The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is a voluntary federation of about 56 national and international labor unions in the United States. The separate AFL and CIO merged in 1955. For many people in the United States, the AFL-CIO is synonymous with the word union.
There are three layers in the structure of the AFL-CIO. First, there is the local union. This is the union the worker joins, and to which he or she pays dues. The local union also usually signs the collective bargaining agreement determining the wages and working conditions. The local is in turn a single chapter in the national union. The third layer in the structure is the national federation, in this case, the AFL-CIO.
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