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Kirkland clinches AFL-CIO job

The AFL-CIO's top leaders will remain at the helm of the 15 million-member federation for the next two years. They were reelected without opposition Nov. 18 by centennial convention delegates still buzzing after a political address by a union favorite, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts, Monitor labor correspondent Ed Townsend reports.

Lane Kirkland, who strengthened his position as federation president in a witty but powerful address earlier this week, was elected by acclamation for exercising ''a steady hand on the wheel'' over the past two difficult years. Secretary-treasurer Thomas R. Donohue was also unanimously reelected.

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When Mr. Kirkland succeeded the late George Meany two years ago, he was expected to face possible political troubles this year as a number of ambitious union presidents maneuvered for the AFL-CIO's top job. But Kirkland has guided the federation into broader political activities and more involvement in organizing. He has reasserted the AFL-CIO's role in international affairs and moved to increase the participation of affiliates in federation affairs. Kirkland also increased his support by naming the first woman to an AFL-CIO vice-presidency.