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Senator Bernie Sanders weighs in for graduate workers as they rally across the country

On Nov. 9, 1935, the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) was formed. The CIO evolved from the Committee for Industrial Organization which was created as a subgroup within the AFL structure. Growing tensions, however, prompted the CIO to morph into a non-AFL group, an act that would lead to their expulsion from the AFL a few months later.

The rift was fueled by competing ideas about organizing production workers and accepting African-Americans and women into labor unions. The AFL wanted to keep their mainly skilled workforce separate from what they viewed as lesser skilled industrial workers so as to protect their craft. But the CIO saw division by craft as impractical for mass production facilities and less powerful for workers because it would create division among crafts.

But by the 1930s and booming mass production industrial unions for workers on the assembly line made industrial unionism a necessity. In 1935, at the AFL’s convention, John L. Lewis proposed the AFL form an industrial union with the initial members coming from the International Typographical Union, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, the ILGWU, the United Textile Workers, the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union, the Oil Workers Union and the Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers.

The AFL was opposed to the idea, and punches flew at the meeting. Lewis was undeterred and formed the CIO just a few weeks after that divisive convention. The CIO’s growth took off and over 600,000 workers in nearly 1,500 plants would create 358 more CIO locals with contracts. In 1955 the CIO would rejoin the AFL to form the AFL-CIO. #UnionHistory #PROUAW ... See MoreSee Less