My favorite union movie, hands down, is Newsies, which also ranks pretty high on my list of favorite Disney musicals. The show is about the real life newsboys strike at the turn of the century. Among it’s many virtues: excellent choreo (the dancing is all energy and not fussy), a Teddy Roosevelt cameo, Christian Bale not gargling gravel, a great message, and an almost invisible romance because this is a movie about friendship and solidarity. (The Broadway staging amped up the romance, unfortunately, and made the dances a little too polished and balletic).
This is probably my favorite song from the film:
But if you’d like a song that’s a little more soteriologically focused, and, I guess, more germane to this blog, perhaps you’ll fancy “Casey Jones, Union Scab.”
By the midpoint of the song, here’s what’s happening:
When Casey Jones got up to heaven to the Pearly Gate,
He said: “I’m Casey Jones, the guy that pulled the S. P. freight.”
“You’re just the man,” said Peter, “our musicians went on strike;
You can get a job a-scabbing any time you like.”
Casey Jones got a job in heaven;
Casey Jones was doing mighty fine;
Casey Jones went scabbing on the angels,
Just like he did to workers on the S. P. line.
You’ll have to listen to Pete Seeger to see how it ends.