There was a time when Communism was anathema to the U.S. labor movement. However, that ship has long since sailed. In fact, the tide shifted significantly in 1995 when John Sweeney, Richard Trumka and Linda Chavez-Thompson ousted Lane Kirkland and took over the AFL-CIO.
Following their ascension to the leadership of America’s only (until 2005) federation of unions, the AFL-CIO dropped its ban of Communist Party members in 1997. Since that time, Marxism has regained a strong foothold in the American labor movement that really hadn’t been seen since the 1930s. And, as every year passes, the Marxist (and Communist) influence on the labor movement becomes more and more evident.
Real Marxists emphasize the tremendous importance of the union movement, even if some so-called ‘radicals’ seek to discredit it. The CPUSA requires its members to join the union in their workplace, if there is one. Interested activists who cannot join a union can still become part of the union movement through the AFL-CIO’s Working America. No communist ever scabs. In the most recent great union upsurge in America (1935-1947) Communists played an outstanding role.
While many rank and file union members would not view themselves as Socialists, Communists, or even Marxists, the fact is, many of the unions’ leaders throughout the country have wholly embraced Marxist ideology and have taken unions, as a whole, in that direction.
As a result of this insurgency, it shouldn’t really be surprising when videos of two Marxist labor studies teachers at the tax-payer funded University of Missouri surfaced this week wherein the educators “educated” their classes on tactics in industrial sabotage (including stalking CEOs, using members to insinuate sabotage, as well as the killing of cats), and convincing union members that their “group goals” are more important than their individual goals.
What is revealing, however, is the almost predictable reaction of the Left.
According to a Labor Notes post, one of the ‘educators,’ self-described Communist and Business Manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Don Giljum has resigned—although he was due to retire on (of all days) May Day.
Reactions in the labor movement were mixed. Herb Johnson, Missouri AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, said he was “incensed that we have scoundrels who go out and character-assassinate good people in our community.”
He called Giljum “a great trade unionist” but said the federation was not yet planning to issue a statement supporting the two, preferring not to “fan the flames” and “just cause more reaction.”
Instead, Johnson said, the executive board passed a resolution Wednesday “that we never have and never would endorse any kind of violence for any reason whatsoever.”
The attorney for the Missouri AFL-CIO, Ron Gladney, called Giljum’s international union and asked officials there to pressure him to resign from his local and international positions, which they did.
Giljum resigned, despite the fact that he had announced back in January he would be retiring May 1—just days away.
According to Giljum, Gladney argued that the incident might cause Missouri Republicans to take up a right-to-work bill, which they have till now avoided.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis told Giljum he will not be rehired next semester.
So, on the one hand, an official of the Missouri AFL-CIO is “incensed” that a “great trade unionist” (not to mention Communist) had his character “assassinated” (though by his own words). However, rather than standing by their fellow soldier in solidarity(!), the Missouri AFL-CIO pushed him out days before his retirement not because his actions were wrong in their minds, but because they feared his exposure would lead Republicans to push for Right-to-Work legislation. In other words, political expediency trumped solidarity(!).
Unlike the Missouri AFL-CIO which, fearing a push to end forced dues in Missouri, forced Giljum out, the national AFL-CIO is, according to Labor Notes, is defending the two Marxists:
The national AFL-CIO has jumped in to help defend the two teachers, and the American Association of University Professors issued a statement. The United Association for Labor Education, which includes educators both at universities and in unions, planned a strong defense, with a Facebook page, press release, and letter to the university. UALE is urging members to work with their connections in labor and in education to critique the dishonest video, defend labor education, and build alliances with Breitbart’s other targets.
For her part, Giljum’s co-educator, Judi Ancel, director of the Institute for Labor Studies at the University of Missouri‐Kansas City, released a rebuke to the videos. In it, Ancel claims that the videos were taken out of context and are an attack on her character. In her rebuke, Ancel states:
I am speaking out of my strong lifelong commitment toeducating working people to better understand the world they live in. Labor education is a vital part of anyone’seducation. All Americans, especially our youth, need to understand the contributions working people have made and make in building our communities and nation. Labor education gives them the skills and vision to make abetter world.
At no time did my co‐instructor, Don Giljum, nor I advocate violence.
No, she did not “advocate” violence, but she did almost gleefully boast about a union friend in Peru who electrocuted cats in order to cause power outages during a strike. No, that’s not advocating violence. Nor, was Giljum advocating violence when he spoke about occupying power stations (that’s just the seizing of private property) or union members ‘coincidentally’ bumping into CEOs at church and grocery stores. No, they weren’t advocating violence. However, based on the video, it doesn’t appear they were condemning it either.
But you can watch it for yourself and decide…
The funny thing is, at no point has Ancel, Giljum, the AFL-CIO (in Missouri or at the national level) condemned Giljum’s Communist ties, or Ancel’s Marxism. In fact, that just seems like it’s a given.
Editor’s note: No cats were fried in the writing of this post.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776