Let me start by saying I am not against ALL unions. There are plenty of blue-collar unions, with people willing to get their hands dirty to build this country, that I recognize as part of working-class America and as important coalitions against things like tariffs on steel. I worked with labor coalitions on a campaign where anti-job initiatives were put to voters. I have a personal fascination with many labor history moments and sometimes their links to organized crime, like any ordinary American mafia-enthused moviegoer would.
I’ve had more than one Democrat, union organizing friend admit that California’s AB 5 law was “stupid,” making concessions that there is overlap between party lines. Before fully understanding this, I was once nearly removed from a large group of inflicted independent contractors who self-organized against the law that limited or blocked their right to work independently. I almost got the boot because I was hyper-partisan at a time majorly blue California wasn’t ready to hear that this was done with full intent, a party-line vote that accepted no amendments. Luckily, once they realized my efforts on the issue, things were smoothed over and we continued to collaborate in opposition to the law.
I say all of this to preface the fact that I am about to remind you of the socialist ties we see in today’s labor movement, from the very largest union in America. I know someone whose father worked their whole life as a steelworker, or firefighter, or any commendable career will wholly reject any criticism for hard work done while supporting a family with no malignant aims. It’s not every union or every worker. At times I work with labor against shutting down industry when they arise and even for my beloved AB 5 opponents fighting for their economic freedoms, I’ve made them feel alienated at times by coming out too strongly with partisan conclusions before they concluded themselves who was in their corner. It’s not always black and white.
As the daughter of a Cuban immigrant, for the purposes of this piece, I do not take much effort to contrast socialism with communism, as under Marxist ideas they are simply phases with the same end goal, anyway. None of that changes the fact that this Labor Day, I’m blowing the whistle on socialism seeding the labor movement.
Well, it started that way. The Encylopedia notes the original American Federation of Labor (AFL) preamble was influenced by Marxism:
When it began in the 1880s, the AFL had proclaimed in the Marxist-influenced preamble of its constitution: “A struggle is going on in the nations of the civilized world between the oppressors and the oppressed of all countries, a struggle between capital and labor, which must grow in intensity from year to year and work disastrous results to the toiling millions of all nations if not combined for mutual protection and benefit.”
Then, in the 1930s, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) broke away from the AFL, while keeping much of the working-class radicalism. A historically notable strife within the CIO ranks arose when union leadership supported the Nazi-Soviet Pact (also known as the Hitler-Stalin Pact) in 1939, which was in lockstep with the Communist Party of the United States position. This pact paved the way for a joint invasion of Poland, which, of course, was the first major event of WW2.
As described in Earl Browder: The American Failure of Communism by James Gilbert Ryan:
The Communist Party turned the focus of its public activities from anti-fascism to advocating peace, not only opposing military preparations, but also condemning those opposed to Hitler. The party attacked British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French leader Édouard Daladier, but it did not at first attack President Roosevelt, reasoning that this could devastate American Communism, blaming instead Roosevelt’s advisors.
The agreement wouldn’t be worth the paper it was written on as Nazi troops would invade the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa, just two years after the non-aggression pact. Ideological lines within the unions followed alliances with the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front.
It would be disingenuous to point out union leadership’s pro-communist and even fascist support ahead of WW2, without applauding their roles in military-industrial efforts that certainly helped win the war. WW2 brought about an industrial revolution in America, and winning the war must be partially credited to American factory workers, including women in the workforce, producing defense equipment while much of Europe’s factories ended in ruins.
By mid-1941, the AFL had essentially a closed-shop agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Department and the US Government for all structure construction of defense-related building. This also came with a promise not to strike during the war, as to keep production running smoothly. Mostly without support from union leaders from the AFL or CIO, there were strikes and work stoppages due to the industrial working conditions that were often dangerous or even deadly. The AFL launched a campaign to encourage the purchase of war bonds by 1942. The CIO promoted the anti-discrimination legislation Fair Employment Practices Committee to protect workers in the defense sector. Certainly, they helped immensely in war efforts and the industrial revolution it provided to American manufacturing.
The brewing Cold War was the context for massive anti-communist reformations within the CIO, in 1949-1950 eleven unions were expelled for support of the Communist Party, representing about one million workers. This purge paved the way for the 1955 merger, which was actually a reunification with the AFL.
While my brief explanation brushes over immense histories and complexities of union political alignments with the backdrop of global conflicts, what it shows is that ideologies with Marxist roots have always been relevant to today’s dominant labor union in America, the AFL-CIO, and they still are today.
In 2017, labor councils welcomed elected Cuban Labor official Victor Manuel Lemagne Sanchez during a US tour. He was even allowed to speak on the floor of California’s Assembly and Senate, which has never happened previously with any Cuban Communist Party official. Workers.org reported:
Lemagne’s warm reception from U.S. workers and the organized labor movement is in sharp contrast to the bellicosity displayed by the Trump administration.
In the first two days, Lemagne met with leaders of the San Francisco Labor Council, San Jose/South Bay Central Labor Council and University of California/Berkeley Labor Center. He was received on the floor of the California Senate and Assembly in Sacramento, the first Cuban elected official to be invited there.
Lemagne spoke at an Organize Sacramento reception. UNITE HERE, which organizes hotel, restaurant and casino workers in the U.S., hosted receptions throughout northern California and will do so in Los Angeles and San Diego.
The Sacramento Valley Union Labor Bulletin wrote:
The visit came as the relationship between Calfornia’s labor movement and Cuba’s continues to grow. For the past two years, delegations of union members from the Sacramento region have traveled to Cuba for the annual May Day celebration in Havana, an international gathering to honor workers, where they have participated as honored guests in the million person march that marks the occasion.
These socialist ideologies were on full display in 2019 when the AFL-CIO published back-to-back tweets calling to “seize the means of production” and illustrating that the cost of a guillotine was cheaper than union dues. While that is shocking and wildly inappropriate, I assure you the tweets were authentic.
— Philip Melanchthon Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) May 14, 2019
While I noted the union-backed California legislation reclassifying independent contractors earlier, the ProAct is a Biden-era initiative that included similar criteria for worker classification for union organizing purposes on the national scale. The largest supporters of the bill were both the AFL-CIO and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
— Kim Kavin (@thekimkavin) April 26, 2021
DSA proclaimed the PRO Act to be their “highest national priority,” which should say a lot about the massive power grab on the free market economy the bill proposed. DSA launched its largest phone banking campaign ever and announced a coalition partnership with AFL-CIO. DSA claimed to make over half a million phone calls a week, and activists even bragged about “bullying” Senators into supporting their position.
If you’re scratching your head wondering why Manchin flipped on the PRO Act, it’s because thousands of us bullied him. DSA specifically has organized phone banks where we call his constituents and connect them to his voicemail. It works.
— Tara Rose (@RareOats) April 19, 2021
DSA was among union coalitions that demonstrated outside Arizona Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly in support of the PRO Act. These kinds of coalitions are commonplace between labor unions and DSA. But, the overlap doesn’t end at the AFL-CIO outwardly tweeting Marxist ideologies or working on common goals in legislation. DSA has developed an entire network and strategy toward inserting themselves in certain workplaces or careers including K-12 education. Here is their handbook called, “Putting the Rank and File Strategy to Work”.
This isn’t the only nor most important publication to show the seeding and cooperation of the Socialist Party and organized labor. The blueprint was published by TIME Magazine in a bombshell article after the 2020 presidential election titled, The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election. Even if you have read the article before, I suggest you re-read it with fresh eyes.
The main character in the article is Mike Podhorzer, referred to as “The Architect.” He was the right-hand man and advisor to the president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, who has since passed away. The report goes in-depth about the ways Podhorzer shaped or electioneered the results of the 2020 election, but I think the most overlooked part is that it tells us that they had the radical mobs ready to respond and take to the streets at the signal of a text message. Labor’s largest union had leftist street mobs on speed-dial.
The summer uprising had shown that people power could have a massive impact. Activists began preparing to reprise the demonstrations if Trump tried to steal the election. “Americans plan widespread protests if Trump interferes with election,” Reuters reported in October, one of many such stories. More than 150 liberal groups, from the Women’s March to the Sierra Club to Color of Change, fromto the Democratic Socialists of America, joined the “Protect the Results” coalition. The group’s now defunct website had a map listing 400 planned postelection demonstrations, to be activated via text message as soon as Nov. 4. To stop the coup they feared, the left was ready to flood the streets.
The coalition decided against mobilizing the mobs of left-wing protestors that burnt cities and participated in violence and looting in the summer of 2020 protests as the election results poured in.
So the word went out: stand down. Protect the Results announced that it would “not be activating the entire national mobilization network today, but remains ready to activate if necessary.” On Twitter, outraged progressives wondered what was going on. Why wasn’t anyone trying to stop Trump’s coup? Where were all the protests?
Podhorzer credits the activists for their restraint. “They had spent so much time getting ready to hit the streets on Wednesday. But they did it,” he says. “Wednesday through Friday, there was not a single Antifa vs. Proud Boys incident like everyone was expecting. And when that didn’t materialize, I don’t think the Trump campaign had a backup plan.”
Podhorzer is incorrect when he said not a single Antifa vs. Proud Boys incident took place amid the 2020 election. On election night, November 3, 2020, in our Nation’s Capitol of Washington DC, a black-bloc dressed activist attacked three right-wing figures with a knife, including then Proud Boy’s Chairman, Enrique Tarrio. I will warn the video is very disturbing because it is the attempted murders of multiple people that left activist Bevelyn Beatty stabbed multiple times in her back collapsing a lung, and another man is slashed across his throat and is left to wander around for assistance while the assailants slip into the night, never to face justice for their crimes. Now, Tarrio faces some of the highest charges of seditious conspiracy levied against January 6 defendants, although he was never at the Capitol on that date.
Members of Proud Boys have been injured in a knife attack in Washington, D.C.
One of the victims is Enrique Tarrio, chairman of the group.
Activist Bevelyn Beatty was also stabbed.
— Esther Willemsen (@2tongig) November 4, 2020
While we sit by and watch the pro-union virtue signaling this Labor Day from Democrats in office, on the heels of being told that it’s the right-wing “MAGA Republicans” who present a threat to democracy, we should remember the orchestrators of the left-wing mob rule that intimidated and destroyed communities planned to do the same if Joe Biden was not elected in 2020 and are still working in tandem. Regardless of the denials that unsolicited violence did not happen election night as their activists were waiting for a text signal, it in fact did happen in what should be considered attempted murder (I can’t think of any other reason to slash someone’s throat if not an attempt to end their life) that was captured on video. The left-wing threats to American democracy and community safety exist today, and they aren’t done working with and within organized labor. As the Democrats aim to overhaul organizing rights with bills like AB 5 and the PRO Act, while using regulatory powers to re-write the rules at the Department of Labor we should instead be looking for another rebuke of Marxism within the ranks of Big Labor and eye a Taft-Hartley 2.0 in the near future.