Kirkland, Lane(Joseph Lane Kirkland) (kûr`klənd), 1922–99, American labor leader, president (1979–95) of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial OrganizationsAmerican Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
(AFL-CIO), a federation of autonomous labor unions in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, and U.S.
..... Click the link for more information. (AFL-CIO), b. Camden, S.C. He was an executive assistant (1960–69) to AFL-CIO president George MeanyMeany, George,
1894–1980, American labor leader, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO; 1955–79), b. New York City.
..... Click the link for more information. and (1969–79) its secretary-treasurer. Succeeding Meany as president of AFL-CIO in 1979, Kirkland made consolidation of the labor movement a major goal and oversaw the reentry of the United Automobile Workers (1981), Teamsters (1988), and United Mine Workers (1989) into the organization. A staunch anti-Communist, he was also an influential supporter of Poland's SolidaritySolidarity,
Polish independent trade union federation formed in Sept., 1980. Led by Lech Wałęsa, it grew rapidly in size and political power and soon posed a threat to Poland's Communist government by its sponsorship of labor strikes and other forms of public protest.
..... Click the link for more information. movement. Although union membership remained stable during Kirkland's tenure as the head of organized labor, the percentage of nonfarm workers who were union members decreased, and labor saw its political clout diminish. Increasing dissatisfaction among AFL-CIO member unions with the state of organized labor led Kirkland to retire in 1995.
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Kirkland, (Joseph) Lane(1922– ) labor leader; born in Camden, S.C. A merchant marine pilot during World War II, he joined the staff of the American Federation of Labor in 1948, and worked his way up the staff hierarchy. He was elected secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in 1969, and president in 1980. He was regarded as one of the new breed of labor leaders—moderate, articulate, even cerebral, and more at home in the board room than on the shop floor.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.