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AFL-CIO a federation of autonomous labor unions in the United States Canada Mexico Panama and US dependencies formed in 1955 by the merger of the American Federation of Labor AFL and the Congress of Industrial Organizations CIO Heavily involved in politics the AFL-CIOs primary function is to lobby on behalf of organized labor and mediate disputes between its member unions In 1999 the AFL-CIO included 68 national and international unions that had a US membership of over 13 million people 1 The organization has five operating levels Ultimate authority is vested in those attending its biennial convention but between conventions the organization is run by an executive council which is composed of the executive officers president secretary-treasurer and executive vice president and 51 vice presidents Executive officers handle the day-to-day operations of the organization and they are advised by a general board consisting of the executive council members a chief officer of each affiliated union and of each programmatic department within the AFL-CIO and four regional representatives from the 51 state federations In addition to these levels of authority the AFL-CIO carried over autonomous departments from the AFL such as the Building Trades Dept and added an Industrial Union Dept to handle the problems of the former CIO unions The unions 13 programmatic departments handle the work of the federation including labor organizing political education legislation civil rights and worker safety and health 2 History American Federation of Labor In 1881 representatives of workers organizations meeting in Pittsburgh formed the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in the United States and Canada In 1886 at another conference in Columbus Ohio this group reorganized as the American Federation of Labor Opposed to the socialistic and political ideals of the Knights of Labor the AFL was instead a decentralized organization recognizing the autonomy of each of its member national craft unions Individual workers were not members
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