‘Brothers On The Line’: New Documentary Explores Dramatic Fight for Worker’s Rights


I’ve always felt confident about the American history education I received in various public schools (my 12th-grade civics teacher Sharon Levin comes to mind). But after watching Sasha Reuther‘s riveting documentary Brothers on the Line, I realize that every education has a significant gap or two, and one of mine involved the fascinating and rich history of labor in America.

Mine eyes have been opened. Turns out, the Reuther brothers — Walter, Roy and Victor (Sasha’s grandfather) — are the too often-unsung heroes of the American labor movement, which soon became a model for workers on a global scale. As union organizers who understood the crucial links to both education and politics, they improved the lives of millions of Americans; as a result, they deserve more than a sliver of credit for creating a thriving 20th-century U.S. middle class.

But getting to the ‘good old days’ took real work. Starting out on the brutal automotive lines in pre- and post-Depression-era Detroit, the brothers became intrinsically linked with the rise of the United Auto Workers; over the ensuing decades, they led strikes and negotiations, and often marched alongside counterparts both in parallel unions and in the Civil Rights movement. Throughout the years, their strong beliefs sustained them, even when various assassination attempts threatened to silence their voices or, at the very least, dampen their resolve.

Despite Sasha’s family connection, Brothers on the Line is not a whitewash. Rather than sugarcoat the thorny issues he uncovered in his research, he exposes various criticisms and confronts them head-on. (Of particular fascination are Walter’s close and complicated relationships with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Lyndon B. Johnson.) The smooth narration of Martin Sheen — no stranger to unions, he — adds to the integrity.

Brothers on the Line is now available on digital platforms such as iTunes and Amazon. Trust me when I say this is a thrilling movie that does not feel like homework. Below, Sasha provides some insight into his filmmaking process.

Read the full interview:
Brothers On The Line: New Documentary Explores Dramatic Fight for Worker’s Rights