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The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, commonly known as AFL-CIO, is a national trade union center. The labor organization is the largest federation of unions in the United States which consists of 54 national and international unions (including Canada), representing more than 10 million workers. It was formed in 1955 when the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merged after a long estrangement. From 1955 until 2005, the AFL-CIO's member unions represented nearly all unionized workers in the United States. The largest union in the AFL-CIO is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), with more than a million members. The membership of the AFL-CIO has reduced greatly since 2005 when several large unions split away from the federation.

Support/opposition to ballot initiatives

The AFL-CIO influenced the following ballot measures:




South Dakota


Washington State





The Colorado branch of the AFL-CIO is part of Protect Colorado's Future, which is opposing:




North Dakota


The AFL-CIO is helping fund Defend Oregon, to which it has donated $100,000. Defend Oregon opposes:




The AFL-CIO is a federation of international labor unions. As a voluntary federation, the AFL-CIO has little authority over the affairs of its member unions except in extremely limited cases (such as the ability to expel a member union for corruption (Art. X, Sec. 17) or adjudicate and enforce resolution of disagreements over jurisdiction or organizing). As of January 2007, accounting for the disaffiliation of the Change to Win Federation unions, the AFL-CIO had 54 member unions.

Membership in the AFL-CIO is largely unrestricted. Since its inception as the American Federation of Labor, the AFL-CIO has supported an image of the federation as the "House of Labor"—an all-inclusive, national federation of "all" labor unions. Currently, the AFL-CIO's only explicit restriction on membership excludes those labor unions whose "policies and activities are consistently directed toward the achievement of the program or purposes of authoritarianism, ­totalitarianism, terrorism and other forces that suppress individual liberties and freedom of association..." (Art. II, Sec. 7). Under Art. II, Sec. 4 and Sec. 8, the AFL-CIO has the authority to place conditions on the issuance of charters, and formally has endorsed the policy of merging small unions into larger ones. In 2001, the AFL-CIO formally established rules regarding the size, financial stability, governance structure, jurisdiction, and leadership stability of unions seeking affiliation.


The AFL-CIO is governed by its members, who meet in a quadrennial convention. Each member union elects delegates, based on proportional representation. The AFL-CIO's state federations, central and local labor councils, constitutional departments, and constituent groups are also entitled to delegates. The delegates elect officers and vice presidents, debate and approve policy, and set dues.

Executive council

The AFL-CIO has three executive officers: president, secretary-treasurer and executive vice president. The executive vice president is the most recently established office; it was created by constitutional amendment in 1995. Each officer's term is four years, and elections occur at the quadrennial convention.

Executive committee

An executive committee was authorized by constitutional change in 2005. The executive committee is composed of the president, vice presidents from the 10 largest affiliates, and nine other vice presidents chosen in consultation with the executive council. The other two officers are non-voting ex officio members. The executive committee governs the AFL-CIO between meetings of the executive council, approves its budget, and issues charters (two duties formerly discharged by the executive council). It is required to meet at least four times a year, and in practice meets on an as-needed basis (which may mean once a month or more).

External links


  1. Rocky Mountain News: "Initiative's foes raise $1.5 million," May 1, 2008
  2. MIRS Capitol Capsule July 14, 2008, "AFL-CIO Unions Helped Bankroll RMGN"

Portions of this article were taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.