George Meany (1894-1980) served as the powerful head of the merged AFL-CIO (1955–79). Previously he was the dominant leader of the New York State Federation of Labor, part of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). In 1940 he added the role of national Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL.
Corruption in labor unions became a major political issues in the 1950s. Meany convinced the AFL to expel the racketeer-influenced International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) in 1953, and several other corrupt affiliates, most notably the Teamsters Union, several years later.
An Irish Catholic, he grew up in The Bronx (New York City), became a plumber, and was elected to full-time union office in 1922.