In 1995 when the supposedly "new" AFL-CIO was born, the old Cold War International Affairs apparatus of the AFL-CIO — built by rabid anti-Communists such as Jay Lovestone, Irving Brown, Bill Doherty and overseen for decades by George Meany and Lane Kirkland, went into the dustbin of history. Or, so many thought.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. Though a few staff people with erstwhile progressive reputations were put in prominent positions in the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), down below the old cadre of State Department and quasi-State Department operatives still ran the show. Within a few years US labor activists discovered that the AFL-CIO was up to its old tricks of funneling money, for example, into an anti-Hugo Chavez trade union center in Venezuela, and many other shabby counterrevolutionary activities. Illustrating how much work needs to be done in the US unions, recently, in keeping with the outlook of only the far right of the US ruling class, a group of US trade union leaders called for the release of Cuban trade unionists who could become the basis of a Solidarnosc-type movement to destabilize socialism in blockaded Cuba. jost progressive trade unionists around the world are calling for ending the blockade. With nary a word about the US torture camps in Guantanamo, Cuba, this crowd wants to make the blockade succeed.

— MLToday


WASHINGTON (PAI) — Twenty-one union presidents and three other officials, marshaled by former AFL-CIO President Thomas Donahue, urged Cuban President Fidel Castro to release eight labor activists arrested three years ago for attempting to form free trade unions.

In a petition June 5 to the Cuban Interests Section of the Swiss Embassy in Washington, the leaders also said the Cuban government should obey International Labour Organization conventions it has signed covering the right to organize freely and bargain collectively.

The eight Cuban activists were among journalists, human rights advocates and pro-democracy campaigners who were sentenced to up to 26 years in jail each. Some others have been released, but the seven of the eight unionists have been in cells "filled with vermin and lice," the U.S. union leaders’ petition to Castro says. The eighth is on leave from prison due to failing health.

Besides Donahue, signers included: USW President Leo Gerard, RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum, APWU President Bill Burrus, ATU President Warren George, IBEW President Ed Hill, Teamsters President James Hoffa, Machinists President Tom Buffenbarger, BCTGM President Frank Hurt, Transport Workers President James Little, AFT President Ed McElroy, Roofers President Kinsey Robinson, Seafarers President Mike Sacco and SMWIA President Michael Sullivan.

Press Associates, Inc. (PAI) — 6/12/2006

This is sort of funny. American union leaders who somehow throughout their careers managed to avoid standing up for the rights of American workers (that they supposedly represent) try to distract their memberships (yet again) and do the bidding of their masters (yet again) by making accusations against Cuba, and we’re to believe that this is somehow significant news!
These same union leaders who somehow manage to ignore the 2,100,000 Americans in prison are to now be perceived as the spokespersons for justice?

It should also be noted that the leader of this pack, "former" AFL-CIO President Thomas Donahue only briefly served as the president of the AFL-CIO, taking office on the death of his predecessor and then immediately being voted out in an election. He was also a functionary in the Johnson regime which waged war against the peoples of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 1960s, killing 3,000,000 Asians in the process.
In addition, Donahue played a key role in the establishment of the National Endowment for Democracy and has served on its board for several terms. This is essentially the legal arm of the CIA which was set up to do the dirty work of the CIA without the legal restrictions. The dirty work that the CIA did was exposed in the Church committee hearings following the forced resignation of Richard Nixon. (Also, the NED folks were the organizers and financial backers of the attempted coup against Chavez.)
"A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA" — Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, in 1991 [See NED’s sources of funding].

It should also be remembered that the CIA tried to kill Castro on numerous occasions and planned and organized the invasion of Cuba in 1961.

Bob, LASolidarity
June 9, 2006