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February 1995, Vol. 118, No. 2
T his year marks the 40th anniversary of the merger of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations into a single entity. The unification of the two major groups of labor unions in 1955 ended a nearly two decade rivalry that was sometimes contentious and costly. It placed most unionized workers under one umbrella labor organization, and brought together 135 affiliated unions.1 The formation of the AFL-CIO led to expectations that there would be mergers among constituent unions, particularly those with overlapping jurisdictions. Despite the 1955 AFL-CIO constitution encouraging mergers, unions were relatively slow getting together.
Since the AFL-CIO amalgamation, 133 mergers have occurred.2 (See table 1.) During the first two decades following the creation of the AFL-CIO, 48 mergers occurred, while 45 mergers occurred during the following decade alone. This 1976-85 period was the busiest decade in terms of Union mergers. Afterward, the pace slowed somewhat to 40 mergers during the 1986-94 period.
Historically, there have been three types of mergers: between two AFL-CIO unions, between an AFL-CIO union and an independent union, or between two independent unions. During the first two decades following the AFL-CIO formation, 50 percent of the mergers were between two AFL-CIO members, 35 percent were between an AFL-CIO union and an independent union, and 15 percent were between independent unions. Since 1975, 54 percent of the mergers have been between AFL-CIO unions, even with a reduced number of member unions. However, 40 percent of the mergers have been between and an independent union and an AFL-CIO union, and only 6 percent have been between two independent unions.
This excerpt is from an article published in the February 1995 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Directory of National and International Labor Unions in the United States, 1957 Bulletin 1222 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1957), p.4.
2 As in previous studies, this study includes unions that were affiliated with the AFL-CIO or unaffiliated unions that have collective bargaining agreements with different employers in more than one State (except those meeting requirements for exclusive recognition). Professional or State employee associations are included if they reported that they engaged in collective bargaining or representation activities and claimed membership in more than one State or, if claiming membership in only one State, they represented employees in two counties or more within the State. Every effort was made to include all unions and associations meeting these standards.
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