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Comments 12

How the CIA Infiltrates Trade Unions


by Olav Boye translated from the Norwegian by Terje Maloy

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The CIA is the infamous, criminal intelligence agency which is the mastermind behind a long series of attacks on legal, elected political leaders and massive interventions to create chaos in countries are in the United States’ bad books. By creating conflicts with help of paid agents and assassinating political leaders, they have fomented violent regime changes in numerous countries, Now it has the reputation of being a violent organization which is in the service of the US political leadership. The list of its criminal activities is long, but no one is punished for these crimes.

The CIA is heavily involved in the area of organized labour. Their aim is to sabotage trade unions and to hinder their the battle against negative globalization and abuses from multinational corporations and global financial institutions. The main labour union in the United States, the AFL-CIO, is the backer of American Institute for Free Labor Development – AIFLD, an organization which has supported right wing unions and political organizations, especially in Latin-America. Amongst other things, the AFL-CIO cooperated with the CIA and AIFLD to subvert and overthrow Salvador Allende, the democratically elected president in Chile, and his leftwing government.

AFL-CIO is the backer of international ‘Solidarity Centres’ that exists in 60 countries around the world. My experience with this from Macedonia was an aggressive interpreter who misinterpreted and constantly interrupted my lecture to an assembly from the Cultural Workers Union. My lecture was an orientation on the market liberalism in the European Union and globalization, where my opinion was that this greatly harmed the trade union movement’s struggle for political and professional rights. The interpreter was employed by the Solidarity Centre in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, after her education in Florida. She claimed that people like me were communists and were destroying the labour movement. These claims were debated in the assembly, but the audience demanded a new interpreter. Solidarity Centres buy trust in the labour unions with amongst other things free computers and money grants. Here we can see the infiltration from the AFL-CIO – or the AFL-CIA, as some people like to call them.

During Ronald Reagan’s presidency the AFL-CIO was given substantial economic support from NED, the National Endowment for Democracy, one of CIA’s front organizations. In the Third World, they were better known for undermining activist trade unions than for their support of the labour movement’s professional and political struggle.

One example is the support to Lech Walesa’s Solidarity-movement in Poland. Human rights organizations both inside and outside of the US have accused the NED of «interference in other countries’ internal matters». There have also been accusations that entire organizations were created to legally continue the CIA’s support to political actors in countries where the agency was banned from operating, and that it therefore is the «heir» to CIAs covert work.

One fact frequently mentioned is that because the foundation is private, it is possible for it to operate freely where governmental agencies are bound by US laws. According to the Columbian journalist and writer Hernanado Calvo Ospina, this view was confirmed to a large extent by the foundation’s first director, Allen Weinstein, in an interview with Washington Post in 1991, where he stated that “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

Through my work with the international labour movement, I have on several occasion been approached by people who directly or indirectly tried to recruit me to their negative activities. By this I mean CIA-agents amongst labour leaders in ITUC based in Brussels, and Germans from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), which we know was, and possibly still is, financed by the CIA.

We can also look at the Ola Teigen-affair in the late 1960s, when money from the CIA went to The International Union of Socialist Youth, the international organization the biggest political youth organization in Norway, The Workers’ Youth League, belongs to. Of course the money went via the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. It is commonly known that the George Soros’ Open Society Foundation is in the same business, to great harm for all communist and socialist trade unions.

After the so called Carnation Revolution in Portugal in the mid 1970s, when leftwing officers seized power from the fascist government, I was hired by the Worker’s Educational Association AOF to run seminars in cooperation with Portuguese trade unions. I lived in Portugal for several months, arranging seminars and meetings, and afterwards we jointly selected people for further education at the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions’ own school in Sørmarka. During a seminar in Porto, I noticed that two guys were sitting in the back of the room. They were not participants, and during the break I asked them who they were. They represented the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), and had the same mission as I, to train trade unionist cadres.

When I arrived in Lisbon a few days later, I was contacted by a representative from the Norwegian embassy, who informed me that I had been taken off the mission and was going home. Later I got to know why. During the meeting in Porto, a construction worker had asked me if they should organize a broad trade union movement for all political groups, similar to the Nordic countries, or if they should have an ideological split like in Spain, where socialists, communists and Catholics each had their own trade union. My answer was that a broad union movement is preferable. The guys from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation did not like to hear this, since they were in Portugal to fight communists and radical socialist. It has long been well known that FES was financed by the CIA and that their mission was to make sure the labour movements in Germany and other places in Europe did not get radicalized or would become obstacles to the imperialist policies of the EU and the United States.

After the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I, as secretary for the Nordic Graphical Union, was sent to Sarajevo to strengthen the Graphical Trade Union in this war-torn country. The Friedrich Ebert Foundation was of course also active here, to steer the political direction of the Bosnian trade unions. Here it was not a matter of cooperation, but of diktat from FES and the global trade union ITUC. They had an admitted CIA-agent, Rudy Porter, in their headquarters in Brussels, supposedly representing American trade unions. The representative of FES in Sarajevo, who was under Porter, was highly critical of my negative attitude to globalization and the EU’s market liberalism, which I freely discussed with my Bosnian colleagues. He claimed I was dead wrong and wanted me to join his team, to stop communists and socialist from getting any power in the labour movement in the former Yugoslavia. On commission from the graphical unions in the Nordic countries, I continued our positive work to rebuild the Graphical Union Organization in Bosnia.

In December 1999, I received a phone call from the leader of LO, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, who asked me if I wanted to accept a mission in Montenegro. It was on behalf of the general secretary of the ITUC, Bill Jordan, an splendid British trade unionist whom I knew previously from my work as secretary general of the Graphical International Union IGF. He wanted me to do some work in cooperation with the trade union in Montenegro. I asked for some time to consider the offer and called an American friend of mine in the ITUC. He went out to a phone booth on the street to call me back and tell me that I would be working under the CIA and the same Rudy Porter who I had met in Sarajevo. He was now responsible for the ITUC’s entire work in the Balkans and still got his payslip from the CIA, according to my colleague. I told the Norwegian trade union leader about this connection, and declined the offer to work with the trade union in Montenegro under such conditions.

CIA and the organizations which collaborate with it organize political criminal operations in a number of countries, including Norway. The trade union movement is an important target for the CIA and their political masters.

Their target is that trade unions won’t fight against multinational corporations, global financial institutions, powerful lobby groups and other opponents of trade unions. There can be no doubt that the CIA works systematically to subvert trade unions and political parties on the left, as more people than me can document. They have to a large degree succeeded – globally, in Europe, as well as in Norway.

Olav Boye is former secretary general of the International Graphical Federation. Translated by Terje Maloy.The article is Creative Commons for non-commercial purposes.


12 Comments

  1. Porkemon says

    This article makes me think of Srdja Popovic. He is a CIA-backed “revolutionary” from the former Yugoslavia who has helped with regime change operations all over the world. Three years ago, the Guardian wrote a long-winded puff piece on him, but, somewhat unusually, allowed it to be completely debunked and discredited in the reader comment section.

    Here it is, if you’re curious. I don’t really recommend reading it, but the reader comments at the end are fun: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/08/srdja-popovic-revolution-serbian-activist-protest

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  2. bevin says

    I believe that this is the centenary of the birth of the great Guyanese popular leader Cheddi Jagan, one of the first victims of the CIA’s trade union corrupting coups.
    In some senses this post is one of the most important there have been on this site: the corruption and castration of the Trade Unions and allied socialist parties in Europe has been one of the most profound of the distortions imposed on the world by Intelligence agencies.
    All over Europe-and far beyond it- social democratic movements are in ruins, breathing their last breaths. The Unions are in no better condition-so infested with careerism and expense account padding that most of its leaders are idiots unconscious of their treachery (see Tony Greenstein today for pictures).
    And almost all of this is traceable to the deliberate policies pursued by the Intelligence agencies headed by the, massively funded, CIA.
    The subject is enormous: just about all our culture’s intellectual history since 1945 is intimately related to the Cold War and the accommodations that the intelligentsia were forced (or felt forced) to make with an evolving imperialism. The left, for example, has been divided between those on the CIA payroll, in more or less direct ways, and a post trotskyist licensed form of marxism that, in its most extreme form, becomes neo-conservatism and more often holds imperialism to be ‘progressive’ and thus necessary.
    Someone should write a dozen or so volumes on the history. I think I know where they could get funding!

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  3. I can’t speak to whether or not the Friedrich Ebert Institute receives CIA money, but it is an organization of the German Social Democratic Party, which of course has moved well to the Right over the years, helping depress the wages of German workers on behalf of Germany industrialists when last in power and well known for its maniacal hatred of anybody and any organization to its Left. Remember that the SPD used far right elements in the German Army to kill off Spartacists and Communists after World War I (including Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht) and haven’t substantially changed their tune since.

    The American Institute for Free Labor Development, a project of the AFL-CIO but funded by the CIA, did plenty of dirty work in Chile during the Allende era, working to undermine the main trade union federation, in which three-quarters of the leadership was affiliated with Popular Unity parties following a free vote of the entire membership. The institute’s representative in Santiago said his goal was to “eventually control the trade union movement here.” They didn’t, but of course the result was much worse as thanks to the work of the CIA and its allies like the AFL-CIO leadership, unions were banned and working people were killed in massive numbers by the Pinochet dictatorship.

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  4. Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:

    The CIA is heavily involved in the area of organized labour. Their aim is to sabotage trade unions and to hinder their the battle against negative globalization and abuses from multinational corporations and global financial institutions.

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  5. George Cornell says

    The trade unionists have historically had good company, like the homosexuals, the Jews, the disabled….

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  6. rtj1211 says

    The reason this still goes on is because no-one in the CIA gets punished. They might change if they were castrated or their children were murdered….if they were tortured with electricity to extract names and if it were made clear that no body to bury would ever be provided, so CIA members died with extreme prejudice, extreme lack of dignity and absolutely without a final resting place….

    Perhaps a campaign all over US campuses making it clear what a foul and disgusting organisation the CIA was and is, making it clear what an inhuman traitor anyone now joining the organisation eould be is in order??

    Naming CIA agents by the hundred and encouraging absolute ostracism for their behaviour?? Banning them from churches or any other moral organisation??

    Until it is not worth living as a CIA slave, slaves will continue to work for them….

    And even when it is not, new organisations will spring up again…..

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  7. Cyndy says

    The CIA and US Politicians support police unions 100% and Americans are too damn stupid to understand the danger in this.

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  8. banjo says

    Interesting read.

    I recall recently somebody speculating/pointing out the TUC in Britain was somehow connected to the CIA. I then proceeded to witness time and again Frances O’Grady being a very prominent attack dog against Mr Corbyn and his policies on the MSM circuit.

    To add to the suspicion just recently, while the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid and Greens held a summit to agree an anti Brexit alliance type deal there was much fuss about Corbyn and co not willing to attend. He called it a stunt. It turned into yet another stick to beat him with. Round 2 of said summit has recently been announced guess what; Frances O’Grady and the TUC has stated they will be there to take up his place. Par the course.

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  9. Yonatan says

    The CIA is corporate America’s enforcer arm. It will try to subvert any and all opposition to the Glorious American Reich – or New American Century – a term manufactured by those the call terrorists ‘carefully vetted moderates’

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