The AFL-CIO recently hosted a fundraiser by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) which aimed to support labor organizations in Ukraine assisting families suffering through the current crisis. One of the labor organizations is the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) which is a partner of the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center. The current chairman of KVPU is Mykhailo Volynets who is pictured on the left sitting next to his deputy, Ihor Kniazhansky, of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion.
On July 2020, a month after protests over racial injustice and police violence set the AFL-CIO headquarters on fire, America’s largest union coalition formed a “Task Force on Racial Justice” as a signal that it was taking the issues seriously. A subcommittee of that task force was charged with producing a report on the touchy issue of the labor movement’s relationship to police unions. In These Times has obtained a copy of that committee’s draft report, which is currently circulating within the group before being released to the public. As it stands, the report amounts to a definitive rejection of calls for the labor movement to separate itself from police unions, and a clear statement that the AFL-CIO intends to stay closely aligned with its police members.
For as long as Richard Trumka has been a national AFL-CIO leader—more than a quarter of a century—his labor federation has been encouraging its local affiliates to revitalize themselves to help reverse union decline. Now nearing retirement as AFL-CIO president, Trumka was part of a “New Voice” slate that challenged old guard officials for control of the organization in 1995, via its first contested election in a century. New Voice candidates promised to work with state and local AFL-CIO councils to make labor’s political action and workplace solidarity more effective. Among the reforms they implemented was hiring more staff to promote picketing and protests by union members under attack by hostile employers.
Broadly speaking, there have been two very large labor stories this year. The first is, “I have been forced into unemployment due to the pandemic, and I am scared.” And the second is, “I have been forced to continue working during the pandemic, and I am scared.” America’s labor reporters spent most of our year writing variations of these stories, in each company and in each industry and in each city. Those stories continue to this day. The federal government left working people utterly forsaken. They did not create a national wage replacement system to pay people to stay home, as many European nations did. OSHA was asleep on the job, uninterested in workplace safety related to coronavirus.
Like every other social movement in the U.S. this year, the compounding crises of 2020 proved a catalyzing force for the labor movement, compelling essential and frontline workers to join picket lines to ensure basic protections and increased pay as they continue to face disproportionate risks and increasingly perilous working conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But essential workers weren’t the only sector on strike this year: Prisoners and tenants across the country also withheld their labor and rent to fight for their fundamental human right to life and housing. Building momentum after major strike waves in 2018 and 2019, 2020 has cemented the strike’s resurgence as a crucial tactic for workers and organizers not only in the U.S. but around the world.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Solidarity Center has a long history of working hand in glove with the U.S. government in undermining democracy and left labor movements throughout the world. The center emphasizes it has shifted away from these Cold War tactics in recent years. But newly obtained documents show that the Solidarity Center has worked closely with the US to undermine the Venezuelan government in the recent past. Across much of the world, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) acted as an international arm of U.S. foreign policy, both before and during the Cold War. In doing so, the AFL-CIO sought to undermine left-leaning and communist groups, labor unions, and governments — with little concern for democracy and often with no compunction about using or supporting brutal violence — in Italy and France in the 1940s, Guatemala in the 1950s, Brazil in the 1960s, Chile in the 1970s, and many other countries.
Union locals and progressive factions within larger unions have taken up the call. The King County Labor Council expelled the Seattle police union last week, and even SEIU leader Mary Kay Henry, the head of the most powerful union outside of the AFL-CIO, said that disaffiliation “must be considered” if police unions don’t reform. Last Friday, the proposal from the Writers Guild received its first serious and direct discussion at a meeting of the AFL-CIO’s executive council, the elected body that governs the group. Mark Dimondstein, the head of the American Postal Workers Union, raised the issue, saying that the AFL-CIO would eventually have no choice but to deal with the issue head-on. Trumka, who was leading the meeting, pushed back claiming many police officers today are “community-friendly.” He also disagreed with Dimondstein’s characterization of labor’s differences with police as “irreconcilable.”
By John Wojcik and Mark Gruenberg for People's World - ST. LOUIS – The AFL-CIO convention here passed yesterday a political resolution that calls for a break with “lesser of two evil politics” but came up short when it comes to projecting a clear path to how that will be accomplished. “The time has passed when we can passively settle for the lesser of two evils,” reads the main political resolution passed Tuesday by the AFL-CIO convention delegates. Lee Saunders, chair of the AFL-CIO’s political committee and president of AFSCME, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, introduced the resolution. They lead the labor federation’s two largest unions. Convention managers yoked the resolution to another measure it also approved discussing a labor party, though not by name. “For decades the political system has failed working people,” Weingarten said. “Acting on behalf of corporations and the rich and powerful, the political system has been taking away, one after another, the pillars that support working people’s right to good jobs and secure benefits.” The two measures, adopted October 24, followed a late Monday-evening meeting of supporters of reviving the Labor Party idea. It attracted about 50 delegates to an upstairs meeting room at the convention’s lead hotel. Their contention: Both the Democrats and the Republicans are under corporate domination.
By Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams. President-elect Donald Trump, a supposedly populist candidate who rose to power on promises made to frustrated American workers, has now seemingly launched what Politicois describing as an outright "war on unions." Labor leaders and advocates across the nation are rallying in support of United Steelworkers Local 1999 president Chuck Jones, after Trump publicly attacked the Indiana union leader for calling him out for lying about the number of Carrier jobs the incoming president claimed to have saved from being outsourced to Mexico. "An attack on [Jones] is an attack on all working people," Richard Trumka, president of the nation's largest union federation AFL-CIO, declared Thursday. The hashtag #ImWithChuck has drawn a groundswell of support for Jones, including from national labor groups and prominent progressive politicians.
By Mark Hand for DC Media Group - The AFL-CIO is coming under attack from labor groups and their supporters angry about the organization’s support of the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through Native American land in North Dakota. Demonstrators stood outside the AFL-CIO’s headquarters in Washington, DC, on Sept. 19 calling on the union federation to renounce its support for the oil pipeline project.
By Warren Heyman & Andrew Tillett-Saks for Jacobin. Democrats have historically been the grudging partners of the labor movement, the more willing of the two major political parties to make concessions when pressured. Labor has thus often taken a more thoughtful and calculating approach to neoliberal Democrats, recognizing their distinct interests but maneuvering strategically at arm’s length to partner when possible. The AFL-CIO’s decision to wait to endorse Clinton until she defeated Bernie Sanders is an example of this more clear-eyed calculation. By contrast, the breakaway caucus unions represent a new way of dealing with these types of politicians, shifting from strategic alliances to sycophantic servitude. In pledging allegiance to Clinton so immediately and so fervently, the four breakaway unions appear to have lost the ability to identify labor’s own interests and enemies.