The Labor Wire
Dec. 5, 2018
Sixty-three years ago today on Dec. 5, 1955, American Federation of Labor President George Meany (UA) and Congress of Industrial Organizations President Walter Reuther (UAW) stood before a packed crowd of union leaders and labor activists at the 71st Regiment Armory in New York City. Together, they held up a massive walnut gavel and hammered it against the dias, bringing to order the first Constitutional Convention of the AFL-CIO. “I feel that this is the most important trade union development of our time,” reflected Meany. “Let us face the future confident beyond question that the cause we espouse is a good cause—confident beyond expression that the things we ask for are just and proper.”
In the years since, the AFL-CIO has advanced our cause in every corner of the country, living up to those first delegates’ vision of their new federation as “an expression of the hopes and aspirations of the working people of America.”
Joining together under one banner, the convention delegates pledged themselves to the fight ahead in the preamble to the AFL-CIO’s first constitution—a commitment that still drives us today:
“We pledge ourselves to the more effective organization of working men and women; to the securing to them of full recognition and enjoyment of the rights to which they are justly entitled; to the achievement of even higher standards of living and working conditions; to the attainment of security for all the people sufficient to enable workers and their families to live in dignity; to the enjoyment of the leisure which their skills make possible; and to the strengthening and extension of our way of life and our democratic society.”
Take a moment today to embrace our history as a movement and listen to Meany’s 1955 address—then help carry that legacy forward by taking action alongside your union brothers and sisters.