American Federation of Labor

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  • The American Federation of Labor (AFL), a confederation of labor unions, was established in the United States in 1886. Developed as a craft-based “labor aristocracy” limited to skilled workers, it became the nation's leading labor federation. With over fifteen million members in 1955, it merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO); the resulting organization was known as the AFL-CIO.

    In December 1886, thirty-eight trade unionists met at Druid's Hall in Columbus, Ohio, to create a new, nationwide labor federation to promote the aims of local skilled workers’ unions. The AFL's first leader, Samuel Gompers (1850–1924), was a cigar maker who served as the organization's president from its inception until his death in 1924, with the exception of 1894–1895. Under his dynamic leadership, efforts were undertaken ...

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