rae” by Vicki Fairbanks Taylor of Shippensburg University and Michael J. Provitera of Barry University, is available online in the Journal of Management Education.

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