Troubled in Citadel of Organized Labor
Crucial Autumn Meetings of Labor Federation
The combined labor federation brought into being nearly six years ago after long and difficult negotiations between the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations is threatened today by both internal and external challenges. Bitter jurisdictional conflicts between craft and industrial unions have been getting in the way of vigorous efforts to organize the unorganized, while friction among top A.F.L.-C.I.O. leaders has inevitably worked against fully effective functioning of the federation. In the meantime, the independent and aggressive International Brotherhood of Teamsters, led by James R. Hoffa, has shown ambitions to gather in members from all quarters and build a general labor organization to compete with the A.F.L.-C.I.O.
Affairs of the federation may attract more than usual public attention in the next few weeks and months. A meeting of the General Board has been called for Oct. 9 in New York City to map organizing activities in a stepped-up membership drive ordered by the Executive Council earlier this year. The Executive Council itself convenes in New York on Oct. 10 for a showdown on the jurisdictional question. And in December the biennial A.F.L.-C.I.O. convention at Miami Beach will provide a test of the authority of George Meany, president of the merged federation since its establishment at the end of 1955. Walter P. Reuther, an A.F.L.-C.I.O. vice president and leader of its industrial union wing, reportedly has under consideration an attempt to wrest the presidency from Meany.
Decline in Membership of Affiliated Unions
Some of the current strains in the labor movement are traceable to a persistent decline in membership among the 139 A.F.L.-C.I.O. affiliates. It was asserted six years ago that the merger had brought under one organizational roof approximately 15 million workers, including members of Canadian locals, or between 85 and 90 per cent of all union members in the United States and Canada.