Film Screening & Discussion "Local 1196: A Steelworkers Strike"
March 8, 2022
The NYU Brademas Center and the Bertelsmann Foundation co-hosted a film screening and post-film discussion of the new Bertelsmann Foundation documentary, Local 1196: A Steelworkers Strike.
“The old American dream just seems to be gone,” says Walt Hill, a longtime United Steelworkers Union member and the Contract Coordinator for Local 1196 in the decaying steel town of Brackenridge, Pennsylvania.
In March of 2021, the steelworkers of USW 1196 struck, citing unfair labor practices. Over the next four months, “Local 1196” follows from late night conversations on the picket lines, to fiery debates at the union hall, to the living rooms of the members, themselves. Taken together, this Bertelsmann Foundation film directed by Samuel George gives unique insight and access into the daily struggles of America’s blue-collar workers.
Local 1196 takes the viewer on the ground as days on strike turn to weeks, weeks turn to months, and union leaders realize they’re playing with a short stack, and against long odds. As Walt puts it in the film, “I think that this fight shows that, at least here, we’re fighting back.”
The post-film panel included Todd Barbiaux, Former President of USW Local 1196 and Cynthia Estlund, Catherine A. Rein Professor of Law at NYU Law. The discussion was moderated by Samuel George.
This webinar was open to everyone. Registration was required in order to receive the Zoom log-in details. Please note the program discussion was recorded.
Todd Barbiaux, Former President of USW Local 1196
Todd Barbiaux worked at the steel mill in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania for 33 years, starting on the production line before moving to operating a hot ladle crane. An active union man, Todd served six terms on the executive board of the local division of the United Steelworkers union, Local 1996. Todd served as Vice Present of Local 1196 during an 7-month lockout in 2015, and served as President during the 2021 strike filmed in the documentary “Local 1196”. He is from a family of steelworkers, joining is father and brother who also worked in the same mill.
Samuel George, Global Markets and Digital Advisor, Bertelsmann Foundation; Director, "Go-Go City: Displacement & Protest in Washington, DC," "Out to Vote: A Story of Redemption, A Story of Democracy," "Local 1196: A Steelworkers Strike"
Samuel George is the Bertelsmann Foundation’s Global Markets and Digital Advisor. Since joining Bertelsmann Foundation in 2012, his work has focused on economics, politics, the digital revolution, and daily life with a specific emphasis on where these issues intersect.
His multimedia approach features documentary film, animated video, and written analysis. Samuel’s documentaries bring viewers up close and personal to people and communities facing the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, offering candid perspectives that allow viewers to draw their own conclusions. Samuel’s written work has also sought to highlight global crossroads. His publications investigate the global impact of the digital revolution, arguing that a successful digital transition requires an inclusive conversation. This work builds upon previous research that contextualized trends in emerging markets, while underscoring the importance of international economics to the transatlantic community.
Samuel is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and holds a master’s degree in international politics and economics from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington. He is currently completing a PhD at that same institution.
Cynthia Estlund, Catherine A. Rein Professor, NYU Law
Cynthia Estlund is the Catherine A. Rein Professor at the New York University School of Law. Her most recent book is Automation Anxiety: Why and How to Save Work (Oxford U. Press, 2021). She has published widely on the law and regulation of work, including three earlier books: A New Deal for China’s Workers? (Harvard, 2017); Regoverning the Workplace: From Self-Regulation to Co-Regulation (Yale, 2010); and Working Together: How Workplace Bonds Strengthen a Diverse Democracy (Oxford, 2003). She has also produced two co- edited volumes and over seventy articles, book chapters, reviews, and essays on a range of topics in collective labor law, employment law, workers’ rights, and workplace governance. Before coming to NYU she taught at the University of Texas School of Law and Columbia Law School.