AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center &
National Endowment for Democracy (NED)
[undermine democracy and labor
Worker To Worker Solidarity Committee,
It troubles us greatly to know that the
AFL-CIO, the largest organization representing US workers, has
been associated with anti-worker and anti-democratic activities
abroad. This has included a history of partnerships with the CIA
and State Department in attacking labor groups, and collaborating
with dictatorships or supporting the overthrow of elected governments.
Two of the best known of these labor-US government interventions
led to the overthrow of the Salvador Allende government in Chile
in 1973, and the unsuccessful Venezuela coup in 2002.
Today, the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center
is one of four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy,
partnering with the International Republican Institute, the National
Democratic Institute, and the Center for International Private
Enterprise (Chambers of Commerce). The Solidarity Center is more
than 90 per cent funded by the federal government. Most of its
funding is from the State Department (via the NED and USAID) and
the Department of Labor.
Whatever genuine solidarity work the Solidarity
Center has done-and it has done some-it does not give it license
to advance corporate interests as an arm of US foreign policy
by sponsoring politically aligned labor organizations against
progressive trade unionists and popular governments.
In Venezuela, the Solidarity Center worked
with and funded what it called the "flagship organizations"
behind illegal, company-initiated lockouts of oil workers and
the failed coup against the democratically elected government
of Hugo Chavez.
In Haiti, the Solidarity Center has only
supported a labor organization that agitated for the ousting of
the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
while failing to act against or condemn the massive persecution
of pro-Lavalas, pro-Aristide, public sector trade unionists since
the 2004 coup. Furthermore, the Solidarity Center's partner in
the NED, in line with the Bush Agenda, is the International Republican
Institute, which funded, prepared and trained the perpetrators
of the coup.
In Iraq, where 50 per cent of NED funding
is now directed, the Solidarity Center plays an active role backing
a US occupation despised by Iraqi workers. It recognizes only
one of several union centers. That federation is the only center
participating in the government empowered by the Bush Administration,
and the only one to state support for the occupation. Choosing
to support one union over others violates the AFL-CIO's own primary
principle recognizing the rights of workers to choose who will
represent them. That principle is called "Freedom of Association.
These activities are carried out in the
name of AFL-CIO rank and file, and are paid for with tax dollars.
Whether we are in the AFL-CIO or not, as workers we feel that
the AFL-CIO, is OUR organization. It is outrageous that the AFL-CIO
accepts funding and backing for its so-called "Solidarity
Center" from the Bush Administration or from any administration
whose agenda sells out the interests of workers for the sake of
corporate interests and political power. We all know that the
Bush Administration does not give one dime to any group that does
not advance its anti-worker agenda at home and abroad.
The AFL-CIO should never use our credibility
as workers to undermine the struggles of workers abroad - to serve
as a government weapon for Corporate America. The struggles of
workers abroad to improve their conditions are part of our own
struggle in the US for a better future. It is totally unacceptable
that Solidarity Center activities are done behind the backs of
US workers, without any honest reporting and with closed books.
It is unaccountable to AFL-CIO unions and certainly to the rank
and file. It does not report finances in the manner demanded,
by law, of every local union.
We are affronted by the anti-democratic
measures that were used by top-level AFL-CIO leaders to prevent
a full and honest floor discussion at the 2005 AFL-CIO National
Convention in Chicago of the "Build Unity and Trust With
Workers Worldwide" resolution. That resolution to account
for and end foreign activities tied to government agencies was
submitted with unanimous approval by the 2004 Convention of the
California State AFL-CIO, representing 2.4 million workers. We
cannot accept this distortion of trade union democracy that enables
top-level AFL-CIO officials to make deals with the Bush Administration
(or any other) to intervene against the will of workers abroad
and the sovereignty of nations.
Therefore, in accord with the unanimous
vote in the California Labor Federation, we join the call for:
1) The Solidarity Center to immediately
terminate its collaboration with the Bush Administration and the
NED, withdraw as one of the four core institutes of the NED, refuse
to re-enter such relationships in the future and stop all collaboration
with the agents of US government foreign policy and corporate
2) The AFL-CI O to open its books about
all projects, past, present, and future, undertaken by the Solidarity
Center and predecessor groups that carried out AFL-CIO foreign
operations. These would include, but not be limited to, operations
that preceded the coup against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973,
the attempted coup against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2002, operations
in Haiti leading up to and following the coup, and current activities
in and/or related to Iraq. We want detailed reports on a country-by-country
basis wherever the Solidarity Center is active-and an immediate
termination of any operations that are not specifically intended
to help workers in that country.
For more information, please contact us
at email@example.com or visit our website at www.WorkerToWorker.net
Worker to Worker Solidarity Committee
PO Box 2815
Tucson, AZ 85702
The AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center is more
than 90% funded by the federal government and only receives a
fraction of its finances from union dues. Along with the International
Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and the
Center for International Private Enterprise, it constitutes one
of the four core institutions of the National Endowment for Democracy
(NED). According to Alan Weinstein, an NED co-founder, "a
lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the
CIA." The Solidarity Center operates with closed books and
no accountability to AFL-CIO rank and file. While it is true the
Solidarity Center does some useful work helping organize workers,
it has also acted, again and again, to undermine democratic movements
around the world, including:
* Funding leaders of CEO-called work stoppages
and lockouts designed to cripple the Venezuelan economy;
* Funding leaders of the failed coup against Venezuela's Pres.
* Attempting to divert Haitian workers from defending their elected
government against the US sponsored coup;
* Supporting the privatization of national resources,including
the loss of jobs, in Eastern European countries;
* Collaborating with the U.S. occupation in Iraq.
In April, 2004, a coalition of labor and solidarity activists
came together to support the Unity and Trust Among Workers Worldwide
resolution. This historic resolution was passed by the California
Labor Federation, and a number of other Labor Federations and
Central Labor Councils. We lobbied for this resolution at the
AFL-CIO convention in July, 2005, but it was defeated under dubious
circumstances. The struggle and the coalition, however, live on.
We are proud that many more rank and file union members have learned
about these important issues. We are proud, but not satisfied:
with the establishment of the Worker to Worker Solidarity Coalition,
our fight is moving forward.
The potential power of working people
is a force so strong that it can determine every facet of our
future. That is why the U.S. / corporate empire spends the bulk
of its time and resources trying to divide us. With their spin
machines, they confuse us. With stolen elections, they defuse
us. With attacks on our unions, they abuse us. With wars and prisons
and poverty wages, they refuse us our dreams of peace, justice,
and the joys of productive, useful, and meaningful work. But when
workers stand united, community to community, and across the globe-no
weapon can cut us down, nothing can stop us.
The WWSC is
REAL - Our only interest is in building
true working class unity. We don't take money from the federal
government nor from the Bush Administration, and we refuse to
collaborate with the co-option of our labor movement.
INTERNATIONALIST -We seek to give and
to receive solidarity with our working sisters and brothers, across,
and even in spite of, national boundaries.
COMMUNITY INTEGRATED -Workers are the
backbone and muscle of any community, and the community is the
home of the workers, their families, and their friends. Worker
solidarity needs, and is a part of, community solidarity.
WORKER TO WORKER -We seek genuine solidarity
that is worker to worker, local to local, and community to community.
A popular phrase in the labor movement
is that "an injury to one is an injury to all". Certainly
this is true. However, we have chosen a motto that is more positive,
and less defensive. When workers unite, they are no longer simply
defending their rights-they are making changes that will help
create a new world. When the hand of solidarity is extended to
one, it is extended to all. In this spirit, we borrow a phrase
from the Australian labor movement: Touch one, touch all!
The Worker to Worker Solidarity Committee
Call to Action
* Direct exchanges and expressions of
labor solidarity on an independent and grass roots level;
* The Solidarity Center to immediately terminate all contact with
the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), to immediately withdraw
as one of the four core institutes of the NED, to refuse to re-enter
into such relationships in the future, and to stop all collaboration
with those who promote empire and corporate globalization.
* The AFL-CIO to open its books about all projects, past, present,
and future, undertaken by the Solidarity Center and its predecessors,
including, but not limited to, its role in the coup against Salvador
Allende in Chile in 1973, and its role in the attempted coup against
Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2002;
* The Change to Win Coalition to publicly adopt a policy refusing
to collaborate with or be funded by the NED in its foreign affairs
(to date, no such relationship exists to our knowledge-so let's
keep it that way!
* International solidarity with our union and working sisters
and brothers whenever and wherever they are under attack.
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org