Chicago Indymedia :
Chicago Indymedia

LOCAL News :: International Relations : Labor

Head of AFL-CIO International Affairs Department Refuses to be on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" Program with Labor Activists Kim Scipes and Fred Hirsch

AFL-CIO International Affairs Department head Barbara Shailor refuses to participate in live TV/audio show on AFL-CIO Foreign Policy that goes out to over 350 radio and TV stations nationwide
Barbara Shailor, Head of the AFL-CIO's International Affairs Department, refused to participate in a live TV/radio interview for the show "Democracy Now," this morning, July 26, 2005. Democracy Now, hosted by Amy Goodman, was going to focus some time on AFL-CIO foreign policy. The interview was to be fed live from a studio in Chicago, not far from the convention or hotel site. Shailor specifically told the producers of Democracy Now that she would not appear on any program with me, Kim Scipes, a long-time critic of the AFL-CIO's foreign policy. Shailor stated this position--that she wouldn't appear on any program with me--to at least one other journalist. Stan Gacek, Shailor's assistant, refused to appear with me on a union radio show in New York City late last year.

This actually is much more than refusing to talk with Fred Hirsch and myself: it exemplies the arrogance and disdain for democracy, both external and internal to the labor movement, that is especially held by the AFL-CIO's top-level foreign policy "leaders." Shailor nor anyone else among these elites will report honestly and accurately about what they have done in the past, nor what they are currently doing as they operate in over 40 countries around the world--and they have refused to report honestly and accurately even when requested by their organizational affiliates.

But what particularly have I done to earn her disdain? My research has revealed a number of truths that AFL-CIO leaders are unwilling to admit, including involvement in the developments leading to the attempted coup against democratically-elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in April 2002. For one example, I discovered that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) had provided $703,927 between 1997-2002 to the AFL-CIO's "Solidarity Center" to work with the right wing CTV labor federation in Venezuela, but the Solidarity Center reports only $20,000 expended there. Despite requests for clarification, the AFL-CIO has refused to do so. The US State Department's Office of Inspector General has documented over $154,000 given to the Solidarity Center by the NED in the year 2001 alone.

Using documents unearthed by the Venezuelan Solidarity Committee under Freedom of Information Act requests--specifically quarterly reports from the Solidarity Center to the NED covering the period between January-March 2002--I reported that Solidarity Center staffers were involved in a series of meetings that were used to bring together the right wing trade union confederation, CTV in Spanish, and the business coalition known as FEDECAMARAS. (This was a pattern seen in the coup that took place in Chile, on September 11, 1973, in which the AFL-CIO had laid the groundwork by helping to disrupt the economy.) The last meeting, only 36 days before the April 11, 2002 coup attempt, reported that the "National Accord" that came out of these meetings, "established the CTV and FEDECAMARAS as the flagship organizations leading the growing opposition to the Chavez government." The CTV and FEDECAMARAS led the civilian side of the coup attempt--along with military officers--but once Chavez had been kidnapped and removed from the presidential palace, Pedro Carmona of FEDECAMARAS betrayed his labor allies, and kept them out of the post-coup government. Only after being excluded from power did the CTV oppose the coup. In fact, CTV Secretary General Carlos Ortega, in fact, called for the dissolution of the National Assembly on April 12, BEFORE Carmona dissolved the Assembly and the Supreme Court.


The AFL-CIO foreign policy leaders have long-refused to "clear the air" on their historical and current activities around the world. They have not only refused demands by activists, but they have refused to "clear the air" as requested not once but twice (2002, 2004) by the California State AFL-CIO.

Additionally, the AFL-CIO leadership has been doing everything they can to undercut a resolution passed UNANIMOUSLY by the California AFL-CIO State Convention in July 2004 that was before the AFL-CIO Resolutions Committee for the national AFL-CIO convention currently taking place in Chicago at Navy Pier. The California resolution, "Build Unity and Trust Among Workers Worldwiide," is the product of a number of unions and Central Labor Councils from across the state to transform the AFL-CIO foreign policy program into a force for genuine international labor solidarity. These resolutions have all passed local bodies after debate and discussion with their rank and file members.

The AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center created a resolution in late Spring to undercut "Build Unity and Trust." This appears to have been circulated only at the Executive Board level of various state federations and the American Federation of Teachers, a union leadership long-known to have been involved in the worst aspects of AFL-CIO foreign policy, although it is not specifically known what they have been doing recently.

At the Convention Resolutions Committee, the Resolutions Committee not only rejected "Build Unity and Trust," but apparently rejected the later resolution from the Solidarity Center. The Executive Council of the AFL-CIO--and in all probability although not specifically known, probably only a small number of Executive Council numbers--substituted still another resolution.

International-focused resolutions have apparently been moved in the schedule from Wednesday, as initially stated, to Thursday, the last day of the convention. Some Delegates might have to leave Chicago before these resolutions get to the floor of the convention. US Labor Against War's resolution is also facing the same problem.


Despite opposition from the AFL-CIO's foreign policy leaders, Fred Hirsch and I went on Amy Goodman's radio/TV show "Democracy Now" this morning, talking about AFL-CIO foreign policy: we were on for almost 11 minutes! Democracy Now is on over 350 stations around the US, with about half being on radio and half on TV. This show can be listened to or even watched via computer. (If you have problems with the link, you can go to the DN website at, and at the bottom of the page for July 26, 2005, you will find the story.)

I have been doing numerous radio interviews around the country on AFL-CIO foreign policy over the past two months. I have been on the air in Kansas City, Troy (NY), Medocino County (CA), San Franscisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago (on Labor Express, Live at the Heartland, and WZRD talk show).

And for those in the Chicago area that want to hear more, I will be on Cliff Kelly's radio show, live on WVON, AM 1450, tomorrow (Wed, July 27) at 6:15 AM (ugh!) for about 20-25 minutes.

In short, activists are pushing the issue about AFL-CIO foreign policy as far and as wide as we can. One thing is certain: even if bureaucratic control over the convention allows the top level foreign affairs leadership to sidetrack our efforts this time, they can no longer control the public debate: the genie is now out of the bottle!

For the Democracy Now interview, which can be watched as well as listened to, go to .


If you want to read more about this issue, here are a few key articles that you can download off the net:

Fred Hirsch.

--- 2004. "Build Unity and Trust Among Workers World Wide" (includes Resolution No. 6 from the 2004 California State AFL-CIO Convention, which was sent to--and buried by--the AFL-CIO leadership). .

--- June 12, 2005. "AFL-CIO Foreign Policy in Venezuela." .

Harry Kelber. June 29, 2005. "90% of Solidarity Center's Budget Comes from Payoffs by US Government." .

Lee Siu Hin. June 2005. "Labor's China Syndrome: AFL-CIO, Solidarity Center, NED and the Neo-cons--The Unholy Alliance." .

Lee Sustar. July 21, 2005. "AFL-CIO's Role in Venezuela: Assessment and Debate."

Kim Scipes.

--- April 2004. "AFL-CIO in Venezuela: Deja Vu All Over Again." .

--- May 2005. "Labor Imperialism Redux? The AFL-CIO's Foreign Policy Since 1995." .

--- July 10, 2005. "An Unholy Alliance: The AFL-CIO and the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela." .

--- June 23, 2005. "Are AFL-CIO Foreign Policy Leaders Engaging in Dirty Tricks?" .

--- July 19, 2005. "Freeing Labor from the Empire: Breaking the NED-Solidarity Center Link." .

There are also articles and postings--including pictures from our July 24, 2005 demo at Navy Pier/Ogden Park in Chicago--on Chicago Indy Media's web site at .

You are also encourage to check out the "End the NED" website at .

For those really wanting to delve into this subject, please see the section on AFL-CIO foreign policy in my on-line "Current Labor Bibliography" at .



Account Login

Media Centers


This site made manifest by dadaIMC software