Talk:George Meany

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Needs work[edit]

I haven't tackled this article, because I favor wholesale revisions over incremental changes, but it needs work. In addition to fleshing out the Lovestone/AIFLD discussion, which needs more detail, the article also needs to address the AFL-CIO's position within the Democratic Party during his tenure, its stance on civil rights and affirmative action, the anti-corruption campaign and organizational issues within the AFL-CIO. The reference to UE and the RWDSU seems out of place too; that's CIO history, from a few years before Meany succeeded Green, and not worth including in this article. Italo Svevo 04:20, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I'd temporarily disagree that events prior to 1952 are outside the scope of a Meany biography. The CIO stuff is out of place, sure. But William Green's health was so poor in the last four or five years of his life that Green had turned day-to-day operation of the AFL over to Meany. From what I can ascertain from a surface reading of just a few sources, Meany's presidency really began a half-decade prior to his actual presidency. - Tim1965 22:33, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

I'm no expert. I just came to the page in search of a quote I recalled and was shocked at the brevity and sketchiness of the page. This was a guy whose face was on the nightly news and whose name was on the front page of the papers pretty much daily for decades. He had huge power and influence. Google turns up a single quotation (the one about what plumbers charge) for a man who had a great deal to say and often said it well and memorably. The specific quote I was looking for (and I hope it ends up on this page if anyone can track it down) was to the effect that he didn't care if a [specific boondoggle of a cost-overrun military plane] rolled out of the Boeing factory and straight into the ocean as long as building it kept 50,000 of his union members employed (bad paraphrase fifty-some years after the fact). Dmargulis (talk) 00:50, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

Upgraded importance[edit]

I'm upgrading the importance to high. Meany's presidency marks the beginning of the "modern" AFL and AFL-CIO, and his actions and policies led directly to the events of the Kirkland presidency and the 1995 Sweeney revolt. There are superb biographies and other sources out there about Meany's presidency, and there is no reason why this shouldn't be a priority. - Tim1965 22:33, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Jefferson Cowie, author of Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class, say that Meany's decision not to support McGovern was the turning point in the relationship between Labor and the Left in the US. Almost universally the Labor and the Left wing in politics are allies -- sometimes they are just about indistinguishable. With the McGovern candidacy in the US, however, the Left and the Labor movement had a messy divorce and this unusual situation is still with us 40 years later. (See Cowie's Salon interview.)
By this light Meany emerges as one of the shapers of the modern political landscape -- an extremely important man. --Jeffreykegler (talk) 01:20, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
I removed this tirade. We have policies about due weight, NPOV, and reliable sources. The Monthly Review Press and New Left Books/Verso don't meet the standards of reliable sources.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 12:31, 8 July 2011 (UTC)


Meany was a great believer in cooperation of labor and capital. During his presidency, the AFL and then the AFL-CIO supported anticommunist policies. Trade-unions deemed leftist, including the United Electrical Workers and the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Employees of America, were dismissed from the CIO by the early 1950s. AFL-CIO unions then cooperated with employers to raid and decertify leftist unions. Meany was a strong advocate of the Vietnam War.[citation needed]

Meany was friends with Jay Lovestone, the former Communist Party USA official who became anti-communist. Lovestone established the Free Trade Union Committee (now known as the American Center for International Labor Solidarity) as the overseas organizing agent of the AFL. During Meany's tenure, Lovestone worked to establish non-communist and pro-American unions around the world. During the course of this work, the AFL collaborated with Latin American dictatorships against communist, radical, or opposition trade unions.[1]

He is famous for having said toward the end of his tenure that he had "never walked a picket line in his life." He was succeeded by Lane Kirkland.

On December 6, 1963, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Johnson.


I have written a major expansion of this article in my sandbox and have just merged it. Comments and improvements are welcomed. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 04:57, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

I think that you did a fine job. You can see my from my edits specific concerns.
I would question the statement "he liked to boast that he never walked a picket line". Do we have citations where he said that 2 times? (In general, strikes are failures of communication/information. If one could predict the outcome of a strike, then both parties would have an incentive to reach that outcome by bargaining (and avoiding a strike). See the Handbook of Labor Economics, vol. 1 I believe, which has a chapter on strikes.) This is something said with disdain/contempt by New Leftists, of course. Does it really belong in an encyclopedia article? Is it so important?
 Kiefer.Wolfowitz 09:57, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
The presentation of Meany as an apologist for capital is one-sided. There are plenty of discussions where Meany identifies himself as a social democrat or democratic socialist: See the quotation in Michael Harrington's Socialism for example.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 10:00, 18 November 2011 (UTC) There is a discussion with quotations of [Michael [Harrington]]'s various views on Meany in the SDUSA criticism of Harrington, after he resigned in 1973, in the article posted by Carrite (and a great librarian!).  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 15:57, 19 November 2011 (UTC)


Should possibly mention in some way that Meany kind of inaugurated the bureaucratic phase of labor unionism in the United States, with a strong emphasis on consolidating and institutionalizing gains already made, but relatively little focus on explaining larger goals (beyond immediate improvements in working conditions and wages), relatively little attempt to reach out to new populations of workers not included in the traditional unions, and relatively little emphasis on explaining to the increasing number of people who considered themselves to be solidly middle class why unions were still relevant to them. That was a part of why U.S. unions as a whole went into a strong decline beginning right around the time he resigned/died...

Also, Meany was not a neanderthal for opposing gay marriage in 1972 (an issue which very few people took seriously at that time). AnonMoos (talk) 15:36, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

Hi AnonMoos,
Like your name!
Gompers built the AFL to survive in the inhospitable U.S., where the ship of socialism ran aground on shoals of roast beef and mashed potatoes. I've never read any RS refer Meany as the originator of what is often called "business unionism" by Marxists. I can take you on a tour of closed auto-plants in the MidWest to suggest at least one alternative explanation of decline in unions (!) Adam Przeworski had a student, Goldfeld I think, who found more political explanations.
You are welcome to draft additions, based on in-line citations to reliable sources, here, and get feedback. Cullen328 has improved the article to B-level now, and so we should be careful to document additions with reliable sources.
Thanks,  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 19:13, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
I meant that little was done to expand union support or membership beyond the the traditional hard-core base, so that when this base was eroded by the decline in U.S. manufacturing etc., there was no plan B, and the trajectory of union numbers was pretty much constantly downhill from that time on. Obviously Meany couldn't have single-handedly reversed overall long-term economic and political trends, but it seems like a lot more could have been done in other ways to at least lessen the decline somewhat, with a little bit of imagination and willingness to work with various groups. I'm only going on what I remember reading in the 1980s (would have no idea how to re-find what I remember reading back then)... AnonMoos (talk) 20:36, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
Since Sweeney took office, the AFL-CIO increased the resources devoted to organizing and partisan electoral-campaigns (and not spending them on other member services). Has that made a dent in the decline of unionization? Slowed it, even? Have the member unions just shifted the burden of organizing to the confederation? Goldfeld found that management opposition to unions became more intense, on top of and perhaps even more important than deindustrialization.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 21:16, 20 November 2011 (UTC)


Cullen328, you should suggest a "hook" for a Did You Know? I'll nominate it for you, if you haven't had experience.

BTW, somebody should review the DYK nomination for Constantinos A. Patrides,

Did you know
... that Constantinos A. Patrides, the author of Milton and the Christian tradition, earned a medal for heroism for his boyhood service with the Greek Resistance against the German Occupation?

a Renaissance scholar who (as a boy) ran messages for the Greek Resistance against the Axis Occupation of Greece, so earning a heroism medal from the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 21:19, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

How about: Did you know that AFL-CIO president George Meany described his trade union federation's stand on the Vietnam war as "neither hawk nor dove nor chicken" in 1967?
I would be grateful if you would make the DYK nomination. I understand that folks are expected to review some nominations, and I am not quite sure what that entails. Perhaps you could give me a few tips for the future. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 21:43, 20 November 2011 (UTC)


Kiefer Wolfowitz, I plan to reduce the length of the lead. I am not aware that the AFL was ever a part of the World Federation of Trade Unions. I thought they had boycotted it from its founding. Am I wrong? Cullen328 Let's discuss it 21:46, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

I may have been wrong. Continue flying your eagle course!  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 08:04, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

Mike Quill[edit]

This is cited properly, but is it really worth putting in a short biography of Meany?

"Mike Quill of the Transport Workers Union of America also fought the merger[2], saying that it amounted to a capitulation to the "racism, racketeering and raiding" of the AFL.[3]

  1. ^
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference LIFE55 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ Lichtenstein, Nelson (1997). Walter Reuther: the most dangerous man in Detroit. University of Illinois Press. p. 323. ISBN 9780252066269. 


Why not quote other Communists, recently former Communists, and Trotskyists? Much as I like the Transit Workers of NYC, this is hardly a national labor leader.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 08:04, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

Quill broke with the Communist Party in 1948, well before the AFL-CIO merger. The TWU by the 1940s was clearly a national union affiliate of the CIO, representing transit workers in many cities other than New York. I chose to quote Quill because he was the president of TWU for many years, and a close ally of New York mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. at the time of the merger. I don't think he can be so easily dismissed. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:14, 16 June 2013 (UTC)

Preliminary thoughts on GA potential[edit]

This article appears to me very close to ready for GA--close enough that you could go ahead and nominate it right now. The sourcing and writing both look good and this seems likely to cover the "main aspects".

A few suggestions:

  • Ideally, the lead should touch on each section of the article. I'm also not sure I see a citation for "reputation for personal integrity" later on in the body, but I may have missed it--I'm working very quickly. (Perhaps it can be inferred by the Hoffa conflict?)
  • Try to reduce the number of very short sections and one-paragraph sentences per WP:LAYOUT. (part of criterion 1b)
  • "New Politics" needs DAB
  • The bare URL for ref 29 should be filled out. Technically, a bare URL isn't a problem for GA status, but if it goes dead and has no other information, it's no longer considered verifiable, and GA status could be revoked.

Thanks for your work on this important figure! -- Khazar2 (talk) 11:37, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

1972 Presidential election[edit]

Maybe this is not the best place to ask this, but I recall a political cartoon of Nixon and McGovern playing chess. Meany had just flipped over the board throwing pieces everywhere. This came out right after meany had announced he was not supporting either candidate. I have been looking for this and thought it might be a nice addition to the article. Anyone have suggestions where to find it? Jokem (talk) 15:55, 25 March 2014 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:George Meany/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: CorporateM (talk · contribs) 06:27, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

I am way passed due to make some contributions to GA reviews, given how many noms I do. I did a GA review a while back on something related to this and it's the oldest one in the GA review queue for business topics, so it's sensible for me to take it on. I'll be providing some first-look notes in waves below CorporateM (Talk) 06:27, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

First lookover[edit]



  • I think the first sentence of the second paragraph needs some copyediting. It's not clear who "he" is referring to, and "but moved on" could probably be replaced with just "and"
"He" refers, of course, to George Meany, and the purpose of the phrasing "moved on" is intended to indicate that the change from an ordinary working plumber to a paid union official was a major career change. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:09, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
I knew what was meant by "he" and "moving on", but since his father was just being discussed in the prior sentence, we should avoid ambiguous phrases like "he" unless it's clear which "he" we're referring to. I don't dispute whether his career change was major or not, but just calling it a career change (for example) would work. He didn't literally "move on" after all, that's a turn of phrase. CorporateM (Talk) 08:10, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
I have rewritten the sentences taking your concerns into consideration. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 16:03, 11 July 2015 (UTC)


  • "uncompromising anti-communism" could do with less metaphorical language ("uncompromising") and more clarification. What is meant by this?
What is meant is that a truly major ideological split in the 20th century American trade union movement was between those who were sympathetic or accommodating to communism, and those who rejected it forcefully (without compromise). Meany was indisputedly in the second camp, and we need language that makes that crystal clear. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:09, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
Something more specific for example might be something like "He advocated in favor of anti-communist principles during the Red_Scare#Second_Red_Scare_.281947.E2.80.931957.29 second red scare, a period in which many Americans were fearful of increasing communist influence." "uncompromising" is another turn of phrase. His willingness (or lack thereof) to compromise isn't really what we're talking about. What is meant is that he had strong views. CorporateM (Talk) 08:10, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
I find it striking how often sources writing about Meany use intensifying adjectives when describing his anti-communism. I will abbreviate it as AC for brevity. I found "outspoken AC", "vigorous AC", "too inflexibly AC", "notorious AC", "quintessential cold warrior and AC", "fierce AC", "strong willed AC", "strident AC", "stalwart AC" and the AFL-CIO under his leadership "a bastion of AC". I believe that "uncompromising" summarizes these sources well, but as always, am willing to consider other wording. As for the so called Second Red Scare, which I call McCarthyism, Meany's anticommunism predated it and lasted long after McCarthy was a discredited figure. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 23:03, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
I have just added the Washington Post obituary of Meany to the article, which I just found online today. It says that he was "uncompromisingly opposed to communism and Communists in all their guises." Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:03, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
  • He was called the "most nationally recognized labor leader in the country for the more than two decades spanning the middle of the 20th century."[2] <-- Anything that is quoted should have attribution to who said it. I would also prefer if this was near the top, as it's his claim to notability, which usually goes first. If we could get it out of quotes and paraphrase it, that would be even better.
This quote is cited to "The Columbia Guide to Irish American History", where the quote appears at the beginning of the section about Meany. I believe that quoting is preferable to paraphrasing when making a strong assertion like this, but I am willing to reconsider. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:59, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
A few comments. WP:MOSQUOTE says that attribution should be used "to present emotive opinions that should not be expressed in Wikipedia's own voice." Wikipedia:Quotations says "Attribution should be provided in the text of the article, not exclusively in a footnote or citation." MOSQUOTE says that paraphrasing versus quoting is optional, but I personally agree with Wikipedia:Quotations, when it says "Where a quotation presents rhetorical language in place of more neutral, dispassionate tone preferred for encyclopedias, it can be a backdoor method of inserting a non-neutral treatment of a controversial subject into Wikipedia's narrative on the subject, and should be avoided." Meaning quotations often insert editorialized, non-neutral language from the source that wouldn't otherwise be seen as acceptable.
I have paraphrased the assertion. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 16:03, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
Regarding the source itself, I see that it's a sort of directory of short bios on notable figures. Is it reliable enough for such a bold claim? CorporateM (Talk) 08:35, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
Given that it is published by Columbia University Press, my opinion is that it is an ideal source for a sweeping claim. More importantly, I am unaware of any reliable source that would call anyone other than Meany the best known mid 20th century US labor leader. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 16:03, 11 July 2015 (UTC)


Early life[edit]

  • "plumber's union local.[5]" was this intended to be "local plumber's union"?
No, in the parlance of the American trade union movement, "local" is a noun rather than an adjective. A "local" is the lowest level branch of a union, operating usually in a defined geographical area. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:13, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
Please see Local union for an explanation of the terminology. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:25, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
 Done Understood. CorporateM (Talk) 08:36, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "That union had been formed in 1889. Michael Meany was also a precinct level activist in the Democratic Party." This is a bit too much information about his father, IMO, but since it is sourced to an article about Meany, it's fair game. My suggestion would still be to trim it.
I believe that a few sentences about his father's background, which clearly influenced Meany's career as discussed in many biographical sources, are worthy of inclusion. If you disagree, I will remove mention of his father's Democratic Party activism. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:17, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
 Done Now that I've gotten further down the article, I see that his son also got involved in politics, so the relevance is a little more clear. Suggest leaving it be. CorporateM (Talk) 08:37, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "Following in his father's footsteps" <- Metaphorical language should be avoided. Can we find a way to re-word this that is more literal?
I have changed this to "Following his father's career path".Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:22, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
 Done Works for me, though I would go with something more like "He pursued a similar career as his father, doing ____" so there's no "following" going on either, but this is fine too. CorporateM (Talk) 08:38, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "Following in his father's footsteps, Meany quit high school at the age of 16[7] to work as a plumber's helper,[4] served a five-year apprenticeship as a plumber, and got his journeyman's certificate[5] in 1917 with Local 463 United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters of the United States and Canada.[2]" <-- a bit of a run-on; needs to be split into two sentences.
I have broken this into two sentences. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:29, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
 Done Just marking this off so I can keep track of which ones are closed CorporateM (Talk) 08:40, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "became the sole support for his mother and six younger children", the sole "supporter"?
The cited source uses the phrase "sole support" so I have paraphrased to "sole source of income". Cullen328 Let's discuss it 17:26, 11 July 2015 (UTC)


  • "They had three daughters." <-- unsourced
I have cited that to the New York Times obituary, where it is the final sentence. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 17:21, 11 July 2015 (UTC)



  • "Rise in union leadership" <-- would probably be better just as "union leadership"
I changed it. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 16:21, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
 DoneCorporateM (Talk) 22:56, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "which was then considered an innovative tactic for a union" <- this could use some explanation/context
The cited source on page 328 describes his use of the injunction as "innovative" and says that it scandalized the old timers in the labor movement. Previously, injunctions were used by management against labor, not by labor against management. I believe that I summarized the source accurately, but will think about another way to phrase it. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 16:21, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Can we include a brief description of "World Federation of Trade Unions" like "of the union trade group, the World Federation of Trade Unions" (or something along those lines), to give readers some context, without having to click on the link
I have expanded that part a bit, clarifying the fact that the WFTU was widely seen as communist controlled, and that Meany opposed participation in it from its very beginning. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 16:38, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "Meany, in a blow against Lewis and other left-wing union leaders, replied that he would "go further and sign an affadavit that I was never a comrade to the comrades."[4]" <-- "in a blow" is more metaphorical language. I'm not sure I understand the significance of his quote or what he means by it. Did he do anything specific and significant about this subject other than comment on it?
I rephrased, eliminating "blow". The quote comes from the New York Times obituary, and in my opinion, represents Meany's clever and cutting rhetorical style. By "the comrades", he means communists in the U.S. labor movement. Employing double use of the word by saying "never a comrade", he states that not only was he not a communist himself, but also that he never had friendly relationships with the communists. He ostracized them. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 16:44, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
As for what he did specifically, he used his considerable power to make union leaders sign the loyalty oath that many objected to. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 16:46, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  • The second half of the second to last paragraph is unsourced
I believe that every paragraph in the article is now referenced. Please let me know if I have missed anything. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:49, 12 July 2015 (UTC)


  • There seems to be a compelling argument to "merge" (pun intended) this with the prior section, where the merge is already mentioned and there is some redundancy. Sub-sections could be used to break it up a bit.
The merger of the AFL and the CIO is now a subsection of union leadership. I also moved the ILA corruption paragraph to the more appropriate section. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 17:29, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Second half of the first paragraph is unsourced
I believe that every paragraph in the article is now referenced. Please let me know if I have missed anything. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:50, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "greatest achievement" <- as a quote, we need attribution to who said it.
I attributed that to Time magazine. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 23:53, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

Campaign against corruption[edit]

  • This is a very long section title and like the prior one covers something already mentioned in the main union leadership section. I would recommend a Career section with a sub-section on combatting corruption.
I shortened the section title, and as noted above, moved the ILA paragraph here. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 17:31, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  • The first paragraph is unsourced
I believe that every paragraph in the article is now referenced. Please let me know if I have missed anything. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:51, 12 July 2015 (UTC)

Democratic economic planning[edit]

  • In general, we shouldn't include it every time an article-subject makes a comment about something. It's unclear to me whether he did something of significance here? It just says he made comments.
I merged it into the legislative agenda section. He wasn't making an offhand comment; he was setting policy for a powerful political interest group. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 17:33, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

Legislative agenda[edit]

  • Same, can we merge this somewhere? The Manual of Style discourages small sections. CorporateM (Talk) 07:57, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
Merged as described above. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 17:34, 11 July 2015 (UTC)


I would still encourage more consolidation. The bottom half of the article is mostly made up of one paragraph sections and many of them are on similar subjects. It's not prescriptive, but here's an example of how I would probably structure it:

Early life

Early work
AFL President
Against corruption
Against communism
Later years


CorporateM (Talk) 23:05, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

Although I have not adopted your specific structure, I have consolidated and merged several sections based on your advice. Here are some thoughts: Mentioning the predecessor AFL in that structure, but not the AFL-CIO, is a bit strange. The creation of the merged federation was his greatest accomplishment and it was leadership of the AFL-CIO for decades that made him a truly national figure. Creating a section called "advocacy" is also a bit problematic, as I see it. I see an "advocate" as either an attorney or some sort of activist. He was not an attorney nor an activist. He was an elected forceful leader of union groups, initially with thousands of members, then hundreds of thousands of members, then millions of members. He was not an "advocate" but rather he hired and fired advocates, and gave them their marching orders. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 03:48, 12 July 2015 (UTC)

A few more notes[edit]

Lead  Done

Early life

  • "staunch trade unionist" -> suggest something like "strong union supporter" per our discussion about editorialized quotes. If you prefer to keep it, it should at least have attribution.
I paraphrased it instead. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:05, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "That union had been formed in 1889." <- probably trimmable
Factoid removed. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:10, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "pneumonia" -> suggest wikilink
Wikilinked, along with Myocardial infarction piped to heart attack. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:21, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  •  Done That's all I have for this section

Union Leadership

  • Can we give the first several paragraphs a sub-section?
I created subsections for his New York years, and his Washington, DC, years before the merger creating the AFL-CIO. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:37, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "a full-time business agent" <- what is meant by this?
"Business agent" is a term that any reader familiar with the day-to-day workings of U.S. trade union movement will understand instantly. But I think that most readers will understand it at least roughly based on the plain meaning of the words. Merriam-Webster defines it as "one that handles business affairs for another; esp :a paid official of a union local who administers union business with its members and with the employer." So, it is similar to "local office manager" or "branch manager" in a corporate context. I see no need for further explanation. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:45, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "New York City Building Trades Council" <- need to tell the reader what this is
Clarified. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:57, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • What is a lockout? Can we wikilink it?
The exact opposite of a strike. I have wikilinked it. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:16, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Can we call them something besides "old-timers"? ;-)
For your sake, I have called them "older leaders". I was tempted to call them alter kockers but refrained. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:16, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "New York State Federation of Labor." <- need to tell the reader what it is
I added a clarifying clause. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:16, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "In his first year of lobbying in Albany" -> Suggest wikilink for Albany. Also, was this sentence intended to mean he was lobbying Albany city laws?
Wikilinked Albany, explained it is the state capital, clarified that is it was the state legislature that he was lobbying. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:57, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "He developed a reputation for honesty, diligence and the ability to testify effectively before legislative hearings and speak clearly to the press." Because this is such a bold claim, I would prefer the source follow it directly. The source does look strong enough to support it.
I added the Zieger source right after this. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:41, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "In 1936, he co-founded a ____ organization called the American Labor Party" - same, reader needs to know what it is
Clarified that it was a New York pro-union political party. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:41, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "among other Socialists in the union movement"?
There is no doubt that Meany was close to the anti-communist moderate socialists and that Michael Harrington (who I admired and once met) tried to classify Meany as some kind of socialist. But Meany never self identified as a socialist and was never a member of an overtly socialist group. The ALP was probably closest. So, let's not imply that he himself was a socialist. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:48, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "or.[7] where he served un" <-- needs a comma instead of a period
Corrected typo. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:00, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "under AFL president William Green. During World War II, he was one" Suggest calling him by name (Meany) to avoid ambiguity with "he" potentially referring to William Green in this case
  • "close ties" -> "close relationships" to avoid metaphors
  • "U.S. labor movement" <- is there a wikilink? What movement is this? This is long before I was born, so I don't know what it's referring to. Or was it meant to refer to organized labor interests in general.
More so your final sentence. It is the common phrase describing the shared informal alliance among unions, who have certain interests in common. It is not a formally organized movement, though the AFL-CIO strived with only moderate success to unite it. Again, those interested in the topic will understand it while those unfamiliar should have a rough concept by the plain meaning of the words. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:00, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Some suggested copyediting: "The strike wave of 1945-1946, led to a large extent by CIO unions, resulted in passage of the Taft Hartley Act in 1947, which was widely perceived as anti-union in its effects." Also was Meany influential in this? Besides his comment it doesn't explain his involvement. Usually something like this will say "under his leadership"
I added a cited observation that almost all non-communist union leaders signed the affidavit after Meany insisted they do so, and that the Supreme Court upheld it. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:00, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • You've got a period followed by a comma after "Green's death"; appears to be a typo



  • "and was later called a communist front group." This is currently unsourced and requires a very strong one
I added a source from Oxford University Press. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 21:18, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "fighting back" -> more metaphors. "In response" The rest of this looks much clearer now, but rather than "making it clear", which I presume is your opinion, I would say something like "meaning that he ostracized even having relationships with communists." (or something)
I rephrased using less metaphors. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 21:25, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "which occurred just 12 days after the death of Congress of Industrial Organizations president Philip Murray. Walter Reuther of the United Auto Workers became president of the CIO." still unsourced. Actually my suggestion would be to push the last couple sentences or so into the beginning of the section on the merger
I added a 1952 newspaper source that comments on the fact that these two key union federation leaders died 12 days apart. Reuther taking control of the CIO at that time is common knowledge reported in hundreds of sources. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:25, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
I also moved the material about the deaths of Murray and Green to the merger section, since those deaths precipitated the merger negotiations. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:44, 16 July 2015 (UTC)


  • See the Citation Needed annotations.
I added references there. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 22:13, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • A lot of hyper-editorialized quotes, most of them could be replaced with an NPOV summary of their argument
If you are referring to the three quotes from union leaders opposing the merger, I believe that their use is appropriate here. These were not random people, they were powerful senior union leaders. As I see it, the quotes express the intensity of their opposition in a useful way. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 21:48, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

 Done Nothing else for this section besides these two CorporateM (Talk) 16:44, 15 July 2015 (UTC)


  • Citation 36 is a broken link and a primary source
  • Citation 29 is a broken link and looks to be a primary source? Would have to see it
I removed the paragraph about the National Labor College, since it closed down last year. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 22:15, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
I updated the URL and the title from the website of the Kennedy Presidential Library. It is not really a primary source which would be the actual text of the executive order. It is the library's contemporary description of the founding of the modern award, which lists Meany as among the first recipients. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 22:39, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

 Done The other sources all look good at-a-glance. CorporateM (Talk) 16:56, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

A few more unsourced statements from other areas of the article:

  • "In 1968, Reuther led the UAW out of the AFL-CIO, and the UAW did not re-affiliate until after Reuther's death in a 1970 plane crash."
I added several sources about the Reuther-Meany feud, covering all the assertions. I also copy edited for detail and clarity. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:01, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "As an anti-communist who identified with the working class, Meany expressed contempt for the New Left, which from the start had criticized the labor movement for conservatism, racism, and its anti-communism, and which in the late 1960s and early 1970s included many supporters of Communist movements, such as the Viet Cong." (note BLP requires in-line references right next to the statement when it's this bold of a statement)
Though I am not sure what the BLP issue is since Meany is long dead and the New Left was an amorphous movement, I have added two sources. One is a book that is entirely about the relationship between unions and the New Left, which discusses the broader issues in great detail. The other is a specific page in another book about widespread New Left support for the Viet Cong. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 02:32, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
Oh, oops, good point, about him being long dead. I'm use to writing articles about the living! CorporateM (Talk) 03:15, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "According to Meany, class resentment was a major reason that Nixon won 49 states against McGovern, despite the dislike of the Vietnam War by a majority of American voters."
Although I believe that this statement is true in general, I have removed it. This was added by another editor several years ago who liked to add unreferenced assertions, knowing that I was not in the mood to fight with him. I have found no record of Meany using the term "class resentment" in this context, and such a phrase was not in his rhetorical style, in my opinion. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 03:19, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "In November 1979, he retired from the AFL-CIO after a 57 year career in organized labor. He was succeeded by Lane Kirkland, who served as AFL-CIO president for the next 16 years."
I added a source for Meany's retirement and Kirkland taking over. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 22:56, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

Against corruption section[edit]

  • What is an anti-corruption drive?
I changed that to "a campaign to reform that union" which I think is more clear. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 19:49, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I think the second paragraph could be trimmed to be just the first sentence of the following paragraph, as Meany's response is what's most relevant to his profile
  •  Done That's all I have for this section. I made various copyedits directly. CorporateM (Talk) 07:24, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

Legislative agenda[edit]

  • I would suggest "political views" as being more NPOV
I changed it to "political goals". He was not a pundit, idly expressing opinions for pay or attention. He was establishing a political agenda for a very powerful organization. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:15, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
  • It would be a substantial improvement if all of the quotes, or at least most of them, were taken out, re-written, etc.
  • This section appears to be out-of-sync in the article's chronology. It could go near the bottom where Views sections often go, but if not, it looks like it at least goes someplace after the Vietnam war
I moved the section later in the article, as you requested. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:42, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

Vietnam war[edit]

  • "Meany defended the stated goals of President Lyndon B. Johnson's policy in the Vietnam War" This sounds like a euphamism for saying he supported the war. Is there a specific "policy" this is referring to?
I copy edited the first two sentences for clarity and to eliminate equivocation. In my opinion, there is no need to recapitulate Johnson's Vietnam War policies in this article, which are well known and described, appropriately, in much greater detail elsewhere in the encyclopedia. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:07, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "Sniping" at Meany, Reuther issued "demands" "to make the AFL-CIO more 'democratic'".[22] In his speech to the convention, Meany said that, in Vietnam the AFL-CIO was "neither hawk nor dove nor chicken",[20][23] but was supporting "brother trade unionists" struggling against Communism.[20] <- This is really on-target for what the quotations document was referring to, where quotes are used to add language that would not otherwise be considered encyclopedic.
I disagree with your interpretation here, and think that you are over-emphasizing the arguments against including quotations as a back-door way of introducing a point of view into an article. The only point of view here is summarizing what reliable sources said about Meany, which is the essence of the neutral point of view. The manual of style says that careful use of properly selected and cited quotes is a "fundamental attribute" of a well-written Wikipedia article. Meany was well-known for his gruff and colorful language. Almost all lengthy profiles of Meany in reliable sources included a few of his zingers. I have selected the quotes now in the article carefully, to show his rhetorical style, and also to show his opinions on important controversies of his life and times. I have already removed many quotes. I think that those remaining are justified. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:27, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
As for the famous "hawk, dove and chicken" quote, it appeared on Wikipedia's main page on December 3, 2011 as a DYK. It combines two common political bird analogies of the 1960s with a third bird analogy in a totally original way, and the quote is representative of Meany's style of speaking. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:34, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
This is not a "careful" use of quotes though. If we compare
  • "Sniping" at Meany, Reuther issued "demands" "to make the AFL-CIO more 'democratic'"
  • "Reuther insisted Meany make AFL-CIO more democratic"
I think the second is clearly more neutral than the first and it is not a careful use of quotes when there is a quote literally every few words. I wouldn't be comfortable passing this as GA with this kind of language in it, however, you are welcome to seek another opinion. CorporateM (Talk) 07:04, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
I agree with you about this specific sentence, so I paraphrased instead, and moved it to the Reuther section where it is more appropriate.Cullen328 Let's discuss it 19:45, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  • As an anti-communist who identified with the working class, Meany expressed contempt for the New Left, which from the start had criticized the labor movement for conservatism, racism, and its anti-communism, and which in the late 1960s and early 1970s included many supporters of Communist movements, such as the Viet Cong.[24] [25] <-- Run-on and extra space between the refs
I broke this into two sentences and eliminated the extra space. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:50, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "dirtynecked and dirty-mouthed group of kooks." same
I truly believe that this is a perfect example of Meany's rhetorical style, speaking about one of the major cultural and political events of 1968, the Chicago Democratic Convention riots, and removing it or trying to paraphrase it (which would be impossible), would damage the article. I strongly recommend keeping it. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:50, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  • A cultural conservative, Meany ridiculed a proposal for same-sex marriage.[26] <- would suggest in a Views-type section
If you believe that this does not belong, I will remove it. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:50, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
I think it belongs in the article, just not in this section. It would fit well in the Legislative Agenda section. CorporateM (Talk) 07:08, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Vietnam war and social turmoil I think would be more neutral
Do you disagree that "social turmoil" is an appropriate two word summary of U.S. society in the late 60s and early 70s? Which reliable sources say otherwise? Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:50, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
I don't feel strongly about this, but I got the impression there was a very direct relationship between him and the Vietnam war, whereas social turmoil just happens to be something that was going on at the same time. It's not a question of whether it's an accurate description of the decade, but whether it's an accurate depiction of that period in his life. Meany himself did not experience any significant social turmoil afterall, as far as I know, though I imagine most of his life involved quite a bit of it. CorporateM (Talk) 07:11, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
Your final sentence is self-contradictory. Yes, Meany dealt with social turmoil his entire adult life. For decades, dealing with "social turmoil" from his point of view clearly focused on the fight against pro-Soviet communist influence in the labor movement. But for the last 15-20 years of his life, the turmoil became much more complex and he was dealing with challenges on many fronts: the civil rights movement, a wide variety of left wing groups of various ideologies burrowing into the trade union movement, the women's movement, militant anti-war activism, and increasingly sophisticated critiques of AFL-CIO strategy by people like Walter Reuther, and that strategy was almost totally shaped by Meany. As he was old and inflexible in those latter years, his capacity for a nimble response was limited. My comment is less about article content than about your understanding, as GA reviewer, of the historical context. I urge you to take a broader historical look. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:48, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Similar with the last paragraph regarding quotes
I have made my thoughts clear about quotes in this article. If you truly believe specific quotes are not appropriate, then please say so and I will remove them. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:50, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

Civil Rights[edit]

  • " he was visibly moved...Speaking of Meany, Randolph commented "I have never doubted that he had the moral conviction that racial discrimination was wrong." I think it would suffice to say they agreed on the topic, without the quote.
I paraphrased the quote. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 21:29, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
  • This also seems potentially out-of-sync with its order in the chronology and its place in the article. Because it has to do with the merger though, I might suggest incorporating it as a sub-sub section, under the Merger, even though this is out of chronology
Actually, the disagreement with Randolph, a close Reuther ally, took place 8 years after the AFL-CIO merger was completed. I think another editor was motivated to add the stuff about setting up the institute and Randolph saying that Meany was not a racist because of the fact that Meany opposed endorsing the 1963 civil rights March on Washington, and that editor was concerned that fact might imply that Meany was a racist. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 21:29, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

Later years[edit]

  • There's a double "and" in the first sentence
I rewrote that sentence and hope that I have addressed your concerns. If not, please let me know.Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:31, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
  •  Done That's all I've got here

Honors and cultural impact[edit]

  • I think the original "legacy" title was more NPOV and a pretty standard section on deceased BLPs. "Honors" wreaks of an "Awards" section which are almost always promotional
I changed it back. I have few worries about promoting a guy who died 35 years ago. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 21:23, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
The existence of commercial benefit is not required for an article to have a promotional tone CorporateM (Talk) 07:23, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
How is it possible for a biography of a person who died 35 years ago to be "promotional"? Improving an encyclopedia article about an indisputably notable historical figure is not promotional. I have bent over backwards to take your concerns into consideration. He has no fan club these days. That is a bizarre observation, unless people are proposing to build a George Meany theme park. Which they are not. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:05, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
I've seen this argument alot on open-source projects that have no commercial element that are often written as a blatant advert. The content is still inappropriate for an encyclopedia, even if nobody benefits from it. Regarding "Bending over backwards", I am bending over backwards for YOU, because this article qualified for a quickfail given that so much of the page was completely unsourced. I have invested a substantial amount of time on it because you seemed to have the initiative to continue improving it and it was close enough. It wasn't really GAN-ready. CorporateM (Talk) 16:47, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
That is an interesting observation, CorporateM. Back in 2013, on the talk page of the article, an editor called Khazar2 expressed another opinion. That editor has completed over 350 GA reviews. Here is what he said: "This article appears to me very close to ready for GA--close enough that you could go ahead and nominate it right now. The sourcing and writing both look good and this seems likely to cover the 'main aspects'." Different reviewers have radically different interpretations, it seems. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 03:13, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "In granting the award, Johnson said of Meany, "Citizen and national leader, in serving the cause of labor, he has greatly served the cause of his Nation and of freedom throughout the world."[38] This is most likely a scripted statement. I would prefer if we just said something like "for his contributions to the labor movement" (much more neutral)
Of course, it is a scripted statement. So was the Gettysburg Address, as we have Lincoln's handwritten notes as evidence. "Scripted" does not mean "exclude from the encyclopedia", since we include many quotes from Shakespeare. And many other scripted quotes. But in response to your concerns, I have paraphrased the statement. I am 99% sure that Kennedy selected Meany for the award, not Johnson. Lacking confirmation in a reliable source, I will not even hint at that in the article. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:36, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The quickfail criteria is here if you're interested and one of the criteria is any Citation Needed tags that are still relevant. CorporateM (Talk) 07:46, 19 July 2015 (UTC)

The article had no Citation Needed tags when I nominated it and none that I know of for several years previously. I responded promptly to every one of your concerns so I have no idea why you are discussing quickfail in this context. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:58, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "and appeared twice on the cover of Time magazine, with a cigar in his mouth both times." This is OR
I added another source to the two already in the article discussing Meany's cigar smoking, and the role that played in his public persona. I copy edited the statement which I hope will reduce your concerns. As for original research, that does not include simple counting, in this case of something self-evident in an image, especially counting to the number "two". Two Time magazine covers, an important symbol in popular culture in those days. Look at the images, how many show him smoking a cigar? "One, two". That is not original research, that is a referenced observation of an important aspect of his public persona. I could add many more sources on his cigar smoking, but then you would correctly say that I was over-citing. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:16, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
It's original research because a reliable source didn't say "He was on the cover of TIME smoking a cigar". You found the issues yourself and decided personally that it was significant and that the most relevant point was that he was smoking a cigar. It's a reasonable observation in this context, but however reasonable, it's still OR. CorporateM (Talk) 06:55, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
Although I disagree completely with your opinion that counting two major graphic elements on two magazine covers is "original research", especially when backed by another source which mentions how common the cigar imagery was on the covers of publications, I have changed the wording in response to your concerns. I have no further interest in arguing the point, especially since I hate all forms of tobacco smoking. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:05, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "Meany stated that he had never walked a picket line,[6][8] explaining that his original plumber's union never needed to form a picket line, because the employers made no attempt to replace the workers.[42]" This seems a little out of place. Is there a better section to put it under?
This is another aspect of Meany's public persona that I think is worthy of inclusion in a biographical article about him. It is in contrast to many other major American union leaders, most of whom "earned their spurs" in militant strike actions. Walter Reuther, for example, was hospitalized after a beating by Ford goons at the Battle of the Overpass. For those interested in U.S. labor history, the fact that Meany admitted that he had never picketed or led a militant strike action is a very important aspect of his life story. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:44, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
Yah, I'm just confused about it being in the Legacy section. It makes a reference to the plumber's union, and his work there is covered near the beginning of the article. CorporateM (Talk) 07:19, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
I take your point. I moved it earlier in the chronology, to the point when he left the plumber's union, and became professionally involved with the broader union movement. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:05, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
  • "Among those attending the ceremony..." Probably isn't necessary for us to know who attended. Generally speaking the mere attendance of a person at an event is usually something that is best trimmed.
Since you think that it is inappropriate to mention the participation in this event by Meany's successor, the head of the Israeli Labor Party, and the mayor of Jerusalem, I have reluctantly removed mention of this square in Jerusalem. I would not want readers to assume that it was a trivial honor organized by non-entities. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:58, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
I would probably lean towards mentioning the significant politicians, but maybe not the others. Up to you. CorporateM (Talk) 07:28, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
Given your expressed concerns, I think that is best to keep mention of the Jerusalem square out of the article at this time, at least until we have stronger sourcing. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:19, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

Wrapping it up[edit]

I am just about prepared to pass this article as meeting the "Good Article" standard. The main problems of the article (unsourced content and excessive, editorialized quotes) appear to have been resolved and the remaining quotes are reasonable for the purposes you have described. Any remaining comments are just areas where different editors would probably do the same thing slightly differently and do not pertain to the GA standard.

The only remaining item I think is that I cannot pass it as GA if it has any original research at all. The statement "pictures of him often appeared in newspapers and magazines smoking a cigar"; unless one of the sources say this directly, is also original research. If you can take that out, or show that one of the sources directly say this, I can pass it.

If you disagree, I encourage you to seek a second opinion. CorporateM (Talk) 16:54, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

Source #40, describing the relative strength of the labor movement in the 1960s says, "George Meany's cigar smoking visage and gruff pronouncements regularly adorned newspaper front pages." Plus, we have the links to the Time magazine covers, showing him smoking cigars. In one case, source #43, the cigar penetrates the border of the picture. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 02:45, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
Here is a quote from the New York Times Magazine in 1985: ""In the public mind, the image of big labor today is still stereotyped in the cartoonists' version of longtime A.F.L.-C.I.O. leader George Meany: a baleful- looking figure with a bulging belly and a clenched cigar, hurling monkey wrenches at the White House and the Capitol". Cullen328 Let's discuss it 03:33, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
What you quoted from source 40 should suffice! CorporateM (Talk) 06:45, 19 July 2015 (UTC)

Improving this article further[edit]

Noting here the changes I made to the article, mainly to add in some of the biographical and other sources, plus some more 'legacy' material. Pinging User:Cullen328, as the following would help take the article forward further:

  • Meany, George by David Brody from American National Biography
  • Joseph C. Goulden, Meany: The Unchallenged Strong Man of American Labor (1972)
  • Archie Robinson, George Meany and His Times (1981)
  • Philip Taft, The AFL from the Death of Gompers to the Merger (1959)
  • Robert H. Zieger, American Workers, American Unions, 1920-1985 (1986)

The latter four are part of the bibliography recommended by Brody. Carcharoth (talk) 20:58, 12 August 2016 (UTC)

Thank you very much for your work to improve this article, Carcharoth. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 02:13, 13 August 2016 (UTC)
No problem. I managed to read the article several times and not see this error, which someone else was kind enough to point out to me. Amazing how easy it is to miss things like that (it was only present from 6 July). Carcharoth (talk) 11:54, 13 August 2016 (UTC)

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