Meany, George

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Meany, 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. A plumber, he was elected business agent of his local union in 1922 and rose in 1934 to the presidency of the New York State Federation of Labor. He proved an able lobbyist before the Albany legislature, where he successfully helped promote the passage of 72 prolabor bills. Elected secretary-treasurer of the AFL in 1939, he held that post until his elevation to the presidency upon the death of William Green (1952). When the AFL and the CIO merged in 1955, Meany was elected head of the new federation and was reelected after that without opposition. Angered by reforms in the Democratic party in 1972, Meany was influential in leading the traditionally Democratic AFL-CIO into a neutral stance, supporting neither one of the major candidates in the presidential election. Many observers agreed that this was a significant element in President Nixon's landslide victory. Meany later broke with Nixon, however, and became an early advocate of his resignation or impeachment. A supporter of Jimmy CarterCarter, Jimmy
(James Earl Carter, Jr.), 1924–, 39th President of the United States (1977–81), b. Plains, Ga, grad. Annapolis, 1946.

Carter served in the navy, where he worked with Admiral Hyman G. Rickover in developing the nuclear submarine program.
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 in the 1976 election, Meany later denounced Carter's economic policies.


See J. C. Goulden, Meany (1972).

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Meany, George


Born Aug. 16, 1894, in New York. Leader of the right-wing American union movement.

Meany worked as a plumber from 1910 to 1922. From 1922 to 1934 he was one of the leaders of a local section of the plumbers’ union in New York. From 1934 to 1939, Meany was president of the New York State Federation of Labor. From 1940 to 1952 he was secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). From 1952 to 1955 he was head of the AFL. In 1955, after the merger of the AFL and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), Meany became president of the AFL-CIO.

In 1945, Meany spoke out against the AFL’s membership in the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). After the crearion of the reformist International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in 1949, he became the leader of the group’s extreme right wing, which opposed contacts with the WFTU. An advocate of class collaboration, Meany repeatedly declared that workers and entrepreneurs share the same interests in the strengthening of the capitalist system. During the cold war period, Meany was involved in the persecution of progressively minded union members. Meany opposed the relaxation of international tensions.

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

Meany, George (1894–1980)

former president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1733]
See: Labor
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Meany, George

(1894–1980) labor leader; born in New York City. Active first in the plumber's union, then in the New York state federation of labor, he was elected secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1939, its president in 1952, and president of the AFL-CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) (1955–80).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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