/** headlines: 102.0 **/
** Topic: AFL-CIO: Labor's CIA? **
** Written 8:48 AM Jan 10, 1997 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 7:41 AM Jan 8, 1997 by email@example.com in alt.politics.org.cia */
/* ---------- "AFL-CIO: Labor's CIA?" ---------- */
The Labour Movement: Penetration Point for U.S. Intelligence and
(Spokesman Books, 1977)
by Fred Hirsch
A basic factor in the formation or deformation of society in Latin America is the trade union movement. At best the trade union reaches into every area of the life of the working family, organizing collective expressions towards social solutions. At worst, the trade union is adapted by outside forces, to neutralise the potential for collective expressions, or to twist it so completely that the actions of workers serve those very same transnational forces intent on squeezing superprofit and power out of the lifeblood of the Latin American working classes. This latter function has been served most efficiently by what the conservative US magazine, Business Week, calls "labour's own version of the Central Intelligence Agency", the international apparatus of the AFL-CIO.
Following in coordinated step with the global reach of the transnational corporations, the AFL-CIO has spearheaded external control of labor in Latin America with the American Institute for Free Labour Development, AIFLD. Organised as a training institute, AIFLD has swept away any need for the AFL-CIO to rely on fraternal unions or international confederations in pursuing its goals. Witness the AFL-CIO withdrawal from the ICFTU (international Confederation of Free Trade Unions) and the ILO (International Labour Organization). AIFLD, in conjunction with the regional offices of six international Trade Secretariats (ITSs), has established a network of subagents in the ranks and leadership of unions throughout the continent which takes suggestions, order, and often pay from US Labour Functionaries in Washington DC and Langley, Virginia.
The importance of this network in stabilising and pacifying workers' organisations in countries where the transnational corporate operations are flourishing has never been adequately dealt with. The strategic value of this network, as a fifth column, waiting with cobra fangs to strike out, to poison, and where possible, to destroy popular attempts to terminate transnational corporate domination has never been realistically weighed. The massive nature of the training programmes which successfully inculcate US-government political and social values has a dramatic importance even before one considers the plots and counterplots which make up the daily life of the US labour network in Latin America.
While tremendous attention has been paid to the development of the economic, political and military assault of US imperial forces against the people of Chile, not nearly enough study has been given to the key role of labour in forming and deforming the destiny of that nation as an example and warning to Latin America and to the world. Luis Figueroa, President of the CUT, Chile's Central Unica de Trabajadores, chose his words carefully when he accused AIFLD of "thirteen years of massive social espionage".
Putting trade union subversion in its place, we must recognize that the destiny of nations can be determined by the organised working class. The now public record of CIA in such work as murder, the use of exotic drugs, subornation, torture, counterfeiting, forgery, ad infinauseum, is shocking, but insights into these crimes tend to divert us from the underlying activity among the workers, without which the CIA snake would lose the venom from its fangs. Realisation of the strategic importance of CIA type labour activity should also lead us towards actions that will put a stop to CIA aggressions against the culture and sovereignty of nations through their control of functionaries and credentials from the trade union movements. This basic area of covert subversion and so called intelligence work is one of the most effective and pervasive, yet fragile areas of CIA work
The far reaching effect of AIFLD programmes can be judged by examining the raw numbers of "trainees" they have processed. A basic programme for US influence in the military establishments of other nations is the Military Assistance Programme, MAP. The number of military people trained under the MAP programme was reported at 320,000 since 1950, with more than fifty percent of these being officers, mostly from the emerging nations. In contrast, AIFLD, concentrating on trade union officers, had trained 243,668 from Latin America and the Caribbean area. Of those, over 1600 have received special training and pay at installations in the US. The figure for Chile alone shows that well over 9,000 trainees had passed through their programmes by 1972; 79 of them received specialised treatment inside the US. Add to these figures an estimate of 1000 seminars by 1964 conducted by officials of ORIT, the Latin American arm of ICFTU, organised by the same people who put together AIFLD which was not operative until 1962, combine these figures with AIFLD counterparts in Asia and Africa and we have an amazing quantity of penetration, beyond any programme by the military or any other branch of US government control.
With the revolutionary developments in Cuba, the AFL-CIO, the US Government and the biggest transnational corporations saw the need for an efficiently operating mechanism among Latin American unions. They created the AIFLD by 1962. A US Comptroller General's report says "In May 1961 the AFL-CIO approached private foundations, business men, and government agencies to seek financing for the planned Institute". One of the foundations it applied to was the Michigan Fund, identified by Congressional sources as a conduit for CIA money. AIFLD found welcome open pockets in the business group. George Meany, President of the AFL-CIO and also of AIFLD, boasted support from the "largest corporations in the United States . . . Rockefeller, ITT, Kennecott, Standard Oil, Shell Petroleum . . . Anaconda, even Readers Digest. . . and although some of these companies have no connection whatsoever to US trade unions, they are all agreed that it was really in the US interest to help develop free trade unions in Latin America, and that's why they contributed so much money".
J. Peter Grace, Chairman of the Board of AIFLD and also Chairman of the Board of the W.R. Grace Corporation, one of the ninety five transnational companies that back the Institute, applies the doctrine in tactical terms. Grace says AIFLD urges "cooperation between labour and management and an end to class struggle" and "teaches workers to increase their company's business". He says the goal of AIFLD is to "prevent communist infiltration, and where it exists . . . get rid of it".
And thus to an outline of their practice: AIFLD played an important role in the destruction of the Cheddi Jagan government in Guyana. They worked with massive funds, up to $800,000 in a country with less than a million people, funnelled through the Public Service International and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. At least eleven graduates of AIFLD's Front Royal, Virginia Centre were maintained on a payroll to organise the riots and company union opposition to the leftist head of government.
In the Dominican Republic, where AIFLD worked to unseat the government of Juan Bosch and tried to organise labour support backing the 1965 US invasion, they have continued to play a role towards stabilising the repressive status quo. One AIFLD plan in the Dominican Republic gives some insight into AIFLD "training". It called for "a stepped up propaganda and education campaign in addition to motorised brigades (vigilantes) . . . a specially trained mobile group of 'educator organisers' . . . used to confront and battle . . . the extreme left." In a specific reply to this charge, Director Doherty's Washington office says "AIFLD is glad to take credit for giving fraternal and material support".
A basic problem is that the facts of AIFLD and its ITSs activities have so flagrantly violated the aspirations of working people, that they are difficult to believe. The implications of the matter are completely incredible. Can it be that the top leaders of a labour movement that has its combative roots in the Chicago Haymarket of May 1, 1886, in the battles and massacres of the miners, in the storm of brilliant hard organising on the railroads, in steel, auto and in the packinghouses; can it be that those bureaucrats on top are completely within the control of the world's biggest corporations and the intelligence apparatus of the government which represents those corporations? Yes it can be, Yes it is. And yes, this time the AFL-CIO hands that pay out the dollars to buy labour's allegiance to the transnational corporate vipers stink with the bribes of the bosses and are covered with the blood of bleeding Chile.