The Executive Council is the executive body of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the AFL-CIO, and was responsible for the conduct of the federations' affairs between the annual conventions. The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) also had an established executive board for the same purpose. This collection consists of AFL executive council minutes from 1893 to 1955, AFL-CIO executive council minutes from 1955-1996, and the CIO executive board proceedings from 1942-1955.
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51.25 Linear Feet (31 Paige boxes, 9 Document boxes, and 4 half size document boxes)
The Executive Council was the executive body of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and continued this roll after the merger of the AFL and the CIO in 1955, and to present day. The Coucil is the governing body of the AFL-CIO in between the biennial conventions. The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) also had an established executive board for the same purpose. This collection consists of AFL executive council minutes from 1893 to 1955, AFL-CIO executive council minutes from 1955-1996, and the CIO executive board proceedings from 1942-1955.
The AFL-CIO Constitution empowers the Executive Council to carry out the decisions of the conventions and enforce the constitution. Article VIII states that the Executive Council "shall meet upon the call of the President at least three times within each year at a time and place designated by the President." The first meeting of the AFL-CIO Executive Council was held on the first day of the first consitutional convention, December 5, 1955.
These minutes record the date and place of each meeting, as well as attendance. They are not verbatim. There is little information on discussions or the stance of each council member. Dicisions and actions are summarized. Topics include: Implementation of the AFL-CIO merger (1955-1958); jurisdictional and internal disputes; ethical practices of affiliated internationals (1956-1959); applications for affiliation; legislation; finances; name changes of affiliated internationals; international labor organizations and activities; "Right-to-work" laws (1958-1959); strikes; organizing activities; financial contributions; and U.S. Foreign relations.
The minutes are mostly bound in chronological order, however some minutes are unbound and organized in folders. Appendixes, which appear at the end of the minutes, contain Executive Council statements, Executive Council resolutions, reports of committees and some departments, and other documents presented to or discussed by the council. Indexes for minutes, and frequently for appendices, appear in the front of the minutes. Blue sheets separate minutes of different meetings; some have tabs that indicate the dates. A card index of unions and people discussed in the minutes is available in the archives.
The AFL-CIO Constitution states that "the Executive Council shall consist of the President, the Vice Presidents and the Secretary-Treasurer." From the merger until 1969, there were twenty-seven vice presidents. During most of 1962 and 1963, one VP position was unfilled. Below is an alphabetical list of Executive Council members (with offices and dates of terms) who served between the merger and 1969.
AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting locations, 1955-1996
This collection is organized into three series:
Article VII of the AFL-CIO Constitution directs the Secretary-Treasurer to oversee the recording of Executive Council meetings, and as such, the Executive Council Minutes for 1955-1965 were stored in the Office of the Secretary-Treasurer until their transfer to the George Meany Memorial Archives in May 1991. Additional records representing other dates would have been received by the George Meany Memorial Archives sometime before 2013. The George Meany Memorial Archives transferred these records as part of a major transfer of their archive and library holdings to the University of Maryland Libraries in 2013.
Archives staff at the George Meany Memorial Archives initially processed these records sometime before 2013. The University of Maryland Libraries received the records and the finding aid in 2013. In the summer of 2013, when the collection materials were being prepared to move by the UMD Preservation Department, evidence of mold was discovered on the bound volumes of council minutes. As a result, all volumes were cleaned and reboxed. Also at this time, boxes were assigned sequential box numbers across the then three collections: AFL Executive Council Minutes (RG4-008), CIO Executive Board Minutes (RG4-009), and the AFL-CIO Executive Council Minutes (RG4-006). The majority of the minutes were bound chronologically, however some remain unbound and housed in folders. There are several years of minutes that are unbound, with laminated pages.
In 2017, Bria Parker exported and cleaned the finding aid contents from the Eloquent Systems database using OpenRefine, and finally transformed the finding aids into Encoded Archival Description (EAD) using a series of programmatic scripts. The finding aids for RG4-008 and RG4-009 were ingested into ArchivesSpace in 2017, at which point Jennifer Eidson updated the descriptive content for accuracy. RG4-006 was not ingested because there were plans to combine the three collections into one. Revisions to RG4-008 include changes to scope and content notes, and the creation of new collection numbers. Jennifer Eidson also enhanced custodial histories and re-wrote collection titles to better conform to archival standards.
In 2020, Jennifer Eidson combined the three original separate collections into one (RG4-008) collection with three series, to coordinate with the sequential box numbering assigned in 2013. RG4-009 was removed from ArchivesSpace. Updates were made to the series descriptions, box record instances, collection extents, and barcodes were assigned.
AFL Executive Council Minutes in Series 1 of this collection may overlap with minutes in AFL Executive Council Correspondence, Minutes, and Vote Books (0066-LBR-RG4-004), Series 2 which is "Executive Council Minutes, 1906-1914."