Lessons of the Matamoros workers’ rebellion: Part four


New trade union bureaucracies or rank-and-file workers’ power?

Lessons of the Matamoros workers’ rebellion: Part four

Andrea Lobo

11 April 2019

The AFL-CIO and “democratic” unions in Latin America

The record shows Prieto and the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) have been working closely together to channel growing discontent among workers on the border behind Mexican unions partnered, financed and in some instances created by the AFL-CIO. These efforts are being intensified in response to the resurgent class struggle, which is rapidly turning into a rebellion against the Mexican CTM labor federation, and to the coming to power of a government aligned with the faction of the bureaucracy favored by the AFL-CIO.

Workers confront Villafuerte outside of the SJOIIM’s headquarters (credit: AquiMatamoros, January 17)

It is not only a question of creating a new façade for the trade-unions, but of integrating the Mexican state and its political institutions more directly into the operations of US imperialism and, to a lesser degree, German imperialism.

While the initial impulse for the formation of the mass industrial unions in the US was provided by socialists and left-wing militants in the 1930s and 1940s, the merger of the CIO with the right wing AFL in 1955 was based on an explicitly anti-communist alliance with the US ruling elite to crack down on the support for socialism among workers during the Cold War. AFL leaders like George Meany, Irving Brown and Jay Lovestone collaborated with the war-time Office of Strategic Service (OSS) and its successor, the Central Intelligence Agency, in innumerable operations to subvert labor movements and counter the influence of socialists in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America…

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