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December 8: AFL Is Launched

Lawrence Bush
December 8, 2009
Gompers-1887On this day in 1886, the American Federation of Labor was created by 26 craft unions with Samuel Gompers (a Dutch-born Jew) as president. During his 37-year tenure, procedures for collective bargaining and labor-management contracts were established and trade unionism became an established feature of the American capitalist system. Gompers was a labor conservative who worked to pass anti-immigration legislation, which ultimately would help doom the Jews of Europe years after his death in 1924. “What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge . . . more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.” —Samuel Gompers

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.