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Congress of Industrial Organizations: the CIO

Congress of Industrial Organizations: the CIO

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One of the great conflicts within the labor movement existed between the Craft Unions and the industrial unions. When the American Federation of Labor indicated reluctance to organize unskilled workers, John L. Lewis created the Committee for Industrial Organization within the AFL in 1935. In following year, unwilling to accommodate the CIO`s demands, the AFL expelled the members of the CIO, who organized themselves into the Congress of Industrial Organizations two years later.Lewis created the Committee for Industrial Organization when he realized that any gains won for miners could be lost if he did not organize such "captive mines" as those held by the steel producers` United States Steel Company, which alone employed 170,000 workers. That exacerbated the schism within the AFL, which refused to accept the new unions because they looked down on both industrial workers and industrial unions as unskilled laborers.Seeing no future for industrial unions within the AFL framework, Lewis withdrew them and created the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1938, of which he became the first president. At the founding convention, conducted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from November 14-18, 1938, Lewis acknowledged the efforts of Samuel Gompers in organizing labor at an earlier stage of the American economy, but pointed out the failure of the AFL to organize the masses of workers in the large industrial companies.At the same time, less than a year before the outbreak of war in Europe, Lewis reminded the financial and business leaders of America that when, as then seemed likely, that America would be drawn into a world conflict, it would be labor, not management and not the owners, who would preserve democracy by their service.In 1940, in an attempt to use his prestige to sway the presidential outcome, Lewis vowed to resign as CIO president if Franklin Roosevelt was re-elected. Walter Reuther of the United Auto Workers became the last president of the CIO, prior to its historic merger with the AFL.Membership in the CIO rose from four million in 1938 to six million in 1945. Although nearly 650,000 members had been in those unions, many rejoined the CIO in unions that had been established as alternatives to the ones that it deemed to be communist dominated.The distinction between a purely craft union AFL, and the primarily industrial union CIO, blurred over the years. The International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) was one of the original CIO unions, but it soon returned to the AFL.Thus by 1952, the year when the presidents of both the AFL and CIO died, the AFL had nearly half its membership in industrial unions. economy.

Watch the video: Brotherhood of Man 1946 - A UAW-CIO video against racism (July 2022).


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