Unstoppable is more than a Hollywood thriller

by American Rights at Work

Unstoppable” hit theaters last week and while it was no secret that stars like Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, and Rosario Dawson would save the day, the film treats audiences to an unpredictable plot twist. Spoiler alert:… the heroes are actually blue-collar union members.

The movie is a Hollywood adaptation of a real crisis—a runaway CSX train loaded with hazardous materials that brought northwest Ohio to the brink of disaster in 2001—and viewers will no doubt be entertained by the dramatization and amped up action scenes. But the film also depicts a number of patently real challenges that working Americans face everyday. Company executives put profits over public safety, choosing not to derail the runaway train due to cost and the potential impact on stock prices. As a result, it’s up to the workers themselves, members of the United Transportation Union (UTU), to get the runaway train under control. And that’s just what they do.

The  blockbuster immortalizes a true American story. Every day, all over the country, hardworking women and men roll up their sleeves, go to work, and do what it takes to keep our communities safe and our country moving forward. And yet America’s workers are under constant assault from corporate interests that value the bottom line above all else.

The newly-elected friends of Big Business are gearing up to cut unemployment benefits, slash pay for public workers, privatize Social Security, and roll back workers’ right to form a union free from intimidation. In the context of that political reality, “Unstoppable” serves as a timely reminder of the critical role workers and their unions play—whether that’s serving as a check against corporate greed, ensuring public safety for all Americans, or giving ordinary nine-to-fivers a voice in the workplace.

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