- Congress of Industrial Organizations
- (CIO)Faced with declining trade union membership following the onset of the Great Depression and with members facing reduced hours or wages, in 1934 elements within the American Federation of Labor (AFL), led by John L. Lewis of the Mineworkers Union, began to call for the organization of unskilled workers on an industrial basis. Lewis was joined by of the Amalgamated Clothing workers union, David Dubinsky of the International Ladies Garment Workers, and others in 1935 to form the Committee for Industrial Organizations which, in 1938, became the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). Encouraged by New Deal legislation, first in the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) and then in the National Labor Relations Act that recognized the right to free collective bargaining, the CIO began the struggle to organize steelworkers in 1936. The Steel Workers’ Organizing Committee (SWOC), led by Philip Murray, overcame the traditional ethnic and racial divisions among the workforce and won recognition from the U.S. Steel Corporation in 1937. In 1936 the United Automobile Workers began sit-down strikes to secure recognition in the auto industry, and in 1937 General Motors conceded defeat. Although Henry Ford and the “Little Steel” companies still refused recognition, by 1940 CIO membership had outstripped that of the AFL.Lewis was replaced by Philip Murray as leader of the CIO in 1940 when the mine workers leader endorsed Wendell Willkie rather than Franklin D. Roosevelt. During the war, the CIO supported the nostrike pledge in 1941, although the extent of wartime strikes in 1943 was sufficient to lead to the passage of the War Labor Disputes Act, a forerunner of the postwar Taft-Hartley Act limiting union freedom of action. Nonetheless, CIO membership rose to about 5 million during World War II. In addition, the CIO became more closely associated with the Democratic Party through the Political Action Committee established by Sidney Hillman and Philip Murray in 1943 to bypass the restrictions on political activities imposed by the wartime labor legislation.After the war, the CIO attempted to continue the working relationships established with the government and business during the war, but this was undermined by the outbreak of strikes in 1946 and the later Taft-Hartley Act. Attempts to organize southern textile workers in Operation Dixie were a complete failure. The Cold War also had an impact as left-wing groups and individuals like Harry Bridges were expelled from the organization. When Walter Reuther succeeded Murray as president in 1952, he began to lead the CIO toward cooperation with the AFL, and the two finally merged in 1955.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.