Narrated by Martin Sheen, Brothers On The Line is an award-winning documentary feature exploring the extraordinary journey of the Reuther brothers — prolific union organizers who led an army of laborers into an epic struggle for social justice. At the height of the Great Depression, a new industrial revolution came to life in Michigan’s colossal car factories. Taking a stand against oppressive conditions, young autoworkers Walter, Roy, and Victor Reuther faced intimidation and physical violence from “security” agents in their effort to coordinate sit-down strikes, the most successful occurring at the General Motors facilities in Flint. Their bold rhetoric and actions challenged the mighty automakers, won unprecedented quality-of-life gains, gave a voice to the rank-and-file, and established the United Auto Workers as one of the most powerful unions in American history.
On his ascent to the UAW presidency, Walter Reuther is hailed as a skilled negotiator and orator, with his brothers as advisors on community, legislative, and international affairs. The White House frequently sought the brothers’ counsel. The UAW provided support to a burgeoning civil rights movement and farmworker campaigns, forging a deep alliance with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Cesar Chavez. Meanwhile, a web of adversaries — company officials, conservative politicians, and organized crime — are threatened by the incendiary Reuther brothers and determined to silence them. Shotgun blasts shattered calm nights as assassination attempts severely injured Walter and Victor and shook the family to its core. With increasing clout on the national stage and dissent within the UAW simmering, the trio faced heart-wrenching consequences at the crossroads of their loyalty to lawmakers and militant rank-and-file roots.
Directed by Victor Reuther's grandson Sasha, and featuring evocative archival footage, a pulsating soundtrack, as well as first-hand accounts from labor, management, and political personalities including one of the last interviews with Senator Ted Kennedy, Brothers On The Line is a stirring personal story of sacrifice, perseverance, triumph, and tragedy. The odyssey of the Reuther brothers resonates far beyond their era. It remains an influential and often controversial 40-year crusade that contributed to building a robust middle class while compelling American democracy to live up to its promise of equality.