In the early twentieth century, Pinkerton security guards, thugs and strikebreakers spied on, assaulted and killed unionists – yet that was a time when people joined unions by the droves, a period when workers would drive 50 miles to attend a union meeting.

Why? Partly, it was the Great Depression and its aftermath—people were desperately poor, and exploited.

But, there was something else.

The union leaders lived among the rank-and-file. They talked to them one-on-one. People were signed up, face-to-face, and, in the process, they were brought into the union mission, culture and struggle.

It was a daily, shared struggle and conversation.
Losses and lessons: what unions need to take from Michigan | Equal Times