The AFL-CIO is a federation of labor unions and workers formed in 1955 as a result of the merger of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), which together became the largest labor organization in the United States. This entry examines the history and role of the AFL-CIO in the United States.

The AFL was founded by Samuel Gompers in 1886 at the height of campaigns to protect workers in the American economy’s shift to industrial production. Originating with the craft and trade unions of skilled workers such as shoemakers, typesetters, and metal workers, the AFL was slow to recognize the value of cheap, unskilled workers—minorities, immigrants, and women—who threatened the livelihoods of its membership base of mostly white, English-speaking ...

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