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The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations traces its origin back to 1955. It was first the American federation of labor only, formed in 1886 and later joined together with the congress of industrial organization, which was founded in 1935 (Michin, 2017). AFL replaced Knights of Labor (KOL), which was the most powerful union at the time. KOL engaged in other political concerns that did not propagate the interest of the association and therefore became weak to the point of being replaced by AFL. This happened at the beginning of the 19th century. For over half a century, AFL becomes the most influential union under the leadership of Samuel Gompers.
The union defended craft labor and accepted employees from all backgrounds and not the whites only. AFL at this time, that is, the early 19th century did not engage in political issues but instead concentrated on attaining collective bargaining of wages, working house, and conditions for a worker under their union. During the great depression, the labor force faced a big blow. However, under the leadership of President Roosevelt, the Wagner Act was passed, which prevented employers from interfering with the activities of labor unions. At the same time, the National Labor Relations Board was formed to support the labor unions.
There was a controversy over the distinction between craft and industry, which to the formation of the CIO in 1935. CIO organized steel rubber and other automobile industries. In 1936, there were struggles between AFL and CIO over American labor, as they tried to hold the same workers. In the year 1938, CIO adopted a new name, Congress of Industrial Organization, with the new president being John L. Lewis. The same year, Lewis lead a strike against the General Motors company in a "sit-down" strike tactic. In 1940, Lewis resigned, and his position was occupied by Philip Murray, who was his deputy, following the reelection of Roosevelt. CIO organized employees of several big corporations such as Ford Motor Company and steel companies to sign a treaty with them.
As the years progressed, political influence was re-recorded in the agendas of the labor union, causing a meager between AFL and CIO in 1955 (Siegel, 2018). There has been a revolution over time in AFL-CIO over the years, even to date. Following the merger, members in the labor union decreased significantly, with the agriculture sector being the main members. The general organization of the union has union delegates, which in their capacity, elect the president who has a term of four years. The executive team of the association includes the president and the vice president, secretary-treasurer, the executive vice president, and fifty vice presidents. They meet twice a year, and also with the executive council of other member labor unions. The key responsibilities are to organize the labor efforts, offer political support in the legislation of bills which deemed to be of benefits to the labor union.
These labor unions have significantly impacted today's workplace in that the working conditions and wages are better to give affordable life for the workers. It has also reduced discrimination in the workplace and promoted gender equality, where even women can secure jobs as men. Workers have a place where they can give their grievances and are sure of protection. This has seen increased productivity per worker due to increased satisfaction. Therefore, labor unions are having played a significant role in the workplace.
Minchin, T. J. (2017). Labor under fire: A history of the AFL-CIO since 1979. UNC Press Books.
Siegel, C. M., & lAMAW Pat Shea, C. W. (2018). AFL-CIO.
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