Background of the Struggle
The defeat of the industrial union forces at the 1935 convention of the American Federation of Labor marked a new epoch in American labor history. The establishment of the Committee for Industrial Organization heralded a split in the forces of labor deeper and more permanent than anything in the past. For two decades, the factories, the press, and the legislative halls of the nation were to resound with strife between the contesting groups, each attempting to secure the allegiance of workers and to enroll them within its ranks. Seldom, even where political ideological factors separated segments of a national labor movement, has interunion warfare been more bitter and more violent than that which characterized the American scene beginning in 1935.
During the closing days of the 1935 AFL convention, after the decision had been made against industrial unionism, a small group of trade union leaders representing the industrial union bloc in the AFL met informally to consider the next step. The group consisted of John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers; Charles Howard, president of the International Typographical Union; Sidney Hillman, president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers; and David Dubinsky, president of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. The group discussed "the advisability of keeping the unions favoring the industrial union form of organization for the mass production industries in contact with each other and for cementing their forces for future AFL conventions." 1 It was generally believed that no formal action was taken at this meeting, and that there was merely agreement to meet again to discuss further action. 2 The minutes of the subsequent meeting of the group on November 9, 1935, however -- the date usually given as the birthday of the CIO -- state: "After extended discussion of organization problems in mass production and other corporate controlled