Dec. 5 marks the anniversary of the merger of the AFL and CIO in 1955. As we look toward the future, we remember that we can learn a great deal about ourselves as a movement of working people coming together from the past.
Thanks to the University of Maryland, we can easily access George Meany's speech at the first joint AFL-CIO Convention in New York City.
Listen to parts 1 and 2 of the speech below, and check out the preamble to the AFL-CIO Constitution. We hope you find it as inspiring today as we do:
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations is an expression of the hopes and aspirations of the working people of America.
We resolve to fulfill the yearning of the human spirit for liberty, justice and community; to advance individual and associational freedom; to vanquish oppression, privation and cruelty in all their forms; and to join with all persons, of whatever nationality or faith, who cherish the cause of democracy and the call of solidarity, to grace the planet with these achievements.
We dedicate ourselves to improving the lives of working families, bringing fairness and dignity to the workplace and securing social equity in the Nation. We will prevail by building a strong, free and democratic labor movement.
We will organize workers into unions allied by common purposes and mutual reliance. We will recruit generations of organizers, amass resources to sustain their efforts and inspire workers to achieve dignity and security through organization and collective bargaining. We will generate broad understanding of the necessity of organizing among our members, our leaders and all unorganized workers.
We will give political voice to workers in the Nation. We will fight for an agenda for working families at all levels of government. We will assemble a broad progressive coalition for social and economic justice. We will create a political force within the labor movement that will speak forcefully and persuasively on the public issues that affect our lives.
We will enable workers to shape a changing global economy. We will speak for working people in the international marketplace, in the industries in which we are employed and in the firms where we work. We will expand the role of unions to securing worker influence in all the decisions that affect our working lives, from capital investment to the quality of products and services to how work itself is organized.
We will establish unions as active forces in our communities. We will make the voices of working families heard in our neighborhoods. We will create vibrant state, local and community labor councils. We will strengthen the ties of labor with our allies. We will speak out effectively and creatively on behalf of all working Americans.
With confidence and trust in the inherent power and goodness of our people and in the virtue and promise of unionism, we proclaim this Constitution.