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CHICAGO:  Kim Scipes, 773/227-8974, kimscipes@earthlink.net
SANTA CRUZ:  Fred Hirsch, 831/475-4192
TUCSON:  James Jordan, 520/991-4109
WASHINGTON, DC:  Chuck Kaufman, 202/544-9355

Demonstration: Chicago's Navy Pier, 4 PM, Sunday, July 24, 2005

Called by: Latin American Solidarity Committee (www.lasolidarity.org)
Organizing Group to Say No to the NED (National Endowment for Democracy)

THE LATIN AMERICAN Solidarity Coalition and its Chicago partner, Organizing Group to Say No to the NED, have called a demonstration at Navy Pier to support efforts within the AFL-CIO Convention to pass the "Build Unity and Trust With Workers Worldwide" Resolution.

"Build Unity and Trust" was passed by the California State AFL-CIO in July 2004, rebuking Labor's national-level foreign policy leaders for their foreign policy program, and their failure to reveal its entire historical and current scope as requested by the California State AFL-CIO. The resolution calls upon the labor federation to build true solidarity from the ranks and not just pass through the resources of the Bush Administration in the name of the AFL-CIO. This resolution has been forwarded to the national AFL-CIO for consideration at its National Convention. (The text of the Resolution can be found on-line at Fred Hirsch, "Build Unity and Trust With Workers Worldwide," on-line at www.labournet.net/world/0407/hirsch.html . Hirsch is a Vice President of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 393 in San Jose, CA.)

The AFL-CIO will be holding its national Convention in Chicago at Navy Pier over July 25-28, 2005.

Much of the public discussion of Labor's affairs--particularly by the media--has focused on the possible pull-out of four leading unions from the AFL-CIO, splitting the organization. Led by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Andrew Stern, four unions (the Teamsters, food workers, hotel/restaurant-garment workers, and SEIU) have threatened to withdraw from the AFL-CIO, and the four have joined with the Carpenters Union, which had previously left the AFL-CIO, to create what they call the "Change to Win Coalition. This "debate" over the future of the labor movement--as projected by both the Change to Win Coalition and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney--such as it has been, has been at the very top levels of the federation, with little or no involvement by most union members.

Yet other issues are bubbling upward from the ranks--most particularly, challenging current AFL-CIO foreign policy. (For a recent discussion of this foreign policy, see Kim Scipes, "Labor Imperialism Redux? The AFL-CIO's Foreign Policy Since 1995, Monthly Review, May 2005, and on-line with references at www.monthlyreview.org/0505scipes.htm .)

At or around the AFL-CIO Convention, there will be a Labor for Palestine Conference, a National Rank and File Conference to Take Back Our Unions (with a panel on AFL-CIO foreign policy), our demonstration to support the "Build Unity and Trust With Workers Worldwide "Resolution, and US Labor Against War has submitted a resolution demanding an IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL of US military forces from Iraq.


The Build Unity and Trust With Workers Worldwide resolution is seen as one step in transforming the AFL-CIO foreign policy program into a force to genuine international labor solidarity. It is expected that top-level foreign policy leaders will try to undercut this effort, and the demonstration has been called to support those working to pass the resolution inside the AFL-CIO.

The AFL-CIO's "Solidarity Center" (formally known as the American Center for International Labor Solidarity or ACILS) is one of four "core" institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). In addition, the Solidarity Center gets over 90% of is annual budget from the NED.

The activities of the Solidarity Center actions have NEVER been fully reported to union members, including many at top levels, and there has been NO transparency, NO accountability, and NO honesty about activities that have been carried out in the name of American workers but without our knowledge (i.e., behind our backs).

The NED--despite its name and its claim to be "independent" and "non-governmental"--is actually a non democratic project of the United States Government, that was initiated and is almost totally funded by the US Congress. In 2003, its budget was approximately $31 million, and President Bush wants to double that amount in the 2005-06 budget. The NED has been active in opposing grass-roots popular democracy (one person, one vote; all affected get a say in the decision-making processes) around the world, projecting a top-down, elite model of democracy against grassroots efforts. The NED has been involved in supporting efforts to overthrow the democratically elected President, Hugo Chavez, in Venezuela, among other activities around the world. (For more information, see Kim Scipes, "An Unholy Alliance: The AFL-CIO and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Venezuela, July 10, 2005, Z Net--on-line at www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?sectionID-19=8268 .)

The Organizing Group to Say NO to the NED is comprised of a number of Chicago-area organizations, and solidarity and labor activists. It was started as a project of the Latin American Solidarity Coalition. (For more information, see their web site at www.lasolidarity.org .)

The Organizing Group launched a new web site on July 16: www.endthened.org . Additional information and downloadable material can be found there.

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