Scope and Content of the Collection
The collection primarily covers relations between officers of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the effects of the Cold War on CIO policy toward Europe and the Soviet Union. Both issues are highlighted by the CIO's participation in the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) from its founding in 1945 to the CIO withdrawal in January 1949. The files concerning the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Trade Secretariats (ITS) also highlight the major issues. The attempt to affiliate the ITS with either the U.N., the WFTU, or the ICFTU, is documented in these records. Significant correspondents include: Mike Ross, Philip Murray, Walter Reuther, Victor Reuther, James Carey, Elmer Cope, Adolph Germer, Jacob Potofsky, Walter Citrine, Louis Sallant, and Arthur Deakin.
These records also provide a detailed look at the relationship between the CIO and the United States government. In this period the U.S. established numerous labor advisory committees to secure organized labor's viewpoint on political and economic issues. Records concerning the following groups can be located in this collection: the Labor Advisory Committee of the Department of Labor, the Foreign Operations Administration Labor Advisory Committee, the European Recovery Project Trade Union Advisory Committee and the Economic Cooperation Administration Trade Union Advisory Committee. The CIO also interacted with the Office of Military Government of Germany (especially the Manpower Division), the Department of Labor's Office of International Labor Affairs, the Department of State's Division of International Labor, Social and Health Affairs, and the labor attaches of the numerous U.S. embassies.
This collection also contains correspondence, reports, clippings, writing, diaries, photographs and memorabilia that Michael Ross created and collected during his career. Although the papers came to the George Meany Memorial Archives (GMMA) from his family, most of the material relates to his work as head of the CIO’s International Affairs Department and is properly described as an addition to RG18-002, CIO International Affairs Department, Director’s Files, Michael H.S. Ross, 1945-1955, of which it is now a part.
The collection also contains letters and reports to and from Ross on international labor developments from the 1940s and 1950s. The material reflects the problems involved in creating a viable international trade union organization, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). The documents also point to important differences of opinion among American labor leaders like the CIO’s Victor Reuther and the AFL’s Irving Brown and Jay Lovestone.