Bread and Roses is the story of a young Mexican woman, Maya, who comes north to join her sister, Rosa, and Rosa’s family in Los Angeles. It is the story of her transformation and how she transforms the lives of people around her.
In the film Bread and Roses, we see a real humanistic story of immigrants in the United States. The film is based on 1980s long-standing “Justice for Janitors” campaign that has sought better pay and conditions for the “invisible” class of (mostly) Hispanic workers who clean office buildings. Paul Laverty’s shallow script suddenly seems enormously prophetic in light of the widely publicized strike in L.A., which only a few years ago was settled to the benefit of janitors, who were previously making as little as $6 per hour with no benefits.
To me, it represents the life of many immigrants who are working and living in powerful countries as such. The main themes in this film are the exploitation and the low wages of the immigrants in their jobs, their daily struggles, limited choices and forced decisions about life.
This film portrays the contrasting ideas within a big and advanced city like Los Angeles, where it shows glimpses of the high-rise buildings and rich, successful businessmen, as well as the poor janitors working in those same buildings and their differing living conditions.
There are many aspects in the film which connect to the course concepts, such as, racialization, labour unions, elderly feminized poverty, precarious work, low wages, highly insecure work and gender power relationships in society. Other aspects which resonated include high threats of deportation, sexual violence, and work place hierarchy.