It’s Time to Clear the Air about the AFL-CIO

WHEREAS the impact of economic globalization on American working families and workers everywhere is causing more job dislocation, impoverishment of working families, division among workers and a huge economic gap between rich and poor in the U.S. and among nations, with power shifting more and more into corporate hands; and

WHEREAS an effective strategy to serve our members’ interests and counter the corporate economic globalization agenda is build solidarity and unity among unions and workers’ organizations worldwide based upon mutual respect and our common needs, with mutually determined labor standards based on social justice and human rights as they are perceived by workers in each nation; and

WHEREAS while we recognize and applaud the many changes in the international policy and practice of the AFL-CIO in recent years and, as we are taking steps to increase credibility among workers and members in the US, we must also overcome fear and suspicion of workers abroad based upon errors and excesses of the Cold War years- so that the AFL-CIO may become a more trusted and vital actor on the stage of working class international affairs; and

WHEREAS recent articles in Labor Studies Journal for Summer 2000 show that the AFL-CIO played a role leading to the bloody Pinochet overthrow of the democratically elected government in Chile, that its work was linked to corporate and CIA intervention ordered by Richard Nixon and led by Henry Kissinger (clearly against the best interests of the labor movement in Latin America and the United States,) that the AFL-CIO engaged in similar activities in many countries on almost every continent and that such activities served corporate interests and were largely funded by the US government; and

WHEREAS the bitter fruit of the experience in Chile and other countries was a strengthened hand for Corporate America, the destruction of militant unions and support of spurious unions, the persecution of working families and the torture, disappearance, and death of many trade union activists and leaders, situations which defy rebuilding trust without taking responsibility for such events where it may be due, and accounting for and renouncing such policies;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that, to advance the progressive new policies of the AFL-CIO in global affairs, we call upon our Federation to fully account for what was done in Chile and other countries where similar roles may have been played in our name, to forever renounce such policies and practices and to openly invite concerned union members and researchers to review and discuss all AFL-CIO archives on international labor affairs;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the AFL-CIO describe, country by country, exactly what activities it may still be engaged in abroad with funds paid by government agencies and renounce any such ties that could compromise our authentic credibility and the trust of workers here and abroad and that would make us paid agents of government or of the forces of corporate economic globalization;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the above actions be taken to clear the air in affirmation of an AFL-CIO policy of genuine global labor solidarity in pursuit of economic and social justice with attention to domestic and international labor standards that include the right to organize and strike, an adequate social safety net, living wages, the right to health care and education, elimination of mandatory overtime, protection of the rights of immigrant workers, prohibitions on strikebreaking and the pursuit of peace among nations and peoples;

AND BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that we send this resolution to the AFL-CIO and circulate it to Labor Councils, constituency groups, and local unions in our area and elsewhere asking them to take similar action.

Submitted by Out Front Labor/Pride at Work, Seattle, Washington Chapter