“We see no reflection in any way in the employment of detectives,” an attorney representing the Michigan Manufacturers Association told the members of the Senate Civil Liberties Committee in 1937. “‘Detective’ and ‘spy’ are two names that are used in a derogatory sense, but even a spy has a necessary place in time of war.”
In the war against trade unionism in America, labor espionage had long been regarded by big business as a weapon of vital importance. For more than half a century, secret battalions of professional labor spies, detectives, agents-provocateurs and paid informers had been waging clandestine warfare against the labor movement. But it was not until the advent of the New Deal, and the outmoding of the crude strikebreaking tactics of the Bergoff era, that labor espionage operations reached their peak offensive.