Labor Day, a Crappy Infomercial Partly Funded by Its Subject


I’d call Glenn Silber’s Labor Day a well-intentioned but dull, video-ugly documentary if it weren’t partly financed by its subject, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); that just makes it a crappy infomercial. Theoretically, Labor Day is meant to inspire the ranks by showing how the two-million-plus organization was the tipping point in electing Barack Obama, but in practice, it’s missing an argument. There are a few outside voices to confirm the SEIU’s role in securing Democratic votes—Newsweek‘s Jonathan Alter and Time‘s Karen Tumulty—but it’s mostly just top brass and members, all breathlessly enthusiastic about getting out the vote. Never is it established that the SEIU singlehandedly tipped the election; it’s largely an article of faith. The doc has one solid case to make: that an SEIU meeting explicitly conducted to discuss each candidate’s health care reform plan forced all candidates to go on the record early in the election cycle. But mostly, we get a lot of generic inspirational music and nonspecific rhetoric about taking back the country. One singular moment: Rage Against the Machine muckraker Tom Morello leading a free show crowd in a hopping up-and-down “This Land Is Your Land.” The rest is strictly members-only viewing.