5 Free Documentaries that Teach Us about Labor Trafficking in America

January 4, 2021

la·bor traf·fick·ing

noun; the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. 


Human trafficking in America isn’t just sex trafficking, it’s also labor trafficking. Labor trafficking happens throughout the United States and right here in Fight To End Exploitation’s home state of Wisconsin. Labor trafficking is often linked to consumerism and the demand for cheap products as well as argriculture and food production. In the midwest, there have been many cases of foreign nationals who come to the States legally under an H2-A visa but treated inhumanely by recruiters in the United States upon their arrival. It could also look like a contractor noticing that a subcontractor’s team appears to be sleeping in unfinished homes, or a mom might learn from a nanny at her local playground that her employer mistreats and threatens her (Polaris).

Identifying labor trafficking is an important piece to understanding human trafficking as a whole. Learning about labor trafficking through realistic evidence-based documentaries is one way that we can build our knowledge base. We’ve put together a collection of five must-see documentaries to get you started in learning about labor trafficking in America. All are free to stream, you do not need a subscription service to view them.

Trafficked in America

PBS Frontline; Stream on PBS Frontline

FRONTLINE and the Investigative Reporting Program at U.C. Berkeley tell the inside story of Guatemalan teens who were forced to work against their will on an Ohio egg farm in 2014.


Human Trafficking is All Around You: Here’s How It Works

Ted Talks; Stream on Ted

Behind the everyday bargains we all love — the $10 manicure, the unlimited shrimp buffet — is a hidden world of forced labor to keep those prices at rock bottom. Noy Thrupkaew investigates human trafficking – which flourishes in the US and Europe, as well as developing countries – and shows us the human faces behind the exploited labor that feeds global consumers.


The Ugly Face of Beauty: Is Child Labour the Foundation for Your Makeup?

RT; Stream on Youtube

Mica is a shiny mineral that’s all the rage in modern-day makeup, helping to give beauty products a bright gleam and natural-looking glow. This beauty, however, comes at a price that most are unaware of. Those who pay it are the poorest and most vulnerable. RT Doc visits India’s illegal mica mines where child labor is rife.


Invisible: A Fight to End Human Trafficking

Place of Hope; Stream on Youtube

Invisible is a documentary exposing the epidemic of human trafficking that is happening in our own backyards. Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. Human trafficking is not only an overseas issue, it happens right here in the United States. This documentary discusses labor traffcking as well as sex trafficking in the United States.


Labor Trafficking 101: Learning the Basics

National Center for Victims of Crime; Stream of Youtube

A panel of experts share information about potential indicators of labor trafficking, vulnerable industries, and a broad range of resources available to help organizations and tribes start, sustain, or grow their support services for victims of labor trafficking. Participant questions are answered live during the event. This webinar is part of the Ask an Expert Series sponsored by the Office for Victims of Crime, Human Trafficking Capacity Building Center.

Interested in More Documentaries? Check out our other blog posts!

5 Free Documentaries that Teach Us about Sex Trafficking in America

5 Free Documentaries that Teach Us about Human Trafficking Worldwide

If you’ve learned something from this article, we hope you will share it with others. Education and awareness continue to be our best weapon in the fight against human trafficking and you can use your voice and social media for good by sharing what you know. Thank you for joining the fight.

You can also donate to support the advocacy, training, and education we provide at no cost to participants, and we thank you for taking this fight seriously by investing in it.