Source: Bill Fletcher Jr., WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society, Volume 16, Issue 4, December 2013
From the introduction:
One of the most underutilized vehicles in organized labor is the institution known as the “central labor council.” These bodies, originally constituted in the nineteenth century, bring together the local representatives of labor unions (known as “local unions”) within a defined geographic space, normally a city or county. Such organizations engage in political and legislative action; solidarity efforts with other unions (including strike support and occasionally support for organizing); and, in some cases, emergency relief efforts (in response to natural disasters as well as economic catastrophes).
The role of central labor councils evolved from their origin when they were frequently active in new organizing, in addition to their other roles. By the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, as components of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), their parameters were largely restricted to the areas noted above, in part due to the fact that the national affiliates to the AFL (and much later, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations [AFL-CIO]) did not want the central labor councils involved in new worker organizing….