The Work I’ve Done

Director: Kenneth Fink
Screenwriters: Kenneth Fink

Institute History

  • 1985 Sundance Film Festival


One of the victories of the American labor movement is summed up in the phrase “30 years and out.” After three decades of work, an employee at a union plant can, regardless of age, retire with full pension. It is the light ant the end of the tunnel, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the goal of each worker. But does the most generous pension arrangement take care of all the needs of retiring workers who still feel active?

That’s the question posed by Ken Fink’s touching portrait of a few workers at the Budd Company assembly plant in Pennsylvania; one on the ever of retirement, and a handful in their first years of inactivity. Uncovering a gaggle of performers among his retirees, the film has several unforgettable high points, including an elderly widow and widower who, with remarkable candor and humor, talk about their new sex life; another man who describes how he painted house three times after retirement and a welder who said he could weld together everything except “the break of day and a broken heart.”

Preceded by The Business of America (Larry Adelman, Lawrence Daressa, Bruce Schmiechen, 1984, 43 min.), a portrait of our smokestack industries on the decline and the many people affected by the slowdowns and plant closures.

Screening Details


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