American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations

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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)


The major trade union organization in the USA. Founded in Dec. 1955 by the merger of the American Federation of Labor (founded in 1881) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (founded in 1935). Right-wing trade union leaders hold the major leadership positions in the AFL-CIO. Since 1955 the president of the AFL-CIO has been G. Meany. The leadership of the AFL-CIO follows a policy of class collaboration, restrains the struggle of American workers for their rights, and often limits itself to only symbolic support for strikers; it maintains an anticommunist line and supports the aggressive foreign policy of American imperialism. The AFL-CIO plays a leading role in the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. As a result of the conciliatory position of the leadership of the AFL-CIO, the influence of this trade union among American workers is gradually declining. The number of American workers who are members of the trade unions united in the AFL-CIO decreased from 22.5 percent in 1954 to 17.6 percent in 1966. In 1966 there were 129 trade unions (15.09 million members) in the AFL-CIO. By December 1967 the membership had declined to 14.3 million. Among the rank-and-file members of the trade unions and part of the local trade union leadership, there is a growing dissatisfaction with the conciliatory, opportunistic policies of the leadership of the AFL-CIO; demands for strengthening the strike movement and the fight for civil rights and professional freedom are being advanced more and more actively. During 1967–68 these tendencies were expressed in the break in relations between the leadership of the AFL-CIO and one of the most powerful trade unions in the USA, the United Automobile and Aircraft Workers (1.3 million members), the leader of which (W. Reuther) had been vice-president of the AFL-CIO since 1955. The publications of the AFL-CIO are the weekly AFL-CIO News and the monthly journal American Federationist.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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