American Federation of Labor

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

American Federation of Labor


(AFL), a trade union organization in the USA, in existence during 1881–1955. It was called the Federation of Organized Trade Unions of the USA and Canada until 1886, when it became the AFL.

The AFL primarily united the qualified upper stratum of the working class. The trade unions of the AFL were basically organized around a skilled handicraft which hindered the unification of workers in a particular enterprise or an entire industry. During its first years the AFL played an important role in the battle for the eight-hour working day. However, as a result of the politics espoused by right-wing professional leaders—S. Gompers and others—the AFL had already been transformed into an antisocialist, conservative organization by the end of the 19th century. The leaders of the AFL made it difficult in many ways for nonqualified workers, especially Negroes and also immigrants, to enter the trade unions. The right-wing leadership of the AFL pursued a policy of class collaboration with employers, opposed independent participation of the working class in political struggles, and supported the internal and external policies of the rulers of the USA on the most important issues. After the victory of the October Revolution in Russia, the leadership of the AFL adopted a position extremely hostile to Soviet Russia and encouraged the intervention of the USA against the Soviet republic. The leaders of the AFL opposed the creation of the World Federation of Trade Unions (1945) and then took an active part in organizing the dissident International Conference of Free Trade Unions.

In 1955 the AFL (with approximately 10 million members) merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations to form a professional amalgamation, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations.


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Lenin, V. I. “Detskaia bolezn’ ‘levizny’ v kommunizme.” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 41.
Zubok, L. I. Ocherk istorii SSA. Moscow, 1956. Pages 90–93.
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Historians and other social scientists have expressed different interpretations regarding the political ideology of the early Puerto Rican labor movement and in respect to the role and influence that Samuel Gompers and the American Federation of Labor had on Santiago Iglesias Pantin and the Federacion Libre de los Trabajadores de Puerto Rico.
Church leaders urged the American Federation of Labor to adhere to Catholic social views and to eshew political remedies in favor of "pure and simple" trade unionism.
In the early days of the American Federation of Labor they were called Local Unions.
In England and France the "new unionism" and radical working-class politics survived to promote the British Labour Party and French syndicalism; in the United States, however, the Knights of Labor collapsed, and was replaced by the anachronistic craft unionism and anti-politics of the American Federation of Labor. The failure of the Knights, Voss suggests, "marks the moment when, from a comparative perspective, the American labor movement began to look exceptional".
The American Federation of Labor almost crippled the original WPA by demanding that it pay union wages.
In "The Last Great Chance for an American Working Class" he considers the relations among three events in 1886 which altered the course of labor history: one of the few general strikes in the American experience, the Chicago Haymarket riot and its savage repression, and the founding of the American Federation of Labor. As a general rule, historians have emphasized the riot and its effects on the general strike, seen either as paralytic or inconsequential.
8 in Columbus, Ohio, when the American Federation of Labor (AFL) was organized by about 25 labor groups representing 150,000 members.
* It is the policy of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations that every practical means shall be used to ensure equal opportunity in employment of all qualified workers with mental and physical disabilities.
The "Wobblies" opposed the American Federation of labor, which accepted the capitallist system and refused to organize unskilled workers.
Rabat The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) has joined the chorus of voices requesting fundamental changes in Morocco's labor legislation.In an email dated August 1, sent to to the Moroccan employment ministry, AFL-CIO urged the North African country to reconsider its current labor law project as it "constitutes a violation of the most fundamental and constitutional rights.
His last days left him at odds with Haywood and Wobblies and at the same time with more moderate labour forces more in line with American Federation of Labor's brand of trade unionism.
Trumka, who is head of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), said on Fox News Sunday of Trump's policies: "Unfortunately, to date, the things that he's done to hurt workers outpace what he's done to help workers."

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