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September 1984, Vol. 107, No. 9
Labor organization mergers
1979-84: adapting to change
More labor organization merged between January 1979 and June 1984 than in any similar period since the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations joined to form the AFL-CIO in December 1955. Since that time, there have been 86 mergers with approximately 35 percent taking place in the last 5½ years.1
Although the constitution of the AFL-CIO strongly endorses the "elimination of conflicting and duplicating organizations and jurisdictions through the process of . . . voluntary mergers," only 20 mergers took place between 1955 and 1965. Disappointed at the slow rate of amalgamation, George Meany declared in December 1965, "I . . . strongly suggest that the responsible officers of many unions, who by all logic and commonsense should merge, might well take a broader look at the union as an instrument of progress for working people rather than an institution devoted to its own perpetuation for the sake of sentiment and tradition."2 The pace of mergers remained slow for the next 2 years, but became brisk between 1968 and 1972, with 19 mergers occurring. Six years of modest merger activity followed. However, the pace picked up again in 1979 and continued through April 1984. Furthermore, merger negotiations are currently taking place among a number of unions and some may end successfully.
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1 The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on this subject in "Union mergers in the 1980's: a look at the reasons and results," Monthly Labor Review, October 1978, pp. 12-23 and "Union merger pace quickens," Monthly Labor Review, June 1971, pp. 63-70.
2 Proceedings of the Sixth Constitutional Convention of the AFL-CIO, Dec. 9, 1965, p. 21.
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