[Marxism] Open Letter and Appeal to the AFL-CIO

Doug Smiley dougsmiley at sbcglobal.net
Sat May 14 14:19:15 MDT 2005

Re: The future of organized labor in the United States

14 May 2005

Labor unions have lost the meaning of class struggle.
In fact, their role has been transformed into that of
de facto “labor relations” branches of corporate
America. In a global economy, the AFL-CIO has become
impotent. Where was the voice of the AFL-CIO in
denouncing the Bush war on Iraq? Many individual local
unions passed anti-war resolutions but where was the
AFL-CIO? It is no wonder that provincial attitudes
prevail in individual local union strikes and it has
become clear that the working class is a divided
working class.

Workers have achieved much greater gains in the past
40 years all over the world with organizations like
strike committees and workers’ councils. These are
directly controlled by the workers themselves who
choose delegates from among themselves to represent
them. The delegates are not professionals and their
positions are revocable at all times. The negotiations
with the bosses are open and the voting among the
workers is done by raising hands not by ballots.
Strike committees and workers’ councils have always
functioned outside union control. They have a natural
tendency to spread beyond the immediately affected
workers and to encourage solidarity among other
workers. Historically, as in the 1917-1923 period
during the Bolshevik's October Revoution, and in the
late 60's during the anti-Vietnam war movement, they
have been able to spread almost effortlessly across
national borders.

The labor movement and the AFL-CIO need to put class
struggle at the forefront of their agenda once again
where it all started. The labor movement needs to once
again play a major role in class struggle and worker
solidarity. The decline of the labor movement
worldwide is directly linked to the complacency of the
AFL-CIO and other international union organizations
who have become agents, pawns and lieutenants of Big

In July, the AFL-CIO will hold its convention in
Chicago. In July, the war in Iraq will still be goin
on and American soldiers will still be dying. Some of
these soldiers will be from union households. I urge
the renegade union leaders to not split from the
AFL-CIO but rather to stay united in the class
struggle against oppressive corporations and
unecessary wars. A divided labor movement will only
strengthen the leverage of the corporations. It was
the worker councils and factory floor rank and file
who overthrew the Russian Czars during the October
Revolution and not a beaurocratic labor union.

A revolution awaits... Which side will the AFL-CIO
take? The workers or corporate America?

In Struggle,

Doug Smiley

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