The American Federation of Labor was a national federation for the labor unions in the United States of America. The American Federation of Labor was founded in the year 1886 on December in Columbus, Ohio by the workers in the craft union.
The Federation of Organized Trades which was founded in the year 1881 is considered to be the precursor of the American Federation of Labor. The Federation of Organized Trades in the late 19th century was replaced by the most powerful industrial union during those times which was the Knights of Labor. The Knights of Labor aimed at absorbing all the craft unions that existed during that time and to do this they had reduced their own autonomy and involved the craft union is political and social disputes that did not correspond to the direct interests of the unions. This was the reason which made the craft unions revolt against the Knights of Labor. In the year 1886 the craft unions organized themselves and introduced themselves as the American Federation of Labor. They formed this under the leadership of Samuel Gompers. The federation was considered to be a loose federation that has just remained in the country for about 50 years.
Initially the American Federation of Labor was looking at the matters that the craft unions were dealing with and was solely dedicated to the principles of the craft unionism. Approximately about100 international and national unions maintained and retained autonomy over their own issues and affairs. This in return helped each union to receive exclusive jurisdiction over the craft. This however provoked many bitter disputes in terms of jurisdiction between the federation and the unions that were affiliated but despite of these issues the union membership continued growing. The Knights of Labor focused on the national political problems and issues but the American Federation of Labors did not do that instead they focused on important aspects like gain the right to bargain together and collectively for sufficient working hours, wages, proper and suitable working conditions and benefits.
In the 1920’s pronounced the first period of prosperity in terms of economy that lacked an expansion of the unionism. In the early and 1930’s and the time when the Great Depression was taking place the growth in the enrollments of the union started decreasing. The administration of the then President of the United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt did bring some new opportunities for the labors in the country. The new political climate which was marked by the Wagner Act in the year 1935 made sure that the employers did not interfere in any kind of union activities and led to the creation of the National Labor Relations Board in order to foster collective bargaining and union organization. Resulting from this the labour movement of the United States of America entered an era of unparallel and unprecedented growth.
At the 1935 convention of the American Federation of Labor questions arose of the fact whether the union organizations should be based on industry and craft which became a huge issue in the convention. Defection was prompted when the industry based resolution states that industrial organizations are the sole solution in the mass production industries. On 1935 in November, the representatives of about eight unions announced and introduced the Committee for Industrial Organization. Later two unions joined the Committee for Industrial organization. The American Federation of Labor retaliated to this by suspending all the 10 unions that were a part of the Committee for Industrial Organization. However, the Committee of the Industrial Organization gained momentum with the organization of the rubber, automobile and key steel industries which helped them make agreements with large corporations in the country like General Motors and U.S Steel. In the next year the American Federation of Labor and the Committee of Industrial Organization started battling for the leadership of the American labour sometimes by trying to systematize the same workers.
The escalating conservatism in the U.S national labor policies and the Taft-Hartley Act in the year 1947 made the unions renew political activity. In order to oppose to the new law the Committee of the Industrial Organization joined the American Federation of Labor. However, this political unity turned into union solidarity. After the head of the Committee of Industrial Organization, Phillip Murray passed way in the late 1953; Walter P. Reuther was made the president of the Committee of Industrial Organization. After three long years in the year 1955, the American Federation of Labor and the Committee of the Industrial Organization merged together. About one third of all the nonagricultural workers were a member of this new entity however membership declined thereafter.
Due to the increase in decline of the union memberships about fiver international labour unions which were the SEIU, Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), Union of Needletrades, United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) all merged together in order to form the UNITE HERE, which later in the year 2003 joined together in order to form and create the New Unity Partnership (NUP). The New Unity Partnership (NUP) was an informal coalition that was formed in order to advocate for the reformation of the AFL-CIO, and highly emphasized in organizing efforts in order to promote the growth of unions.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) since then has been working hard in order to make sure the labors of the country do not face any kind of problems and help and support them during any kind of issues that arise in their workplace. Since then the AFL-CIO still exists and working towards their goal to make lives better for the working class. They work tirelessly in order to improve the lives of the people who are working I the country. Currently they are a voluntary and democratic federation which consists of about 55 international and national labor unions that almost represent about 12.5 million working women and men.
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