Union Organizing in the Early Days
Almost all current union members were hired into an already represented workplace. But while you personally may have played no role in unionizing your place of work, you can’t assume that those who did had an easy time of it. In the early decades of union organizing in the U.S., it was not unusual for employers to respond to union organizing drives with physical violence. Many of the early industrial unions got their footholds only by standing up to a court system that jailed union supporters, and to the clubs and guns of company thugs. Sometimes the bullets that maimed and killed union supporters and their families were fired by state militias or federal troops, serving as private armies for anti-union employers.
—Adapted from The Union Member's Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer