SAT Subject US History Practice Question 666: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 666

17. Which of the following best describes the differences that existed between the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in the 1930s?

A. The AFL had a huge membership, while the CIO never developed a mass following.
B. The AFL had its strength east of the Mississippi River, while the CIO was strongest west of the Mississippi.
C. The AFL was more cautious in its approach to conflicts with management, while the CIO was willing to use more militant tactics, such as the sit-down strike.
D. The AFL was actually a coalition of "company unions," organized by management to placate worker resentment, while the CIO was composed of actual worker organizations.
E. The AFL was dominated by Communist Party members, while the CIO, fearing government reprisals, excluded Communists from leadership positions.

Correct Answer: C


The two umbrella groups for labor unions had radically different approaches to union organizing. The AFL was the older, more conservative union, focusing mainly on skilled workers. The CIO was more brash and militant. It organized assembly line workers and skilled workers into the same unions. Both had large memberships in the 1930s (A). There was no significant East Coast/West Coast division (B) between the two unions. A "company union" (D) is an organization established by management, supposedly to deal with worker grievances; both the AFL and CIO were made up of legitimate unions, organized by workers. The AFL was not dominated by Communist Party members (E). The Communist Party played a greater role in the CIO in the 1930s than it did in the AFL.

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