AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center & National Endowment for Democracy (NED)

[undermine democracy and labor rights internationally]

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 globalization;

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 or visit our website at

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. Hugo Chavez;
* 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.


Our Commitment

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

Labor page

NED page

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