H2 Worker (educational)

  • Directed by: Stephanie Black
  • Produced by: Stephanie Black
Released: 1990
Running Time: 70 min


H-2 WORKER is a controversial exposé of the travesty of justice that takes place around the shores of Florida's Lake Okeechobee—a situation which, until the film's release, has been one of America's best-kept secrets. For six months a year, over 10,000 men from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands perform the brutal task of cutting sugar cane by hand, a job so dangerous and low-paying that Americans refuse to do it. These men live and work in conditions reminiscent of the days of slavery on sugar plantations: housed in overcrowded barracks, poorly fed, denied adequate treatment for their frequent on-the-job injuries, paid less than minimum wage, and deported if they do not do exactly as they are told. The scandal of the H-2 program has existed for over 45 years, largely kept out of the public eye, and the sugar companies and their government supporters have escaped accountability. H-2 WORKER is the first documentary to tell the story of these men—named for their special temporary guestwork "H-2" visas.

Available for the first time ever, this DVD includes an 18 minute video update made in 2009 about the present expansion of H-2A and H-2B guestworker programs in the U.S.

Awards

  • Grand Jury Prize Best Documentary, Sundance Film Festival (1990)
  • Best Cinematography, Sundance Film Festival (1990)

Quotes

    "'H-2 Worker' is that rare hybrid that succeeds as both film and advocacy. The documentary's look and form is smooth and sophisticated ... [and] it solidly frames issues about the economy, employment and the treatment of workers who seem just steps away from slavery." —The New York Times

    "With admirable fluency, Black combines straightforward information and analysis with more evocative glimpses of the workers' lives.... Black and her collaborators have an unsentimental conviction that these workers are fully human, that they experience not just anger and suffering but also love and pleasure - and even hope."
    —The Nation