AN OPEN LETTER TO THE AFL-CIO<p> - Regarding the 'Solidarity Center' - American Center for Internatinal Labor Solidarity (ACILS)</p> sign now

OPEN LETTER TO THE AFL-CIO

From The Worker to Worker Solidarity Committee

As workers, we know that the only way for us to protect our interests in this age of corporate globalization is to stand together in solidarity, across national boundaries. The international unity and trust of working families and communities is our best tool to advance our cause and our interests.

It troubles us greatly to know that the AFL-CIO, the largest organization representing US workers, has been associated with anti-worker activities abroad. This has included partnerships with the CIA in attacking labor groups and collaborating with dictatorships or supporting the overthrow of democratically elected labor governments in many countries. Perhaps the best known of these laborUS government interventions led to the overthrow of the Salvador Allende government in Chile in 1973, and the unsuccessful Venezuela coup in 2002.

Today, the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center is one of four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy, collaborating with The International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and the Center for International Private Enterprise (Chambers of Commerce). The Solidarity Center is more than 90\% funded by the federal government. Most of its funding is from the State Department via the National endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Labor.

The Solidarity Center has done some genuine solidarity work, such as in Colombia where it works with unions confronting outrageous paramilitary death squads. But such work does not give it license for the numerous occasions in which it has collaborated with global corporate interests and acted as an arm of US foreign policy.

In Venezuela, the Solidarity Center worked with and funded what it called the flagship organizations behind the illegal, company-called lockouts of oil workers, and the failed coup against the elected government of Hugo Chбvez.

In Haiti, the Solidarity Center has only supported trade unionists that agitated for the ousting of the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, while failing to investigate and condemn the massive persecution of pro-Lavalas and public sector trade unionists. Furthermore, the Solidarity Center's partner in the NED, the International Republican Institute, funded and prepared the perpetrators of the coup.

In Iraq, where 50\% of NED funding is directed, the Solidarity Center plays an active role supporting the occupation mandate that recognizes only one official union, but does not recognize alternative unions. That union happens to be the only one to participate in the government put into power by the Bush Administration, and the only one to make statements in support of the occupation. Choosing to support one union over others is a violation of the AFL-CIO's own primary principle recognizing the rights of workers to choose who will represent them. That principle is called Freedom of Association.

These activities are carried out in the name of the AFL-CIO rank and file, and are paid for with our U.S tax dollars. Whether we are in the AFL-CIO or not, as workers we workers feel that the AFL-CIO, is OUR organization. It is outrageous that any authentic labor organization should have a so-called Solidarity Center funded and backed by the Bush Administration, which does not give one dime to anyone who does not advance its anti-worker agenda at home, and abroad or from any administration whose agenda includes genocide and world domination. The AFL-CIO should never use our credibility as workers to undermine the struggles of workers abroad to serve as a weapon of the government and Corporate America. The struggles of workers abroad to improve their conditions are part of our own struggle in the U.S. for a better future. And it is totally unacceptable that Solidarity Center activities are carried out with closed books, unaccountable to its constituent unions and to the union rank and file. It does not even report finances in the manner demanded of every local union.
Therefore, we the undersigned, demand that:

1) The Solidarity Center immediately terminate its collaboration with the Bush Administration and the NED, withdraw as one of the four core institutes of the NED, refuse to re-enter into such relationships in the future, and stop all collaboration with U.S imperial domination abroad and corporate globalization;

2) The AFL-CI 0 open its books about all projects, past, present, and future, undertaken by the Solidarity Center and predecessor groups that fronted for the AFL-CIO abroad, including, but not limited to, their roles in the coup against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, the attempted coup against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2002, their activities in Haiti leading up to and following the coup, and current activities in and in or related to Iraq.

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Debbie BradfordBy:
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