Norma Rae (1979) Script

Ain't no miracle being born People doing it every day Ain't no miracle growing up People just grow that way So it goes like it goes Like the river flows And time, it rolls right on And maybe what's good Gets a little bit better And maybe what's bad gets gone

Bless the child of a working man She knows too soon who she is And bless the hands of a working man He knows his soul is his So it goes like it goes Like the river flows And time, it rolls right on And maybe what's good Gets a little bit better

And maybe what's bad gets gone

Yeah, it goes like it goes Like the river flows And time keeps rolling on And maybe what's good Gets a little bit better And maybe what's bad Gets gone

That's all you're eating for lunch? An apple?

I'm dieting.

I got to keep my strength up.

I put these preserves up myself.

Sunday, Russell and I put up over 60 quarts of peaches.

What did you do over the weekend, Norma?

I soaked my feet.

I saw you in town Sunday.

Your friend drives a mighty big car.

Well, if you'd looked on the motel register, you'd seen my name there, too.

It's none of my business.

Mama, you haven't opened up your sack yet.

Mama, aren't you hungry?


Mama, you feeling all right?


Mama, can you hear me?



Mama, come on. Come on now, Mama. Come on.

She didn't hear one word I said, and she doesn't hear you right now.

Now, you know that happens, Norma Rae.

Well, it doesn't happen to my mama!

It'll pass off. It's just temporary.

That makes it OK? She's only deaf for one or two hours.

She's only deaf all day!

She can get herself another job.

What other job in this town? This is the only job.

I'll give her a note.

They'll send her home.

Come on, Mama.

They don't care anything about you.

You all right out there?

I'm fine!

You're gonna get all bitten up.

I'll be in! Just a minute!

Well ...

I'm gonna let this pot soak.

There's one soaking from breakfast.

Now it's got company.

Hiya, kids.

10 more minutes of this junk, then I want you to do your homework.

I did it.

You did it? Yeah.

Unsatisfactory in your lettering, unsatisfactory in your reading, and your numbers aren't too good.

You haven't been doing too much homework.

Shh! I don't wanna hear. Oh, shush! I'll shush you.

What are you getting fixed up for?

I'm going into town.

What do you need in town?


OK. I'll drive you in.

You got Bonanza on next.

Oh, no. I'm gonna miss that. It's the same thing every week anyhow.

I'm going to J.C. Penney's, buy myself some panties and a white cotton brassiere, size 32-B.

If you wanna come along and sit on the little stool outside the dressing room and have all the ladies look at you, then come on.

No, ma'am. I don't care to do that.

You coming straight back?


After that, I'm going to the drugstore, buy myself some Kotex pads and a Cosmopolitan magazine.

Mm-hm. Then you coming home?

Yeah. After that, I'll be so tired out from all the excitement, I'll be coming home.


Mr. Wichard?

That's right. Vernon Wichard.

Who are you?

My name is Reuben Warshovsky.

Warshovsky. What kind of name is that?

The kind you have to spell for telephone operators and headwaiters.

What do you want?

I'd like to get me a room with a mill family.

What for? We got a hotel, 12 rooms, got a motel, 36 rooms.

I wanna get to know some mill hands close up.

Why is that?

I'll tell you, Mr. Wichard.

I just got into town about an hour ago.

Hi. How are you?

I parked my rented car, I got out, and before I had a chance to adjust my crotch, the chief of police was on me saying, "Who are you?

I don't know you. What the hell are you doing here?"

So I told him I was a labor organizer.

I've come to put a union in the O.P. Henley Textile Mill.

And he said, "The hell you are, boy!" And he gave me a ticket and told me to get my ass elsewhere right quick.

He was dead right, too.

As far as I'm concerned, all of you people are Communists, agitators, crooks, or Jews or all four rolled together.

Every time you people come into a town, the folks get throwed out of their jobs, get their heads busted in ...

Excuse me, sir. Do you mind if I ask you a question?

How much do you make an hour?

I make $1.33 a frame.

And when did you have your last cost-of-living raise?

I haven't had that.

With all due respect, Mr. Wichard, with today's inflation, that makes you a bit of a schlemiel.

You calling me some kind of a name?

You're underpaid. You're overworked.

They're shafting you right up to your tonsils.

You need me, sir.

I think maybe if you run real fast, you're gonna get back to your car before my dog bites you.

What do you tell him that for? We ain't even got a dog.

You don't need one.

Hey. How you doing?

Do you have any vacancies?


Thank you.



Very friendly little town you got here.

So far I've been told to shove off, get off, and go away.

Oh, it's OK.

Make sure that you spray your room for roaches.

You got roaches down here?

I'm very familiar with roaches.

Do you have a room with a view?

You got the back alley or the parking lot.


Back alley or parking lot?

Give him 31, Alston.

Can't hear the drunks from in there.

I'll be back this way next Wednesday after dinner.

I'm having dinner with my wife's folks.

Tonight was the last time, George.

You don't say, Norma Rae.

Well, now, isn't that a surprising turn?

No. Been coming on for some time.

You know something funny?

I didn't notice it.

I mean, didn't you get your steak dinner?

Didn't you get your box of pralines?

Didn't you come three times in a row in that bed over there?

I wasn't counting.

Well, well, well.

Looks like I don't know what it takes to satisfy you these days, does it?

It just doesn't sit well with me anymore, George.

I mean, you got your wife, got your two kids in high school.

There's a lot of gossip.

I got my two kids.

I don't know.

It just doesn't make me feel good.

You're here to make me feel good.

I'm not trotting down here anymore.

Why, you hick.

You got dirt under your fingernails.

You pick your teeth with a matchbook. I've seen your shit.

What the hell are you good for, anyway?

You come outta that factory, you wash under your armpits, you come on down here and spread your legs for a poke, and then you go on home, and you're dumping me?

I heard a hell of a thump.

That? That was me, getting throwed across the room.

Come here. I have some ice for that. Come on.

Sit down. Please.

You look all shook up.

Here, put this on.

I thought everybody down South was Ashley Wilkes.

You lie down with dogs, you get fleas.

Well, does this look broken to you?

Go like this.

No, I don't think so.

Do you want an aspirin?

No, thanks.

Band-Aid? Valium?

You're a whole drugstore.

I'm a mild hypochondriac.

Keep that on it.


Me and men.

I ought to learn to say no right from the start.

But if it wasn't men, I don't know what it would be.

You got a lot of books.

I'm terrified I’m gonna wake up in a motel room one morning and have nothing to read but the phone book.

She got big eyes.

Yeah, got a big brain, too.

What's her name?

Dorothy Finkelstein.

She's a hotshot labor lawyer out of Harvard.

Well, she must be your girlfriend if you haul her picture around wherever you go.

I don't know. We sleep together on Sunday mornings and then we read The New York Times.

And I guess that makes her my girlfriend.


I'm Norma Rae Wilson. Reuben Warshovsky.

Nice meeting you.

My pleasure. Keep that on your nose.

I'm real sorry about my daddy. He got a short fuse.

Well, my credentials keep me out of a lot of places.

But I tell you, every once in a while, someone opens up their door to me, puts me in their best bedroom and treats me just like I was a cousin.

Ha ha ha! What?

That sure as heck wouldn't be my daddy!

You a Jew?

I beg your pardon?

Are you a Jew?

Born and bred.

I never met a Jew before.

How you doing?

I heard you all had horns.

Circumcised, yes. Horns, no.

Well, as far as I can see, you don't look any different from the rest of us.

Well, we are.

You are?

Well, what makes you different?



You got it now?

Hey, it looks better.

I think it stopped.

Thanks a lot for the ice.


Christ, I hope not.

Good morning.

I'm from the Textile Workers' Union of America.

Read this when you have a chance, on your break.

Thank you. Good morning.

Read this when you have a chance, please.

Thank you.

Here you go.

Good morning.

Read this when you get home and have a chance.

I'm from the Textile Workers' Union of America.

Read this when you have a chance.

Read this on your break, please.

Wanna read this when you have a chance, please?

Good morning. I'm from the Textile Workers' Union of America.

You wanna read this when you have a chance on your break?

Good morning.

You wanna read this when you get home, please?

Good morning. I'm with the Textile Workers' Union of America.

Read this on your break. When you have a chance, thank you.

Good morning!

How's your nose?

Read that on your break, please.

Hey! There's too many big words.

If I don't understand it, they ain't gonna understand it.

That fellow a friend of yours, Norma?

Looks like he's getting to be.

Better hurry for it, or you'll be late. I don't care if I don't get there till tomorrow.

If you have questions, I'm at the Golden Cherry Motel, room 31. Read this on your break.

OK, don't be late for work, now, folks. Good morning to you. Thank you.

Good morning.

All right, lady wants to go to work.

I'll catch you later.

Well ...

One of you guys shows up about every four years, about the same time we get the locusts.

What's your name?

My name? Yeah.

My name's Jimmy Jerome Davis.

Well, Jimmy Jerome, we already got six of your boss men in civil contempt.

Would you care to make it seven?

Why, hell, we plaster the toilets with them things.

Wanna read this on your break?


I already told him I wouldn't go out to dinner with him. What's he want now?

Maybe he wants to make it breakfast, Norma Rae.

Whatever it is, I didn't do it.

Norma, you got the biggest mouth in this mill.

"Give us a longer break, give us more smoking time.

Give us a Kotex pad machine."

Do it, and I'll shut up.

Well, we'll do better than that.

We think the only way to close that mouth is to hand you a promotion.

You're going up in the world, honey.

Yeah? How far for how much?

Well, we're gonna put you on spot-checking.

Well, hell, it sure ain't gonna make me any friends.

It'll make you another $1.50 an hour.

How am I doing, little girl?

You doing good, Daddy.

I think you better try to speed it up some, if you can.

I'm going as fast as I can.


Well, they're watching me.

They're watching you.

Well, what, I guess you're sore at me?

I don't think you should push your own daddy.

It's more money, Daddy. I need it for my kids.

Well, I don't need it from my kid.

Millie! Craig!

What are you doing in Grandma's marigolds? You know she's gonna kill you. Come on.

Craig! Get up from there. Look at you!

I don't wanna.

Well, you do it anyway! Look at your behind!

It's filthy-dirty. So full of dirt.

I asked you to watch him.

Criminy! I cleaned you up once!

Come on! Right in here now.

That's it.

Come on, Steve! Come on, Steve!

Come on!

All right! They made it!

He's got an arm on him!


Hey, you want something?

Yeah, this is awful.

Get me a hot dog, lots of relish.

Woo! All right!

Hi. Can I have a hot dog, please?


Thank you.

Hi, Wilma. Can I have two dogs?

OK. Just a minute.

Hi. How you doing?

You enjoying the game?

Oh, yeah. I love the shortstop. Guy really goes right into the hole.

I know. That's J.C. McAllister. Scouts are down here looking at him.

What's the matter? You don't like it?

This is not Nathan's. I don't even think this is a hot dog.

What the hell they put in this thing?

Lot of red dye and other things you don't wanna know about.

Excuse me a minute.

Hello, Norma.

Hey, Ellis.

You're looking fine.

I'm always fine. I'm a horse.

You changed your hair.

It grew.

How's Craig?

He lost a tooth.

You know, it wouldn't hurt if you came by to see him every now and then.

I don't believe I can do that, Norma.

Well, suit yourself. You always have.

Give me a Coke, will you, please?

You want a Coke?


Two, please.

Thank you. Here, this is for hers.

All right.

Keep the change.

Here you go.

I climbed into the backseat of his Cadillac one rainy night six years ago, stuck my feet out the back window, and got myself my little Craig off that Southern gentleman.

He ain't done nothin' worthwhile since.

Did you get married?

He didn't bother. I didn't bother.

My first affair, as I recollect it, was with my Hungarian piano teacher.

I was playing Smetana.

She put her head in my lap.

I tell you, I played the hell out of that.

Next thing I knew, we were in her bedroom.

Underneath a Russian icon, and her husband came home and found us.

The poor guy burst into tears.

I felt so bad, I went up to him, I put my arms around him, I said, "Hey, man, I'm sorry, I'm really sorry," and we all went into the kitchen and had a glass of tea.

I guess it seems like every time you run into me I'm hassling with some other guy.

That's what it seems like.

What do you think of me, I wonder?

I think you're too smart for what's happening to you.

Come on, lady, I'm over here now.

I got the jump on you!

Come on, lady. Come on, come on, come on, come on!

Mark me down. Mark me down.

I'm over here now, lady!

Come on!

I'm over here.

Hey, lady! Come on!

What you waiting for, girl?

I'm over here now. Come on!

Come on, lady.

I'm over here now.

Come on, lady. Come on.

You damn fool!

You're gonna get us both to lose our jobs!

I'll get it.


I won't trouble you.

I just came to apologize.

I know I could have lost you your job today.

You sure went crazy on me.

I know.

I got handed divorce papers this morning.

I guess I went off my head.


things can get to you.

Would you come and have a drink with me?

Just to make up for the ruckus and all the bother I put you to?

I'm Sonny Webster.

You used to come in my mama's bakery.

Sonny Webster? Yeah.

Sonny Webster! I remember you.

You used to stand behind the cash register and gave everybody the wrong change.

I never was too good at math.

You're telling me!

Sonny Webster! Golly!

How about that drink?


Just wait one minute, will you?

Who was that? I heard a man's voice.

Yep, you did. I'm going out with him.

Where did you meet him?

Just now, on the front porch.

Some Tom, Dick or Harry comes to the front door, and you got your hat on? No, sir.

Daddy, I'm over 21. Way over.

Let me say some names to you, Norma.

Buddy Wilson, Ellis Harper, George Benson, a U.S. sailor, a Trailways bus driver.

None of which is looking after you, as far as I can see. I got that spot.

It's my roof, my food.

There's something wrong with the way you try to keep men off me.

There is nothing wrong with a daddy's love for his little girl.

You oughta be grateful for your daddy's love.

You're loving me to death.

My needs are very much alive Is it OK if I stop by

It's all wrong, but it's all right It's all wrong, but it's all right Goddarn, that lady can sing.

And her words are so true.

I like Elvis myself.

I wish I could just make a whole lotta money by opening up my mouth and wailing.

That don't necessarily make them happy.

What does? What does? What does? What does?

Oh, I think a man and a woman is about your best chance.

You are a fine one to top. Didn't you tell me you got a gun?

You went skinning along on your belly underneath a bush and took a beat on your wife and you was able to blow her head off?

I was gonna burn them both down, her and her boyfriend, but I couldn't.

She was a real good person when we went to school together, you know?

Real nice person, but then a change had come over her.

It still really amazes me.


I'm a lot different from what I was.

I mean, you go through things.


Hey! Whoo!

New York! Hey, man! New York!

Hey, buddy! Hi!

Hey, come on over here!

Hey, we need anybody else?

The more the merrier.

Reuben! Golly!

Here you are with your papers and everything!

Come on over.

Come on, Reuben. Jeez!

How are you? Reuben, I want you to meet Sonny.

Sonny, this is Reuben Warbershowsky.

Close! Sonny, how are you?

Why don't you sit down there? Sit down, take a load off.

What are you doing here?

I'm working.

You working? Yes, ma'am.

This is a drinking place. Drunk or sober, I want 'em.

Can I pour you out one?

No, no, no, thank you. I'll just have some plain seltzer here.

You just drinking club soda, then? Is that it? That's it, I'm sorry.

Well, you're gonna feel a whole lot better than I will tomorrow morning.

Reuben is a union man. Thinks he's gonna put a union in the mill.

But there ain't never been one.

Then maybe its time has come.

Well, there better be more than one of you, 'cause there's more than one of them.

There will be.

The big companies get everything they want, you know? Everything goes to the rich man.

You getting tired of it?

Oh, when I do, I just wash it down with a beer, you see?

Hey, you know what?

You know, this song on the jukebox?

This was the song I remember it was on the radio the night they called me up and they told me my husband had been killed in a fight in a beer joint.

Hey, I knew Buddy Wilson, in high school.

You did? Yeah, we had woodshop together.

You did? Yeah.

Yeah. Goll!

He was drunk, and he got in a fight, and he broke a beer bottle.

And then this other guy, he had a broken beer bottle, too.

I remember I went down to the funeral parlor.

Cause I wanted to see him, you know?

And this old guy, he comes out and he says that he didn't think it'd be a good idea if I'd see Buddy

'cause he wasn't "prepared" yet.

I don't know, I just ...

I really just wanted to see him and my daddy wouldn't let me.

Well, that were the end of Buddy.

Far as that goes.

I'm gonna drive.

I'll drive.

What do you mean, you drive? You're drunk.

So are you.

I think I'll drive.

No, no, no, gang. Here we go.

This way.

I went out with one man and I'm coming home with two.

Now, that sure as heck is gonna surprise the hell out of my daddy.

He sure keeps a close watch on you, doesn't he?

Yeah. We're close.

I remember he used to drive 250 miles to take me down to Crescent Beach.

He used to buy me a chicken dinner and take me swimming and tell me jokes.

And we used to sleep in the back of the car, you know?

We'd wake up that morning, we'd walk out on the sand and it was all wet and everything.

He bought me this ring I wear all the time.

Reuben, would you pull the car over?

I think I'm gonna be sick.

Hang on.

Easy, easy.

You OK?

Come on.

I'd help you, Norma, but I think I'd give it up, too.

There we are. Now, that was real ladylike of me.

That’s all right. I did bedpans one summer at Stuyvesant Hospital.

One of these days, I will get myself all together.

Well, make it soon.

Because one of these days, I'm gonna start in on you.

Thank you. Read this when you have a chance, please.

I took your advice. Got it down to two syllables.

One's better.

Good morning. Good morning.

Read this when you have a chance, please.

Good morning, Norma Rae.

Hey, Lucius.

Morning, Lynette.


Hey, Billy Joe.

What the hell is going on around here?

I'm talking to you!


Well, shit!

Nobody out there's talking to me.

Less talk, more work.

Yeah, but they're my friends. And they're gonna stay my friends.

I'm quitting. I'm quitting right here and I'm quitting right now.

You're speeding them up so you can weed them out.

You knew all that.

Yeah. Well, I was greedy, and I was dumb.

And I'm sorry so you can just go ahead and fire me.

No, we won't do that. We'll put you back to work in the weaving room, Norma.

Your family's been with this mill a long time.

Good morning!




We're all ready.

All of you?

All three of us.

Well, then, everybody hop in.

OK. Millie, you can climb in yourself.

OK, now, be careful. Don't fall down.

What's your name, big guy?


Right. That there's Craig, and this is Mil-... Craig, I want you to put your feet on the floor!


Bye, Mama.

Bye, Grandma!

I wanna sit up front. Well, you can't.

Are we there yet?

No, we're not there yet, you silly willy. Goodness sakes.

We just started off.

I thought we were going to the lake.

We are. I got to make a stop first.

You should have done that before we got in the car.

This is Alice.

She's mine.

Well, like I always say, the more the merrier.

OK, you're gonna watch what you're doing now?

Next time, you get up there yourself.

You're sure easy with your kids.

I yell at 'em.

I swat 'em.

You're a pretty woman.

I was good at 18, but things have kinda slipped and slid.

You look all right to me.

Keep the lights down low, I'm all right.

Well, I'll take you where it's dark.

I've been there.

I don't owe a nickel in this town.

I'll eat anything that's put down in front of me.

I can fix anything electrical.

I'm all right after my first cup of coffee.

I want that bad, though.

I got me a new job at the gas station.

I turn my paycheck over the minute I get it, that's every Friday, and I come straight home from work, and I stay there.

I got me and Alice, we're alone.

You got your two kids.

You're alone.

If you could help me, maybe I could help you.

It's been a long time between offers.

Kiss me.

If that's all right, then everything else will be.

And now, by the authority vested in me by this sovereign state, I pronounce you man and wife.

If you like, you may kiss the bride.

Mother over here has a little homemade wine for us.

I picked the berries myself last summer.

Thank you, ma'am.

Thank you.

To my wife, Norma Rae.

And, uh ...

I just hope I can keep up with her.

Roscoe said I shouldn't go, but I think I'm gonna.

I'm not asking anybody. I'm going.

On October 8, 1970, my grandfather, Isaac Abraham Warshovsky, age 87, died in his sleep in New York City.

On the following Friday morning, his funeral was held.

My mother and father attended, my two uncles from Brooklyn attended, and my Aunt Minnie came up from Florida.

Also present were 862 members of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers and the Cloth, Hat, and Cap Makers' Union of America.

Also members of his family.

In death, as in life, they stood at his side.

They had fought battles with him, had bound the wounds of battle with him, had earned bread together, and had broken it together.

When they spoke, they spoke in one voice, and they were heard.

And they were black, and they were white.

And they were Irish, and they were Polish.

And they were Catholic, and they were Jews.

And they were one.

That's what a union is, one.

Ladies and gentlemen, the textile industry, in which you are spending your lives and your substance, and in which your children and their children will spend their lives and their substance, is the only industry in the whole length and breadth of these United States of America that is not unionized.

Therefore, they are free to exploit you, to lie to you, to cheat you and to take away from you what is rightfully yours.

Your health, a decent wage, a fit place to work.

I would urge you to stop them by coming over to room 31 at the Golden Cherry Motel to pick up a union card and sign it.

Yes, it comes from the Bible.

"According to the tribes of your fathers, ye shall inherit."

But it comes from Reuben Warshovsky, "Not unless you make it happen."

Thank you.

Thank you, Reverend.

Appreciate it.

Everybody should have come. They should have heard you.

Next time.

Uh-huh, if I have to drag them.

Hey. You preach real good.

When are you gonna join up?

Me? Who's got the time?

Make the time. Sleep less. Cause if I don't get some help soon, I'm outta here and you got nothing.

Hey, I appreciate any help that you can possibly give me.

Licking stamps, stuffing envelopes, typing with two fingers, anything.

I'll show up. Thanks.

I'm here.

I'm ready to inspect your plant.

The federal government of the United States, brothers, in accordance with federal court order No. 7778, states the following. "The union has the right to inspect every bulletin board in the mills at least once a week to verify in person that its notices are not being stripped off."

Do you have a trash can?


Keep America beautiful.


Thank you!



Am I moving too quick for you or something?

I did my running when I was in the army.

I'm not in the army now, brother.

Well, if you're out of shape, I'll slow down a little bit.

Appreciate it.

Keep it to a basic saunter.

Good morning!

I'm Reuben Warshovsky of the Textile Workers' Union of America!

What is your name, brother?

Buffum. Mr. Buffum?

How long have you worked here, sir?

Twelve years.

Do you like your job?

I'd like to keep it. Yes, sir.

Warshovsky! You're interfering with the work.

Court order says you can't do that.

Well, then, brother, let us both keep to the letter of the law.

I ain't got no kike brother.

I don't think you meant to use that word.

I meant it. You did, huh?

Well, shit, now we're gonna have to start and get into a fight, huh?

Come on, the bulletin board's over here.

"Bulletin board's over here!"

Good morning.

Somebody's looking to get into a car pool.

Somebody wants to sell a basset pup.

And you can pick pecans for 40 cents a bushel at Selma Landing. Isn't that terrific?

The only thing missing is my notice.

It's there.

It is? I don't see it.

Ah, yes.

Wilt Chamberlain on stilts could read that thing, maybe.

Wanna bring it down to eye level, brothers, where everybody can read it?

We'll make note of your request.

Why do you guys pull this horseshit, eh?

I'll have to go to the phone, call my lawyers and get 'em on your ass.

That's childish!

Where's the pay phone and who's got two nickels?


Rick, bring it down.

Eye. Eye level.


You ain't supposed to read the damn thing.

No union organizer, not even a known union member, has been inside the fences or walls of this factory for more than 10 years. I'm reading it.

Well, read fast, then.

All right, tell you what. While I'm reading this, you go read the court order that says any agent of this company can be held in contempt.

You're messing with a contempt citation, sir.

If you're hot for jail, you just keep it up.

I ain't violating no laws!

You're violating the law now, baby!

Can we finish this?


Where's the other bulletin board?

In the weaving room.

You wanna show it to me? Yes. Hell, yes.


Good morning. How are you?

Good morning. Morning.

Good morning to you. Good morning.

I'm Warshovsky, Textile Workers' Union of America.

Good morning. Morning to you.

Good morning, ma'am.

Good morning.

Warshovsky, Textile Workers' Union of America.

Good morning. Good morning to you, ma'am.

Good morning.

I'm in room 31 of the Golden Cherry Motel if you have any questions. Thank you!

Good morning.

Good morning to you.

Good morning.


Gentlemen, your average working man is not stupid.

He just gets tired.

You wanna move this out of here, please?

Move it. Move the stuff.

Hey, Reuben?


You busy? Oh yeah.

Very busy.

Well, can I come in?


Jeez, don't they ever clean up around here?

I don't want them messing with my stuff.

I know where everything is.

If I joined up with you, would I lose my job?

No way.

You can wear a union button as big as a Frisbee when you go to work, you can talk union to any mill hands who wanna listen as long as it's during a break, you can take union pamphlets to the mill and pass them along.

There's not a goddamn thing they can do to touch you.

I was never a very good Girl Scout.

I'll go along with you.

You're the fish I wanted to hook.

Well ...

You got me.

So what the hell you gonna do with me?

Make a mensch out of you, kid.

You are? Mh-hm.

What is that?

Somebody who goes to the old folks' home on Saturday morning to visit instead of playing golf.

Somebody who puts a dollar in a blind man's cup for a pencil.

I'd do that. Uh-huh.

But would you take the pencil?

Course I would. I paid for it.

Hey, somewhere between logic and charity maybe there falls a little shadow?

Reuben, if you put ...

We could debate this all night. Here.

Sign this.

"Norma Rae Webster."

How come everybody down here has three names?

Come on, Wayne, let me pin this old thing on you.

It would cover up the gravy spot on your shirt.

Now, what do I get if I do?

You don't get nothing if you don't.

Besides, ain't you had enough of that?

You and me, we used to heat up that NCO club down at the base pretty good.


Bygone days.

Well ...

Then pin it on for bygone days.

Oh, good, Wayne, I'm so proud of you.

You think we'll ever see that club again, Norma, honey?

Take your wife. She doesn't get out much.

Looks like you've strayed off the reservation, Norma.

Is that right?

You got your own coffee machine at your end.

Yeah, but I don't got a water fountain.

And I gotta cool down my coffee before I drink it.

You'll cool everything!

Hey, Reverend. Well ...

Norma. You caught me in my shirtsleeves. Oh, that's OK.

Maybe we can have us some flowers out of your yard for Sunday?

Spider mites eaten up everything.


Somehow I can help you, Norma?

How long I been coming to this church, Reverend?

Since you were a little girl.

That's right.

I accepted Christ when I was 6 years old, didn't I?

Well, would you call me a good Christian?

With a lapse or two, I'd say so.

With a lapse or two.

Would you call yourself a good Christian?

That's for the Lord to say.

I want this church for a union meeting next Saturday afternoon.

That's blacks and whites sitting together.

This is a house of God.

That's what I'm waiting to see whether it is or whether it isn't.

You're coming mighty close to blasphemy, Norma.

I've come here and said I sinned and I done wrong and I'm sorry and I asked for God to forgive me.

Now, I wanna see what this church stands for, I wanna see if you'll stand up in that pulpit and say there oughta be justice, there oughta be a union, and if you're smitten and you rise up, then the Lord'll be on your side.

And if you don't, then I say, there ain't nothin' good for me in that church.

And I'm gonna leave it flat.

We're gonna miss your voice in the choir, Norma.

You're gonna hear it raised up someplace else.

Y'all go in and sit down, I'll be in there in a minute.

We're holding a meeting at our house, Jimmy Jerome. Union business.

Afterward we're having lemonade and cookies. Ginger snaps?

I'll roll up the front shades, so you can see right in.

Washed my windows on Saturday.

You shouldn't have any trouble.

You're going too far now, Norma. This here is our home.

How am I going too far?

There's a bunch of black men in there.

You're gonna get us in a whole lot of trouble.

I ain't never had any trouble with black men.

Only trouble I ever had in my life was with white men.

I remember some of you from the Chockoyotte church.

I did all of the talking that day.

Now I would like for you to speak.


A man's work should be a man's work, not a term in jail.

The Blacks have been pushed, pulled, and scorned. For what?

If the union is what everybody believes in, I'm for it all the way.

Excuse me for saying this with menfolks in the room, but when I get my menstrual cramps, which come pretty hard, they don't let me sit down on my job.

They say you gotta keep to your feet unless you bring a note from the doctor.

We wouldn't say we was sick if we wasn't.

You know, I look at a brick wall all day.

There used to be a window there.

They come and brick it up to give us the feeling that we're shut in.

My husband, Averill, died of brown lung two months ago.

His children are gonna grow up not even knowing him.

I got all his clothes, if someone could use them.

I'm not getting the message across.

17 people out of 800?

Well, you're an outsider.

Things move slow around here.

This isn't New York, where you grab a taxi and grab your hat.

Mama, Craig's wetting the bed. Oh, shikes.

I told him not to drink Coke before he gets to sleep.


Come on, sugar, wake up.

Get up.

Put your arms around my neck. Atta boy.

You got any ideas?

Yeah. Get a jug of corn whiskey and meet me here on Saturday.

We're gonna hit the back roads.

Are you finished, honey?


No more Cokes before you go to sleep.

Hey you, Mr. Robinson. How you doing today?

I'm busy.

I'm Norma Rae. You know me.

Yeah. How do you do?

Good to see you. This is my friend Reuben.

Hi, how you doing? Nice to see you. How do you do?

Listen, sir. Why don't you read this, if you will, sir, and I'll fix your tire for you.

How about that?

You got a deal. Yes, sir.

You know how do this?

Are you kidding? I don't even got a car.

Let's look like we know what we're doing.

Reuben? What?

I think he was taking this thing off.

You gonna make us a baseball bat or something?

Hey! Hi, Joe. How are you? How about you read one of these, will you?

Hey. Hey, Jake, how you doing?

Will you read one of those for me, please?

José, everybody!

Hi, James, how are you? I want you to meet Reuben here. He's a friend of mine.

How you doing, gentlemen?

Would you like to read one of these, sir? No.

Elwood? Bob? You wanna read one of these?

I wouldn't be interested.

Bob? You're not interested in a union?

No, no.

Why? You think you're going to get a better shake from management than you are from the union?

I always have. You always have, huh?


Damn glad you cut it.

That's telled him.

Hey, Robert.

Hi, Norma. Hi.

How are you? Fine.

We come out ... Ah!

It's only grass and water, Reuben.

This is where we used to swim when we were kids.

We'd come down here after we'd took it off from school and chuck off our clothes and jump in.

The only water hole I ever saw when I was a kid was when we used to open the fire hydrant on 110th and Riverside with a monkey wrench.

This is the life!

It's just an old mud hole. Oh, it's terrific.

It's cooling off my mosquito bites.

This is as clean as I'm gonna get this.

Thank you.


It is hot.

I'm coming in.

Come on.

You know what?

There used to be this old farmer, lived around here ... with a BB gun.

Sure hope he's moved away.

Yeah. Me, too.

What's that? Something's flicking around my ...

Those are minnows.

Those are what?

Minnows. They won't hurt you.

They better not.

You're a fish out of water down here.

This is not exactly my native habitat.

Reuben? What would you be doing on a day like this at home?

Play some handball at the Y, go see Aida at the Met.

Eat Chinese, play a little poker, hit the sack.

I've been two places in my life.

I've been to Henleyville, been on down to Piston.

Oh, you'd love New York.

You would, wow.

Super town.

Most beautiful women in the world, best food, opera, theater, ballet.



You're homesick.

Oy vey.



You got a skinny build.


Sonny works out with weights.

I tried that.

I dropped them and broke my goddamn foot.

Well ...

You don't gotta worry, 'cause you got a head on you and you use it.


Why, I know why we got a bad connection here, Henry.

It's 'cause I think the line is being tapped.

Hey, you? Who's ever listening in on this, this is Norma Rae Webster and I'm talking union to Henry Willis.

I'm on tonight and every night. Same old story, no commercials.

Union, union, unions.

Look, why don't you have your boss man tap me?

And then you can go on home to your wife and kids.

Henry, let ... Henry?

Oh, shoot!

You ain't getting any sleep.

I ain't getting any sleep, and I gotta get to work in the morning.

I got a hundred calls to make tonight.

Is that going on our phone bill?

We'll take it out of my paycheck, all right?

This damn milk is sour!

I didn't have a chance to get to the market.

Oh, you didn't have a chance to get to the market, did you?

And you didn't get to the washing, and you didn't get to the kids, and you didn't get to me!

Is that right?

That's right! That's right!

Damn TV dinners, kids going around in dirty jeans!

I'm going around, uh, without!


You want cooking?

You got cooking.

You want laundry?

You got laundry.

You want ironing?

You got ironing.

You wanna make love?

You get behind me and lift up my nighty, and we're gonna make love.




Rita? Y'all come on down to the Golden Cherry this time.

Don't just read it and nod your head at me.

Hey, Doris. Millicent. Come on down, too, and bring your peanut butter pie.

Hey, Vicky. Deborah? How's your little one? Heard he got the measles.

Keep him away from mine, will you?

Hey, Brenda, how's your new baby?

Listen, get on down to the Golden Cherry. You could type, I know you can type.

Hey, get on down to the Golden Cherry, will you, and help us out?

Sue, now, come on, read this. Every single word of it's important.

And come on down to the Golden Cherry. Cause if I got the time, you got the time.

Well, I don't bump into you much anymore, do I?

You all right, Daddy?

About the same.

Your color's bad. You been drinking?

Thimbleful now and then.

Well, you know it's not good for you.

Oh, honey, what's the difference?

Sometimes I wonder when I lie down if I'm gonna get up again.

Don't talk old to me. I don't like it.


I'm gonna come over there one of these nights real soon and take you out to a grand supper. How about that?



James, uh ... coming back?

I guess so.

Where'd he go, home?

I don't know.


I oughta be going home, too.

Hey, how's Dorothy?

Terrific. Thanks.

I see you got a new picture of her.

Oh, yeah?

You like it, huh? My mother sent that.

She and your mother, they must get along real well.

Are you kidding? My mother loves her.

She's a lawyer, she's lefto, she's Jewish, and she's a great cook.

What the hell else could she want?

How come she's so smart?



Oh. Oh, madame, your dinner.

Le grand banana and a beer.


Who's this?

Dylan Thomas?

He was a poet, a genius and a drunk.

What's he write about?

Love, sex, death, other matters of consequence.

Is he hard to read?

Eh ...

Eh ...

So why should I bother?

Cause maybe he has something to say to you.

Open that, will you?

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."



Well, I'll try him.


Hell, there ain't nothing on TV but reruns anyway.

Hey, you wanna do me a favor? Don't eat while you read.

I can't stand banana in my books.

Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch.

Hey, Warren?


Hey, man, what's happening? Nobody showed up at the meeting.

They got us on a stretch-out. Oh, man.

Put us on a three-day week.

Twice as much work for half the pay.

All on account of you.

Hey, just a second, huh?

Now, you just stand there for a minute.

Oh, man.

Now, there's six turnips and two quarts of water in there.

That's supper for seven people.

You just go sell your union someplace else.

Hey, I'm trying to get you ...


My arm's gone numb on me, Jimmy. I think I better go and lie down.

Y'all got a break coming up in 15 minutes, Vernon.

I think I better go now, Jimmy.

Y'all hang on, Vern. Your break's coming up.

Grab hold of your bucket, Lucius. In a minute.

Mavis, Rhonda.

Hey, Betty.

You get off your shift at 3. You were supposed to be here at 3:15.

It's 4:15. Where the hell you been? You working for this union or aren't you?

I was getting my tooth filled.

You were getting your beer gut filled!

Chew your old man out at home and get off me, Norma.

I'm just starting in on you. Now, I'm giving 9, 10, 11, 12 hours here every day.

There's a pile of work around here. We're doing our share.

But either do your share or don't call yourself a union member!

Norma! Shut your cake hole. In fact, get the hell out of the office.

What'd I do? I only said what was true.


Come on.


Get to work. Come on.

Let's go. Everybody back to work. Come on.


You're too muscular.

You can't come down that hard on a man and leave him his balls. Easy. Jesus.

If you were in the state department, we'd be at war.

All right. I got a big mouth. Mh-hm.

You know, cotton mill workers are known as trash to some.

I know, the union's the only way we'll get our own voice and make ourselves any better.

I guess that's why I push.

Our own Mother Jones.

Who's she?

She was some considerable lady.

She made it happen for the coal miners in West Virginia.

You ain't mad at me?

If the situation ever called for a smart, loud, profane, sloppy, hard-working woman, I'd pick you every time, kid.

Well, how come sloppy? Nobody wears girdles anymore.

What are you giving this to me for? I didn't order anything.

Well, hey, you ate it!

What do you want?

Warshovsky around?

Reuben's at the printer's.

Pretty late for the printer's.

Yeah, well. Reuben keeps 'em working late.

You're Norma Rae, aren't you?


I'm Mrs. Webster.

We're from the union national headquarters.

This is Al London, I'm Sam Dankin.

Is that right?

Well, now that you're here I might as well give you my shopping list.

Let me see. We need some more envelopes, we need some stamps.

We're almost out of typing paper.

Hey, we could do with a loudspeaker. And how about some typewriters that don't stick?

We're not in office supplies, Mrs. Webster.

And you aren't around here much, either.

Ah. Hello, Reuben.

Sam, how are you? All right.

You're getting fat.

Yeah, I gained a couple pounds.

Al, how are you?

Lousy. I got a cold.

What brings you guys?

You're not getting up much of a head of steam, Reuben.

You've had my reports. You know what I'm up against.

We're worried.

That makes three of us.

It's a small, Southern Baptist town, Reuben.

You got to keep your nose very clean.

Why? You see any snot in mine?

Maybe Mrs. Webster would like to leave?

Why should she leave?

Cause this concerns her and I'm trying to make it easy on her ...

Oh, come on. Will you, please? It's late. What do you guys want?

If the company wants us to look bad, they'll use anything they can to make us look bad.

Reuben, the mill hands in this town go to church every Sunday.

And she's talking union to them?

They say she's made a porno movie with a local police officer, very explicit.

Show it to me. Run it for me.

Oh, come on. There doesn't have to be a movie, just people talk like there's one!

The lady has an illegitimate child.

She's slept around.

She takes naps on your bed late at night.

I don't believe this. Whaddaya mean ...

I mean, are we in the union business or the character assassination business?

After I put in an 18-hour day, I suddenly got the Legion of Decency on my hands here!

Do you know that this woman has broken her ass for this organization?

She doesn't see her kids! She doesn't have time to take a bath!

What the hell do I care if she has round heels. What is this, the Catholic Church?

We're gonna canonize her?

Hey, Ruben it's your game.

You're goddamn right it is!

But we think she oughta go! Then make it stick!

If you can't, get the hell outta here!

Just get the hell outta here anyway!

I'm sorry, Mrs. Webster.

I don't wanna hurt the union, Reuben. I'll quit if you want.

What were you doing sleeping? You were supposed to type some letters for me.


Hey. It's me, Norma.

OK, it's I, Norma. Will you forget the grammar?

Look, I gotta talk to you right away.

Maybe we could meet at my break.


Just talking to my kids. Make sure they got home from school all right.

Your kids are with my kids at the grocery store buying candy.

Maybe that's why my dentist bills is busting me!


Come on! Come on, boy!

Come here, boy!

You thinking union?

You want union? You'll get union! OK?

Come on, break it up! Break it up!

Break it up!

You all right?


What started this?

They put up a letter telling the whites the blacks are gonna take over the union, they gonna run it and push 'em around.

And any time you tell a white man a black man's gonna sit on his head, this is what you get.

I love it when these pricks get mean. We can take legal action.

You get me the letter.

I just can't waltz in there and take it off the board. They're watching me.

How good is your memory?

I still don't know the pledge of allegiance to the flag.

Get somebody to help you, write it down a line at a time.

Jeez, that reminds me of the time I pinched a lipstick off the Five and dime.

Did you get caught?

I went back next week for curlers. Then you know how to do it, kid.

"Dominate it and control it as you may see fit.

If now ... if now ..."

Damn! Damn, damn, damn!

"you black employees are being told that by going into the union in mass, you can dominate it and control it in this plant as you may see fit.

If ..."

Where's the rest of it?

Well, that's all I could get.

Mata Hari.

Now, they was watching us every single minute.

It's the best chance we got to nail these bastards, to catch 'em with their pants down.

So don't tell me you can't remember it.

Sweetheart, you walk up to it, you stand there and you copy it down, word for word, line for line.

You get me the date, you get me the signature.

You get it all, and you get it back here to me. Come on.

I'm gonna get fired.

I'll run you a benefit.

Oh, thanks a lot.

Hey! You wanna get massaged, you go to a massage parlor!

Either we get beat, or we don't get beat. Come on!

I got three kids, a drawerful of bills and a husband who doesn't like what I'm doing.

Now, I'll do it, but I don't need your boot on my backside, Mr. Warshovsky.

Reuben, I'm gonna tell you something.

What are you gonna tell me, Norma?

You been away from home a long time, you been all business and you're getting crabby.

Reuben, you need yourself a woman.

Funny you should mention it.

Tonight's the night.

Well, what would Dorothy say?

"Wear a rubber."

You can't copy this letter!

It's up on the bulletin board and I'm going to copy it!

You better not.

I'm gonna take down every word of this letter.

It's my break time and I'm gonna take down every word of this letter.

Just stay out of my way!

I'm gonna take down every word of this letter.

Hello, Norma.

Mr. Mason. You know who I am.

Norma, put the pencil and paper away.

You stop what you're doing right now.

You're going to leave!

The law's going to come after you and take you right outta this plant!

Mr. Mason, I started this, and I'm gonna finish it.

"Serious violence."

Let's go to my office, Norma.

Why did you make those personal phone calls on company time?

I want you all to spell out your names for me.

Don't be foolish, Norma Rae.

Mr. Mason, no-one around here is on my side, and I'm not gonna leave until I set down all your names on this piece of paper.

Lady, I want you off the premises now!

You phone your husband! You tell him to come over here and fetch you!

I want you outta here right quick!

Norma Rae.

Forget it!

I'm staying put!

Right where I am!

It's gonna take you and the police department and the fire department and the National Guard to get me outta here!

I'll wait for the sheriff to come and take me home!

And I ain't gonna budge till he gets here!

Come on down now, Norma Rae.

Come on down now.

You heard what I said. Come on down.


I want you to put it in writing that Sheriff Lamar Miller is gonna take Norma Rae Webster straight home.

And I want you to sign it and I want you to hand it to me.

Don't you tell me what to do, young lady.

You're getting nothing from me in writing.

Mr. Mason?

You want her off the premises?

Take her out.

I don't know if I wanna get in the same car with you and nobody else.

Lamar, I ain't gonna bite you.

That's a police car! You're taking me to jail!

No! No! No!

Quit that scrapping now!

No! No!

You're going to jail!


Get her in there.

No! No!


Get in there now!


Get her in.

Get in there.




Webster, Norma Rae.

704 Priester Road, Henleyville.

She's white.

Female, 31.

Occupation: textile.

Fair complexion, brown hair, brown eyes.

Arrest number: 2238B.

Charge: disorderly conduct.

Norma Rae, you go with her now.

Might as well sit down.

You got one phone call.

Better call Sonny.

I'll be calling my union organizer.

I know the first time you're in is bad.

It comes with the job.

I saw a pregnant woman on a picket line get hit in the stomach with a club.

I saw a boy of 16 get shot in the back.

I saw a guy get blown to hell and back when he tried to start up his car in the morning.

And you just got your feet wet on this one.

Norma, you all right?

I put the kids to bed.


Honey, wake up.

It's Mama.

Wake up, sugar. I wanna talk to you. Come on.

Put your arms around my neck.

Alice, wake up. Millie, wake up.

I wanna talk to you, sweetheart.

Come on in the living room.

Come on. Atta girl.

I love you, kids.

That's the first thing.

And Sonny loves you.

You got the both of us.

The second thing is I'm a jailbird.

Now, you're gonna be hearing that and a lot of other things.

But you're gonna hear it from me first.


Your daddy.

His name was Buddy Wilson.

And he died four months after you was born.


I wasn't never married to your daddy.

And he wasn't Buddy.

And he's not Sonny.

He's another man.

And there have been others in my life.

You're gonna be hearing about them, too.

I'm not perfect.

I made mistakes.

Millie, these are pictures of your daddy.

Craig, I got pictures of your daddy.

They belong to you.

If you go in the mill, I want life to be better for you than it is for me.

That's why I joined up with the union and that's why I got fired for it.

You understand me?

Now, you kids, you know what I am.

And you know that I believe in standing up for what I think is right.

Go to the bathroom before you get back into bed.

Take your pictures.

Go on.

I'll take a bath.

There's lice in that jail.

She had one call, and she called you.

She knew I could make bail.

You come in here, you ... you mix her up, you turn her head all around.

She's all changed.

I didn't want that, I didn't want her to be a front-runner.

What's gonna happen to us now?

She stood up on the table.

She's a free woman.

Maybe you can live with it, maybe you can't.

Busted my shoelace.

There's another one in the drawer.

I busted that one last week.

Did you ever sleep with him?


But he's in my head.

I'm gonna see you through getting tired, getting sick, getting old.

I'm gonna see you through anything that comes up.

And there's nobody else in my head.

Just you.

Folks, ballots tabulated for the O.P. Henley Company, against the union: 373.


the count for the union: 427.

We got it in!

Union! Union! Union! Union!

Union! Union! Union!

Union! Union! Union!

Union! Union! Union! Union!

Union! Union! Union!

Union! Union! Union! Union! Union! Union!

Union! Union! Union! Union! Union! Union!

You're gonna to drive straight through?


Well, you better stop for coffee, stay awake.

I got a thermos in the car.

Well ...




Ah, so.

What are you gonna do now?

Live. What else?

Now, you drop me a line once in a while, OK?

Anyone read your mail?

Well, my mother.

How about I send you a copy of Dylan Thomas?

I already bought one for myself.

You did?

Nobody can do anything for you, huh?

You've done something for me, a lot.

Well, you did something for us.

A mitzvah.

What's that? What is that?

That's a good work.

I don't say goodbye.

I have been known to cry.

Well, what do you say? Ahhh ...

Be happy.

Be well.

Same to you.

Best wishes don't seem hardly enough.

I ...

I'd like to thank you.

I do.

I thank you for your companionship, your stamina, your horse sense, and 101 laughs.

I also enjoyed very much looking at your shining hair and your shining face.

Reuben, I think you like me.

I do.

I was gonna buy you a tie clip or some shaving lotion or something, but I didn't know what you'd like.

Norma, what I've had from you has been sumptuous.

Bless the child of a working man She knows too soon who she is And bless the hands of a working man He knows his soul is his So it goes like it goes Like the river flows And time, it rolls right on And maybe what's good Gets a little bit better And maybe what's bad gets gone

And it goes like it goes Like the river flows And time keeps rolling on And maybe what's good Gets a little bit better And maybe what's bad Gets gone