Meany, George

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Meany, George

George Meany, 1894–1980, American labor leader, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO; 1955–79), b. New York City. A plumber, he was elected business agent of his local union in 1922 and rose in 1934 to the presidency of the New York State Federation of Labor. He proved an able lobbyist before the Albany legislature, where he successfully helped promote the passage of 72 prolabor bills. Elected secretary-treasurer of the AFL in 1939, he held that post until his elevation to the presidency upon the death of William Green (1952). When the AFL and the CIO merged in 1955, Meany was elected head of the new federation and was reelected after that without opposition. Angered by reforms in the Democratic party in 1972, Meany was influential in leading the traditionally Democratic AFL-CIO into a neutral stance, supporting neither one of the major candidates in the presidential election. Many observers agreed that this was a significant element in President Nixon's landslide victory. Meany later broke with Nixon, however, and became an early advocate of his resignation or impeachment. A supporter of Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election, Meany later denounced Carter's economic policies.

See J. C. Goulden, Meany (1972).

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