AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?

AFL-CIO's secret war against developing country workers : solidarity or sabotage?

AFL-CIO’s Secret War Against Developing Country Workers : Solidarity or Sabotage?  (2010)

Dr. Kim Scipes’ previous book (published in hardback-September 2010; published in paperback-August 2011)

Published by Lexington Books, Lanham, MD

To order and get 20% off: Solidarity or Sabotage?

Paperback version published in August 2011–ISBN: 978-9-7391-3502-0.

From Back of Book:

The principles of trade unionism are based on working people acting together in solidarity with each other, to improve wages, working conditions, and life for themselves and all others. In its most developed forms, this extends not only to the worker next to you, but to working people all around the world, wherever they might be. Some of the foremost proponents of these principles in the United States since the 1880s has been the American Federation of Labor (AFL), then later the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), and since their merger in 1955, the AFL-CIO.

However, unknown to many labor leaders and most union members in the U.S., the foreign policy leaders of the AFL and then the AFL-CIO, have been carrying out an international foreign policy that has worked against workers in a number of “developing countries.” This has been done on their own, and in collaboration with the U.S. Government and its agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee for Labor and Diplomacy.

In the post-World War II period, this foreign policy program has led to the AFL-CIO’s foreign policy leadership helping to overthrow democratically elected governments—Guatemala (1954), Brazil (1964), Chile (1973); to support dictatorships in countries such as Guatemala, Brazil and Chile (after their respective military coups), as well as in countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Korea; and to support efforts by reactionary labor leaders to help overthrow their democratically-elected leaders as in Venezuela in 2002. It has also included providing AFL-CIO support for U.S. Government policies around the world, including support for apartheid in South Africa.

This book argues that these activities—done behind the backs and without the informed knowledge of American trade unionists—acts to sabotage the very principles of trade unionism that these leaders proclaim to be advancing. It shows how labor activists have been fighting this sabotage, and calls for all Americans to support these efforts.

About the Author

Kim Scipes is associate professor of sociology at Purdue University Northwest in Westville, Indiana.

“A welcome, overdue, and highly informed exposé of U.S. labor imperialism and its nefarious effects both in the…developing world and in the eye of the imperial hurricane—the American homeland. Scipes’ knowledge of the secondary academic and journalistic literature on American labor’s foreign policy record is encyclopedic.”—Paul Street, ZNet

“It belongs in every library in the country.”—Nick Egnatz, Online Journal

“This is an important new book for students of American labor’s international activities and policies. Combining his own research with a vast knowledge of the secondary literature in this important but too often overlooked field, Kim Scipes has produced a unique historical and sociological synthesis. It is also a passionate brief for the need for change, transparency and democracy in American labor’s foreign policy. Those who are interested in developing a truly progressive American labor movement will need to consult these pages, and wrestle with our interventionist labor history, before arriving at their own conclusions.”—David Nack, School for Workers, University of Wisconsin-Extension

“The AFL-CIO’s Secret War” answers its own title question: Solidarity or Sabotage? Kim Scipes draws together more evidence of the latter than can be found between any other two book covers. This volume is clearly written out of love for the union movement and our international working class. In focusing from various points of view on the historically concealed government funded role of AFL-CIO officialdom, carrying the bags for Corporate America abroad in pursuit of Empire, Scipes lets the cats out of the bags. This scholarly work will piss off key players in labor’s hierarchy who, not wanting to wash our dirty laundry in public, have let the dirty laundry accumulate so its stink undermines honesty, transparency and solidarity. Getting this book into the hard working hands of the women and men who ARE the unions will contribute immensely to building international solidarity and the vitality, vision and power of our labor movement itself.”—Fred Hirsch, Executive Board Member, Plumbers & Fitters Local 393, Delegate to the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council and Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Building Trades Council (California)

See Fred Hirsch’s “Why You Should Read AFL-CIO’S Secret War Against Developing Country Workers” .


For an on-line interview of Kim Scipes,

See Michael Barker, “AFL-CIO: Solidarity or Sabotage: An Interview with Kim Scipes” Swans Commentary, September 12, 2011:

For video presentation by Kim Scipes on book and issues related to subject of this book:

2010 (September 18). 10 min. Part One (of 9), Open University of the Left, 9-10-10.

For interviews of Kim Scipes on book and related issues:

2012. (March 5). “Kim Scipes on AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?” 57 min. Video interview by Steve Zeltzer of Labor Video Project of San Francisco.

Published Reviews of Scipes’ book (by alphabetical order of reviewer’s last name):