Report On AFL-CIO International Affairs Meeting
From: Fred Hirsch email@example.com
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2003
Sisters and Brothers,
Please forgive the lateness of this brief preliminary report on the
dealing with AFL-CIO international affairs which took place recently in
Oakland. We hope to put together a much more detailed report very soon.
That report will hopefully indicate ways to bring the activity of the
AFL-CIO abroad into full transparency with an open and historically
realistic approach toward an effective labor foreign policy that conforms
the needs of workers here and abroad. This meeting was the first of its
kind. I believe it was a step toward forging a policy that genuinely and
credibly reflects the needs of workers, generates the mutual solidarity
badly needed today in this global economy and does so with union
not with the largesse of a government that projects and protects the
avarice of Corporate America.
Your input is needed to compile a truly comprehensive report on this
meeting, put together a working group on AFL-CIO foreign affairs and
proposals for change. To start, would you please send us a copy of the
notes you took at the meeting, your analysis of the meaning of the
and your suggestions as to where we should go from here. Hopefully you
preparing a report to your organization and members. A copy of your
will be an important contribution to a comprehensive report. This is the
first time in decades that a labor movement group has come together to
on these issues. Letıs not let the process weıve begun end here.
For starters - On Tuesday, 10/14/ 03 the California Labor Federation
held a meeting with representatives of the International Affairs
(IAD) and of the International Affairs Committee (IAC) of the AFL-CIO.
fifty people from many unions attended. The meeting was Chaired by Art
Pulaski, CLF Executive Secretary Treasurer. Our two guests from the
AFL-CIO in Washington were Bill Lucy, International Secretary Treasurer
AFSCME, President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) and
Secretary Treasurer of the International Affairs Committee of the
Brother Lucy is also a member of the Executive Council of the Federation.
We had expected to meet with Barbara Shailor, Director of the IAD, but
Gacek, Assistant Director, who joined us from Washington, D.C., explained
that she had been called away for other duties by John Sweeney.
The meeting was called consequent to passage of Resolution #20, ²Looking
Ahead on AFL-CIO Policy Abroad² at the CLF Convention on July 24, 2002.
Resolution # 20 was drawn up by the Executive Council of the CLF as a
substitute for the resolution ³Itıs Time to Clear the Air About AFL-CIO
Policy Abroad.² In negotiating for consensus on Resolution #20, the
backers of the ³Clear the Air ³ resolution were given to understand that,
if the meeting with the AFL-CIO international affairs representatives
to be satisfactory and productive toward the objectives of ³Clear the
the officers of the CLF would come behind the Clear the Air resolution.
That understanding was clearly stated in discussion on the convention
prior to passage of Resolution #20.
The meeting lasted about three hours. In order for our visitors from
Washington to speak freely, the attendees agreed that the meeting would
an internal discussion of the issues. Reports to our members would be
welcome, but it was expected that there would be no direct quotes of
Brothers Lucy and Gacek given to the non-labor media.
We who attended offered a wide range of questions and opinions regarding
IADıs negative past performance. We had several pointed questions about
recent activity in Venezuela and various other countries. Our guests
Washington, while not denying a history which some described as a
of the interests of working people, were reluctant to open the book on
past. They did not give us, as requested, a country by country present
accounting as to finances, policy and personnel. They pointed out
positive programs in which they were involved, particularly in Brazil,
Colombia and South Africa. In general, they were knowledgable, polite
smooth. They stayed right on message that they were following what they
describe as as a ³labor agenda² even though it is financed mainly through
the government - at this point, the Bush administration.
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED,) the State Departmentıs Agency
for International Development (AID) and the Department of Labor (DOL)
discussed as funding sources for the international work of the AFL-CIO.
was clear to many that although those agencies pay the bills, none of
are devoted to labor friendly policies, and the AFL-CIO is not a part of
their decision making process. Many of us find it difficult to believe
the enemies of working families here at home could possibly be the
of workers abroad.
We did not even come close to having the main goals of the ³Clear the
resolution accepted by the emissaries from D.C.:
³BE IT RESOLVED, that, to advance the progressive new policies of the
AFL-CIO in global affairs, we call upon our Federation to fully account
what was done in Chile and other countries where similar roles may have
played in our name, to 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
³BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO describe, country by country,
exactly what activities it may still be engaged in abroad with funds paid
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
As a result of the meeting, the IAC may advise the Executive Council that
there is unrest in the ranks over present policy of burying the the past
continuing to finance AFL-CIO programs abroad with government funds.
IAD, however, has no chice but to follow the dictates of John Sweeney and
the Executive Council. In our discussion, Art Pulaski and others
out that one way to change the policies and behavior of the IAD is to
these issues to the our international unions and get them to demand the
changes we believe are needed.
Ed Asner, former president of the Screen Actorsı Guild, participated in
meeting and surprised our brothers from Washington with some cogent
proposals. According to my notes, he asked that the AFL-CIO
a Truth Commission to examine our history that would be comprised of well
known people and he named about seven. They would hold hearings and
a report to be presented to the whole labor movement within one year from
its establishment. South Africa and Chile established truth commissionıs
deal witsh their history.
2- Establish Immediate Financial and Organizational Transparency, with
received and expended made public and activities engaged in by specific
personnel, reported upon periodically to the whole labor movement.
3- Establish an International Solidarity Mobilization Department. The IAD
should draw up a proposal to be considered at the next Convention of the
AFL-CIO to transform itself into a department which mobilizes the support
workers in the United States for mutual solidarity with workers abroad.
new department should build a funding structure similar to COPE, drawing
finances from within labor and eliminating current funding from
and any foundations tied to Corporate America.
He asked that a progress report on these issues be given by the IAD to
California Labor Federation for consideration at its February, 2004
Our guests from Washington did not seriously discuss Ed Asnerıs
To bring such ideas into serious consideration will take a lot of doing.
first step is coming up with a comprehensive report on this meeting.
Before the meeting came to a close, both Stan Gacek and Bill Lucy
themselves to each send a written assessment and analysis of the meeting
the California Labor Federation. As of this wtriting, those documents
not been received.
One suggestion which seems very much in order, was to organize a working
group that would coordinate with the CLF to deal with these issues.
you be willing to participate in such a group?
Would you please send me your assessment or analysis of the meeting and
suggestions as to what should be done next. Nothing you send will be
without attribution and neither will your name be used without your
Would you please send me your assessment or analysis of the 10/14 meeting
and your suggestions, notes - whatever you think appropriate for follow
As an audience there was not much we could do but thereıs a hell of a lot
be done as a working group. Letıs get it on with some serious work toward
achieving the goals set out in the ³Clear the Air² resolution.
Thank you in advance for responding to this email. Please call if yoiu
any questions - 831/475-4192. If Iım not on hand, leave a message and
Iıll get back to you as soon as possible. Please send your information