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George Meany
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Advocate
    (August 16, 1894-January 10, 1980)
    Born in New York City, New York
    Birth name was William George Meany
    Labor leader
    Oversaw the merger of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)
    President of the AFL (1952-55) and AFL-CIO (1955-79)
    He did not know his real first name was William until he applied for a work permit as a teen.
    He dropped out of high school to become an apprentice plumber.
    Although he and CIO president Walter Reuther co-operated to merge their two organizations, they later clashed over several issues, prompting Reuther to lead his United Auto Workers out of the AFL-CIO (1968).
    He demanded that unions in the ALF-CIO give 'unqualified support' for the Vietnam War, alienating more liberal union members.
    He ignored calls to hand over leadership of the AFL-CIO to someone younger, staying on as president until he was 85.
    After his father died (1916) and his older brother joined the US Army (1917), he became the sole support for his mother and six younger siblings.
    He was married to Eugenia McMahon (a seamstress and member of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union) for 60 years.
    He took a hardline against union corruption, expelling the Teamsters from the AFL-CIO over Jimmy Hoffa's behavior.
    He lobbied to include a ban on workplace discrimination in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
    He was a member of the first group of recipients of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom (December 6, 1963).

Credit: C. Fishel


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