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AFL-CIO Legislation Department, Testimony

 Collection 0052-LBR-RG21-002

The AFL-CIO Department of Legislation acts as the lobbying arm of the AFL-CIO, with their original purpose being defined by the AFL to run convention business, carry out convention instructions, and monitor legislative measures directly affecting the question of labor. This collection consists of testimony and statements made primarily by officers and employees of the AFL and later AFL-CIO to Senate and House committees on a variety of economic, social, and political issues dating from 1953 to 1994. The collection is supplemented with Congressional correspondence and fact sheets relating to testimony.


  • 1953-1994

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


24.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of the Collection

The AFL-CIO Department of Legislation is responsible for tracking, monitoring, and lobbying for legislation in Congress that directly affects the labor movement. This collection documents testimony and statements made primarily by officers and employees of the AFL and AFL-CIO to Senate and House committees on a variety of economic, social, and political issues. Also included is some correspondence accompanying testimony or statements. There are also a few speeches and addresses to non-governmental organizations, and fact sheets. Materials date from 1953 to 1994, although researchers interested in testimony from the year 1992, and 1995-present should contact the collection curator for more information.

For a list of people who provided testimony or statements in these records, see the external document below.

Biographical / Historical

At its founding convention in 1881, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (FOTLU) formed a Legislative Committee which was given responsibility for the administration of convention business, carrying out convention instructions, and to monitor "legislative measures directly affecting the question of labor."(1) Following the reorganization of FOTLU as the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886, labor's involvement in the legislative process increased, and the Legislative Committee assumed a more active role as the federation's national lobby before Congress.

In 1896 President Samuel Gompers obtained convention approval to appoint the AFL's first salaried legislative representative to maintain a permanent office in Washington, D.C. The convention chose Andrew Furuseth, then lobbying for various seamen's unions, to act in this capacity. In 1906 the AFL issued its "Bill of Grievances," outlining major legislative goals and marking the beginning labor's intensified campaign to elect pro-labor candidates and defeat unfavorable candidates.

Original records of the Legislative Committee from 1906 to 1919 are scanty. (See page 336, vol. II, History Encyclopedia Reference Book for a list of Legislative Committee members through 1924.) In 1919 Gompers appointed William C. Roberts to serve as committee chairman. Roberts held this position until his retirement in early august 1939. William C. Hushing, who had served as a legislative representative under Roberts, was appointed to succeed him.

With the merger of the AFL and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1955, the offices of the AFL Legislative Committee and the CIO Legislative Department were combined to form the AFL-CIO Department of Legislation. The new department was placed under the co-directorship of Hushing and Robert Oliver, former director of the CIO Legislative Department. Following the retirement of Hushing and the resignation of Oliver, Andrew J. Biemiller was appointed department director in 1956. Biemiller held this position until his retirement in December, 1978.

Cited (1) Report of the First Annual Session of the Federation of organized Trades and Labor Unions of the U.S. and Canada, 1989, p.11.

Sources Carroll, Mollie Ray, Labor and Politics: The Attitude of the American Federation of Labor Toward Legislation and Politics. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1925.

Robinson, Archie, George Meany and His Times, a Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981.

Taft, Philip. The AF of L in the Time of Gompers. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957.

Taft, Philip. The AF of L from the Death of Gompers to the Merger. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1959.

American Federation of Labor. History, Encyclopedia and Reference Book. 3 vols., 1919, 1924, and 1960.

Organization of the Collection

The series are arranged chronologically by year in this collection. The series are as follows:

Series 1
Series 2
Series 3
Series 4
Series 5
Series 6
Series 7
Series 8
Series 9
Series 10
Series 11
Series 12
Series 13
Series 14
Series 15
Series 16
Series 17
Series 18
Series 19
Series 20
Series 21
Series 22
Series 23
Series 24
Series 25
Series 26
Series 27
Series 28
Series 29
Series 30
Series 31
Series 32
Series 33
Series 34
Series 35
Series 36
Series 37
Series 38
Series 39
Series 40
Series 41
Series 42

Custodial History

The Legislation Department transferred these records to the George Meany Memorial Archives between 1982 and 1997. 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.

Processing Information

This collection has been processed to the folder level and materials were weeded of duplicates and press releases (duplicated in RG20-003).

Sarah Springer at the George Meany Memorial Archives initially processed these records in 2008. The University of Maryland Libraries received the records and the finding aid in 2013. 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 aid was ingested into ArchivesSpace in 2018, at which point Rebecca Thayer updated the descriptive content for accuracy. Revisions include changes to biographical/historical notes, scope and content notes, and the creation of new collection numbers. Rebecca Thayer also enhanced custodial histories and re-wrote collection titles to better conform to archival standards.

Guide to the AFL-CIO Legislation Department, Testimony
Finding aid created by Sarah Springer at the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archives.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742