The CIO Challenge to the AFL: A History of the American Labor Movement, 1935-1941

By Walter Galenson | Go to book overview

1
Background of the Struggle

Formation of the Committee for Industrial Organization

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

-3-

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The CIO Challenge to the AFL: A History of the American Labor Movement, 1935-1941
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Wertheim Publications in Industrial Relations i
  • Wertheim Publications in Industrial Relation ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Contents xiii
  • Tables xiv
  • Illustrations (following Page 620) xv
  • Author's Preface xvii
  • 1 - Background of the Struggle 3
  • 2 - The Organization of Steel 75
  • 3 - The Automobile Industry 123
  • 4 - Coal Mining 193
  • 5 - The Electrical and Radio Manufacturing Industries 239
  • 6 - The Rubber Industry 266
  • 7 - The Men's Clothing Industry 283
  • 8 - The Women's Clothing Industry 300
  • 9 - The Renascence of Textile Unionism 325
  • 10 - The Meat Industry 349
  • 11 - The Lumber Industry 379
  • 12 - The Petroleum Industry 409
  • 13 - The Maritime Industry 427
  • 14 - The Teamsters 459
  • 15 - The Machinists 495
  • 16 - The Building Trades 514
  • 17 - Printing and Publishing 530
  • 18 - Railroad Unionism 566
  • 19 - Some General Aspects of the Labor Movement 583
  • Notes 645
  • Index 715
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