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«In the Interest of Democracy»

The Rise and Fall of the Early Cold War Alliance Between the American Federation of Labor and the Central Intelligence Agency

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Quenby Hughes

Until recently, there has been little concrete evidence linking the American Federation of Labor (AFL) to the U.S. government’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In this book, based upon recently opened archival collections, the author investigates this controversial and complicated early Cold War relationship. Contrary to arguments that the AFL’s international activities were entirely controlled by the U.S. government to the detriment of the independent international labor movement, or that the AFL acted on its own without government involvement to foster legitimate anti-communist trade unions, the author’s examination of the archival sources reveals that the AFL and the CIA made an alliance of convenience based upon common goals and ideologies, which dissolved when the balance of power shifted away from the AFL and into the hands of the CIA.
In addition to tracing the complicated historical threads which resulted in an apparently unlikely relationship, three specific examples of how the AFL worked with the CIA are investigated in this book: the development of the anti-communist trade union federation Force Ouvrière in France; the AFL campaign against the Soviet Union’s use of «slave labor» at the UN; and labor’s role in the activities of the National Committee for a Free Europe, including Radio Free Europe and the Free Trade Union Center in Exile.

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Contents Preface vii Acknowledgments xi List of Acronyms xiii Introduction 1 Part I Getting Together 9 Chapter One “In the Lead of the World:” From the Birth of the American Federation of Labor in the 1880s to Lovestone’s Expulsion from the CPUSA 11 Chapter Two “There’ll Be a Revolution:” Industrial Unionism, Communism and Lovestone’s Shift to the Right 39 Chapter Three Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Enter the Free Trade Union Committee and the Central Intelligence Agency 55 Part II Working Together 79 Chapter Four “Fertile Fields:” The Free Trade Union Committee in France 81 vi Chapter Five “A Certain Strategic Emergency:” The Free Trade Union Committee, the United Nations and the Issue of Slave Labor 97 Chapter Six “People Speaking to People:” Labor’s Role in the Radio Free Europe and with the National Committee for a Free Europe 117 Part III Falling Apart 131 Chapter Seven “AFL Stooges:” The Unraveling of the Relationship between the Free Trade Union Committee and the National Committee for a Free Europe 133 Chapter Eight “Allies and Not Agents:” The Decline of the Relationship between the Free Trade Union Committee and the Central Intelligence Agency 163 Conclusion 177 Selected Bibliography 191 Index 199

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