George Meaney Ê

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George Meaney

1894- 1980

U.S. Labor Leader

Labor leader George Meany was born in New York City in 1894 and became a plumber at the age of 16. He joined a union in 1922, then moved from the Plumber's Union to the American Federation of Labor (AFL).

He became president of the New York branch in 1934, and secretary-treasurer of the national union six years later. In 1952, Meany succeeded William Green as president of the AFL and was a major force in the merging of the AFL with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1955.

Meany was the first president of the AFL-CIO, and was reelected without opposition. He was a dedicated anticommunist and supporter of US involvement in the Vietnam War.

This led him to defy the union tradition of supporting Democrats when he refused to support George McGovern's 1972 Presidential candidacy because of McGovern's anti-war platform.

Meany later became a critic of President Carter's policies.