AFL and CIO Merge (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: The merger of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), creating the AFL-CIO, inaugurates the foremost labor organization of the twentieth century.
Summary of Event
From late in the nineteenth century until the 1930’s, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) was the principal, although never the only, body of organized U.S. labor. In structure, it was a federation of national and international unions, with individual unions maintaining a great deal of autonomy. Most of the affiliated unions were composed of skilled laborers organized by their crafts or skills. AFL membership and prestige was weakened in the 1920’s, and even more so in the early Depression years (1929-1932). This downward trend, however, was halted abruptly in 1933 with the inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal program. New Deal legislation, such as Section 7A of the National Industrial Recovery Act (1933) and the later National Labor Relations Act, or Wagner Act (1935), encouraged the formation of unions by the legal guarantee of free collective bargaining.
This encouragement, along with other events and conditions, led to new organizing drives. Several groups within the AFL—in particular, the United Mine Workers, led by John L. Lewis—argued that the drives could not be successful unless they followed the principle of industrial unionism,...
(The entire section is 1511 words.)
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The AFL and CIO Merge (Great Events from History II: Business and Commerce Series)
Article abstract: The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations reunited to cope with major union problems and a changing business and political environment.
Summary of Event
Led by the fiery leader of the United Mine Workers Union, John L. Lewis, nearly a million members of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) were suspended by the AFL in 1935 and were expelled officially in 1938. This massive division within the ranks of organized labor, leading to formation of the rival Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), was destined to last for two decades. Debate continues over whether the split was inevitable. Labor leaders such as David Dubinsky, who headed the ladies’ garment workers, along with labor historians such as Philip Taft and many politicians including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, believed the separation within the ranks of organized labor to be unfortunate as well as unnecessary. Given the tumults and uncertainties that characterized the labor scene after the CIO’s ejection from its parent organization, these perspectives were shared widely throughout the nation’s business community and the general public.
Personality and generational conflicts undoubtedly fueled the causes of division. Lewis allied with David Dubinsky and Philip Murray, for example, against AFL president William Green and AFL officials such as William Hutcheson, John Frey, and Matthew...
(The entire section is 2169 words.)