Norma Rae (1979)

Directed by Martin Ritt

Norma Rae is a southern textile worker employed in a factory with intolerable working conditions. This concern about the situation gives her the gumption to be the key associate to a visiting labor union organizer. Together, they undertake the difficult, and possibly dangerous, struggle to unionize her factory.

All the expected players in this story are here: the union rep, the bosses, the workers that need convincing, the vicar, the good boyfriend and the bad boyfriend. But they as far away from stereotypes than they can be in such a mainstream film to the point that the characters have the capacity to surprise each other at times. The obvious inspiration for the (weaker) Erin Brockovich (2000), I think.