Volume , Number 0
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Ustan b. Reinart
Law & Order
John M. Laforge
Press The Press
Dru Oja jay
Lee Siu hin
Z Papers on Vision
An interview with Betsy Leondar-Wright
Gay & Lesbian Community Notes
Herbert P. Bix
European Union News
Eleanor J. Bader
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Labor’s China Syndrome
A t the upcoming AFL-CIO convention in Chicago in July 2005, thousands of labor activists will stand up to question their president John Sweeney’s failed labor leadership and his policy of accepting money from the notorious National Endowment of Democracy (NED), a supposedly independent private organization, which is fully funded by the U.S. government and known for its ties to the CIA in many covert and overt campaigns against other countries.
While many articles have been published focusing on NED’s connections with U.S. covert operations around the world, few have discussed NED’s ties to U.S. labor or the connections of AFL-CIO’s American Center for International Labor Solidarity (commonly known as Solidarity Center) with NED funding or NED relations with the CIA’s covert operations against Venezuela or with their recent covert and overt campaigns against China.
For many labor rank-and-filers, the connections between organized labor and the U.S. State Department are hard to believe. Behind the scenes the AFL-CIO does have a very close relationship with certain high-ranking members of the U.S. diplomatic and intelligence communities and has directly supported neo-liberal/neo-con policies since World War II, regardless of who has been in the White House.
One such beneficiary of behind the scenes AFL- CIO support is the Advisory Committee on Labor Diplomacy (ADLP), a little-known agency of the State Department. It was created in May 1999, during the Clinton era, and has become very active since the Bush II presidency. The ADLP has proclaimed itself to be an “advisor” for the secretary of state and the president of the United States on the “resources and policies necessary to implement labor diplomacy in a manner that ensures U.S. leadership is promoting the objectives and ideals of U.S. labor policies” (according to its charter).
According to its website, it has several “open to the public” meetings a year. In addition to John Sweeney, its key committee members include some of the most right-wing, neo-con, and anti-communist elements of the U.S. labor movement, including:
- Thomas R. Donahue : vice-chair of the NED, former secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO from 1979 to 1995 and AFL-CIO president in 1995. Donahue is known for his close association with the anti-communist right wing of U.S. organized labor.
- Ray Marshall: Board member of the League for Industrial Democracy (LID), which is comprised mainly of intellectual members of the anti-communist, neo-conservative coalition.
- John Joyce: Board member of the Friends of the Democratic Center in Central America, better known as PRODEMCA, founded in late 1981. According to its promotional literature, the organization was established in order to support “incipient democratic processes” in Central America. Its projects have focused primarily on Nicaragua, especially on the construction of anti-Sandinista media and public relations campaigns, and on support for the political opposition inside Nicaragua. In carrying out these campaigns, PRODEMCA relied on funding from Carl Channell’s National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty (NEPL). NEPL was one of the important conduits for funds from the contra supply network coordinated by Oliver North. Joyce is also the chair of the AFL- CIO’s Military Affairs Committee and is on the USO World Board of Governors.
Former executive vice president of the General Electric Company.
He is also a board member of the United States Council for International
Business (USCIB), a powerful elite business trade group promoting
- Anthony G. Freeman: Washington Office of the International Labor Organization (ILO). Between 1983 to 1992 he served as coordinator for International Labor Affairs at the Agency for International Development and was special assistant to three secretaries of state. ILO was known for their close ties with the CIA in launching covert operations to overthrow foreign governments under the guise of “humanitarian aid” to Central America, Eastern Europe, and Asia.
Secretary-treasurer of AFSCME, an AFL-CIO executive council member,
oversees the International Affairs Department (IAD) for the executive
council. The IAD, along with the Free Trade Union Committee (FTUC),
was historically known for its adherence to a militant anti-communism,
which aligned it with the long-term political objectives of Washington.
Last May, AFL-CIO announced they will close the IAD office in
Big labor’s China bashing campaign is nothing new. Historically, with a few notable exceptions, most union and federation leaders do not base their policies and actions on furthering class solidarity, but instead follow the path of least resistance to achieve dubious short-term goals. Their periodic outbursts of racism and protectionism, such as direly-worded warnings against immigration and the industries abroad that dare to compete with U.S. companies, follow in a direct line from the U.S.’s 19th century anti-China campaigns and the Chinese Exclusion Act, both brought to us courtesy of U.S. big labor.
A new right-wing/labor alliance against China is emerging and this alliance is hijacking the labor and anti-globalization movements in order to attack China. Even today, the AFL-CIO and its president, John Sweeney, maintain a policy of refusing to meet and talk with the All-China Confederation of Trade Unions (ACFTU, which has approximately eight times as many members as does the AFL-CIO) on the grounds that it is a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party.
As many labor activists are aware, the biggest problem of labor’s cold war against China is not labor’s failing effort to protect U.S. jobs, it is that labor has been co-opted into becoming a front for U.S. multinational corporations’ ambitions to control China, with grants from NED to achieve it.
According to the latest information on the NED website, in 2003 it gave $3,413,163 to 26 projects related to China. The Solidarity Center receives only a tiny portion of these funds ($65,160, or 1.91 percent); the majority of the funding for labor’s China campaign comes from different AFL-CIO member organizations. However, the biggest current project in labor’s campaign against China is not an attempt to protect U.S. jobs, it is the formation of a mysterious coalition to protect U.S. currency.
The China Currency Coalition is “an alliance of industry, agriculture, and worker organizations whose mission is to support U.S. manufacturing by seeking an end to Chinese currency manipulation and forcing China to devalue its currency” (according to their website).
Members of the Coalition come from organized labor, business, and trade groups, and neo-con/neo-liberal think-tanks. Forcing China to raise the value of the Yuan and thus make it more costly to buy Chinese products, in order to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China, will obviously not have the desired effect of forcing manufacturers to relocate manufacturing jobs back to “cheaper” U.S. factories. Such a strategy is completely unrealistic, but the few voices in the western media who recognize this seem unable to prevent leaders of big unions from joining with big business to lobby Congress.
Who will be the beneficiary if China is made to revaluate its currency? Certainly not U.S. and Chinese working people. Many economists point out that the biggest winner in such a scenario would be Wall Street currency speculators who have been sending billions of dollars in “hot money” to Hong Kong and China, waiting to profit handsomely from the possible revaluation. During the 1997 Asian financial crisis it is estimated that currency speculators like George Soros and others pocketed millions, even billions, of dollars from the Asia currency devaluations at the expense of Asian people’s life savings.
All this is not to say that the Solidarity Center doesn’t do some good work, but with its acceptance of NED money and the AFL-CIO’s right-wing policies, it’s not helping the working class across the world advance labor rights or fight for a better life for workers. Rather, Solidarity Center’s activities, covert and overt, serve the opposite goal: to prolong the oppression of working people and to promote the interests of multinational corporations and U.S. government.
Lee Siu Hin is an activist living in California.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.