24 Labor Day Movies That Celebrate the Actual Spirit of the Whole Thing

Labor Day: It’s more than just an extra Monday off in September to break up the long gap between Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. According to the official Department of Labor website, the meaning of Labor Day is to celebrate the “creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

So, yeah, Labor Day means a three-day weekend. But, unlike most national holidays that shut down offices and banks, the three-day weekend is kind of the point, in a way. Labor Day is a day to celebrate ourselves, the people who work hard every day to earn a living and make sure the wheels of society keep turning. And you know what? We totally deserve the day of honor. Way to go, all of us. But how should we celebrate this glorious day honoring the hard, hard work we do all year long? As with just about every holiday in existence, there are worse ways to celebrate than with a movie marathon from the comfort of your own sofa.

If you’re looking to take a load off and relax with a Labor Day media binge session, but aren’t sure where to start, have no fear because we have you covered. From movies explicitly about the labor movement, like Norma Rae, to movies that capture the daily drudgery of work life in America, like Office Space, here are 15 movies you can watch to celebrate the Labor Day spirit.

Norma Rae (1979)

Sally Field shines in this classic about a woman (the titular Norma Rae, obvi) who works at the local textile mill under terrible conditions for meager pay. Norma becomes a labor activist and rallies her coworkers to unionize.

Office Space (1999)

Does any movie capture the soul-sucking nature of (some) modern workplaces better than Office Space? Nope.

Working Girl (1988)

Corporate life is cutthroat and Working Girl turns that basic fact into the basis for a classic rom-com.

The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Not every Labor Day movie is about the woes of being at work because as much as being at work can suck, not having a job to go to all is always worse. The Grapes of Wrath perfectly illustrates the tragedy and widespread impact of economic downturns on the working class.

9 to 5 (1980)

This classic office satire starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton is just as hilarious today as it was when it was released in 1980.

North Country (2005)

Charlize Theron stars as a female miner in this movie, which digs deep into the ugliest side of workplace sexual harassment.

Gung Ho (1986)

This movie explores the complexities that come with the global economy through the lens of a Pennsylvania auto plant that’s acquired by a Japanese company and the struggles the unionized workers face adjusting to the new normal.

Roger & Me (1989)

In this documentary, Michael Moore searches for answers to explain why General Motors decided to close down all of its auto plants in the Flint, Michigan, leaving 30,000 people jobless and the city economically devastated.

Salt of the Earth (1954)

This movie, about a New Mexico miners’ strike, is based on true events and its message is so pro-labor, the movie was actually backed by the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers.

Horrible Bosses (2011)

Being a worker bee isn’t easy—especially when the humans you work for are particularly, well, horrible.

Trading Places (1983)

This Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd movie is hilarious, yes, but it also provides some biting commentary on the heartless nature of the 1 percent and the way race and class often trump ability and aptitude when it comes to opportunities for success.

Support the Girls (2018)

Regina Hall stars in this under-the-radar movie about the female employees at a Hooters-like restaurant that serves as one of the best depictions of what it’s like to be a woman in the service industry.

In the Pit (2006)

This 2006 documentary (also known as En El Hoyo) from Juan Carlos Rulfo follows a group of Mexico City construction workers building a new freeway and offers a unique insight into the working conditions they face.

Up in the Air (2009)

Ending people’s jobs is such a common part of the American economy that there are people whose entire job is to fire other people and, in the process, potentially destroy their lives. Worst job ever? It has to be up there.

Modern Times (1936)

This Charlie Chaplin classic is about the way modern technology—specifically work in an early 20th century factory—disrupts the more important parts of life.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

It’s the movie where Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill chronicle the rise and fall of one of the most famous stock brokerages in the 1990s. In between the FBI chases and debauchery, there’s a record-breaking number of F-bombs. Nothing unusual about that.

Coyote Ugly (2000)

Yes, the movie features Piper Perabo going off to New York City to chase her dream as a songwriter. But it’s the camaraderie she builds with her co-workers at the Coyote Ugly Saloon which will make you miss seeing your work friends IRL. And also dance atop the nearest table you can find.

Newsies (1992)

If every union involved highly-choreographed dance numbers, Christian Bale as the representative, and some really cool period costumes, maybe every field would create their own?

Clerks (1994)

I often wonder what my high school cashier experience would’ve been like if I’d adopted the mentality of Quick Stop Groceries sales clerks Dante Hicks and Randal Graves. Oh, and if I had a video in my face while trying to do my job…

The Proposal (2009)

I don’t necessarily think pretending to be someone’s fiancé in order to get them a green card qualifies as part of a typical job description. But seeing Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds argue their way into a happily ever after? Well, maybe I’d re-consider the terms—but only if Betty White was involved.

Employee of the Month (2006)

Note to self: dating a guy vying for the Employee of the Month is never a bad thing. But make sure it’s all for the right reasons before getting involved. And also, maybe you should try for the coveted prize?

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

When things get stagnant in the middle of an office, just like this film, all you need is a little bit of motivation to make things lively again.

Support the Girls (2018)

As anyone who’s ever worked at a restaurant knows, it’s a lot to be a manager. Especially when the establishment is sort of, maybe exactly a fictionalized version of Hooters. But this movie, starring Regina Hall and Haley Lu Richardson amongst others, proves just how much passion it takes to keep the momentum going—even when everything is falling apart.

Waitress (2007)

What do you do when you’re stuck in a small town with a lowly waitressing job, an abusive husband, and an unwanted pregnancy to boot? Why, you bake pies, of course! While all the treats look amazing (especially the “I hate my husband” pie), it’s the dream of creating a new life which propels this movie forward.

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