March 1, 2011

Stern to WaPo: Labor Movement ‘Had Socialist and Communist Tendencies’; Change the Tense, Andy

Retired Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern was recently interviewed by Journolist organizer and Washington Post staff writer Ezra “the Constitution is confusing because it was written more than a hundred years ago” Klein.

In response to a question from Klein about “the animosity between unions and workplaces” (that is what Klein says he said), Stern made an interesting assertion that most readers probably took at face value:

We grew up in that culture. In the ’30s, people didn’t want us to exist. We had to do sit-down strikes . . . we had socialist and communist tendencies. We grew up, to speak in Marxist terms, in a world with a lot more class struggle. It’s not viewed through that light anymore.

Really? “Permit” me to disagree.

Stern’s statement about the U.S. labor movement’s relative lack of socialist and communist tendencies was arguably true until the mid-1990s. It was then that Lane Kirkland, famous for orchestrating aid for Poland’s Solidarity movement in the 1980s, stepped down as head of the AFL-CIO, after which the organization, according to an Arch Puddington column at Freedom House, deliberately disengaged from international involvement with worker organization efforts in totalitarian countries.

Since then, the leadership of the U.S. labor movement has lurched steadily leftward. That this directional shift has occurred as public-sector union representation has grown, while private-sector representation has declined, is hardly a coincidence.

So what other evidence is there that Big Labor in the U.S. and the world’s socialists have once again become quite cozy? On Friday, Meredith Jessup at The Blaze, Glenn Beck’s online journalism outlet, provided some (bolds are mine):

Last fall, leftist ideological groups of socialists and communists teamed up with American labor unions to march together for “One Nation.” Now, as labor leaders struggle to maintain a stranglehold on collective bargaining privileges in Wisconsin, the same groups are once again marching together under a banner claiming unions are the heart of the American dream.

… Here in Washington, D.C., leftist activists at are co-hosting a rally Saturday with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). But behind the scenes, The Blaze has exclusively learned the rally has actually been organized by the International Socialist Organization.

… Despite and SEIU taking a leading role — along with a number of other sponsors including the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, George Soros’ Media Matters, the Apollo Alliance and the Sierra Club — the National Park Service has confirmed that the Saturday rally’s permit was requested by and issued to the International Socialist Organization, a group committed to building a “future socialist society.”

Imagine that.

In case you’re wondering, here’s what the International Socialist Organization says it’s all about:

The International Socialist Organization (ISO) is committed to building an organization that participates in the struggles for justice and liberation today–and, ultimately, for a future socialist society.

… The ISO stands in the tradition of revolutionary socialists Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky in the belief that workers themselves–the vast majority of the population–are the only force that can lead the fight to win a socialist society. Socialism can’t be brought about from above, but has to be won by workers themselves.

It’s fair to ask why we shouldn’t believe that leadership of the American labor movement isn’t also down with the Lenin-Trostky “struggles for justice and liberation today–and, ultimately, for a future socialist society.” Andy Stern’s deflective response to Ezra Klein was effectively a “no we’re not.” The clear high-level involvement of the International Socialist Organizations says “yes you are.”

In their Saturday evening coverage of a pro-union rally in DC earlier that day Frederick Kunkle and Spence S. Hsu only reported the following about who was behind the event:

The protests were part of a 50-state call to action by the liberal group, as labor, environmentalist, anti-war and other allied organizations assailed a drive by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Republican state lawmakers to roll back collective bargaining rights.

Rally organizer Joe Cook, who retired as executive director of the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said 45 groups sponsored the nationwide day of protest.

Don’t you love how the two WaPo writers lumped everyone else into “other allied organizations”? How convenient.

Cross-posted at



  1. Change the tense??

    Change their entire definition to “Bolsheviks!”

    Comment by locomotivebreath1901 — March 1, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

  2. #1, I liked the response over at your place to Klein’s current day inanity.

    Comment by TBlumer — March 1, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  3. Read Malkin on the Alinsky connection.

    Comment by Jim — March 1, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

  4. #3, thx for that.

    Comment by TBlumer — March 1, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

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