The AFL-CIO’s Secret War Against Developing Country Workers – Scipes



The AFL-CIO’s Secret War Against Developing Country Workers


The principles of trade unionism are based on working people acting together in
solidarity with each other to improve wages, working conditions, and life for
themselves and all others. These principles have been advanced in the United States
since the 1880s by the American Federation of Labor (AFL), later the Congress of
Industrial Organizations (CIO), and since their merger in 1955, the AFL-CIO.
However, unknown to most union members and many labor leaders in North
America, and without their knowledge and support, the foreign policy leaders of the
AFL and now the AFL-CIO have been working in collaboration with the U.S. government and its agencies, such as
the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the National Endowment for
Democracy, to carry out an imperialist foreign policy that has worked against workers in a number of “developing
countries” and at home, thus undercutting the very principles of international labor solidarity that they proclaim.
In the post–World War II period, this foreign policy program has led to the AFL-CIO’s foreign policy leadership
helping to overthrow democratically elected governments in Guatemala (1954), Brazil (1964), and Chile (1973),
and to support dictatorships in these countries after their military coups. They have supported labor movements
created by dictatorships in countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Korea. Further, the AFL-CIO
foreign policy leadership supported efforts by reactionary labor leaders to help try to overthrow democratically
elected leaders in Venezuela in 2002. Their foreign policy program has also included providing AFL-CIO
support for U.S. government policies around the world, including support for apartheid in South Africa.
“In focusing from various points of view on the historically concealed government funded role of AFL-CIO
officialdom, carrying the bags for Corporate America abroad in pursuit of Empire, Scipes lets the cats out of the
bags. Getting this book into the hard working hands of the women and men who ARE the unions will contribute
immensely to building international solidarity and the vitality, vision and power of our labor movement itself.”
— Fred Hirsch


Executive Board Member, Plumbers & Fitters Local 393, Delegate to the South Bay AFL-CIO
Labor Council and Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Building Trades Council

Kim Scipes is assistant professor of Sociology at Purdue University North Central.

ISBN 978-0-7391-3501-3
2010 248 pages


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