Meany, George

Meany, George

biographical name

(born Aug. 16, 1894, New York, N.Y., U.S.—died Jan. 10, 1980, Washington, D.C.) U.S. labour leader. A plumber by trade, he joined the United Association of Plumbers and Steam Fitters in 1915 and rose through the ranks as a union official. He was elected secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1939 and became its president in 1952. He led the merger of the AFL and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1955, helping reconcile the two federations despite their competitiveness and long-standing differences. Conservative and anticommunist, as president of the AFL-CIO (1955–79) he steered the U.S. labour movement away from radicalism. Feisty and often dictatorial, he expelled the Teamsters union from the AFL-CIO in 1957, and he lost the United Automobile Workers in 1967 after disputes with Walter Reuther. Meany wielded considerable influence in the Democratic Party through the 1970s.

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