(DRAFT Sept/78)  The American Institute for Free Labour Development (AIFLD)

The attached documents were recently "released" by Transnational Features Service of London, supporters of the CLAT, Latin American arm of the Brussels based World Confederation of Labour (the International Confederation of Christian Trade Unions up to 1968).

They are of interest to Caribbean trade unionists in that they provide an insight into the operations of the AIFLD in the Caribbean. Since the complete documents are rather bulky, their reproduction in entirety would be too expensive for wide circulation, hence the use of the following background material and analysis to put the attached partial documentation into perspective. Complete copies have been provided to key progressive groups in a number of countries.

The AIFLD was formed in 1961 at the instigation of George Meany of the AFL-CIO and President Kennedy"s Alliance for Progress. Although a tripartite body governed by representatives of the AFL-CIO, the U.S. Government and American business interests, the bulk of the AIFLD's funding comes from USAID, in fact 93% between 1962 and 1974 - see Appendix I of the GAO Report to the Congress. (1) The Alliance for Progress was an attempt to save Latin America from communism after the Cuban revolution. The route to salvation lay in development, and development meant industrialization. Industrialization meant a workforce "properly” organized by western unionism lest it fall into communist hands.

In this light, the following quotationfrom an AIFLD internal evaluation report is relevant: "Against this background, (ie. the 'socialist' tradition of the British and hence the Guyanese labour movement) American labor philosophy can contribute some further healthy inputs. Perhaps most central is the concept that labor should concentrate as much in enlarging the size of the pie as in seeking a larger share of the existing one. In this respect, ideas such as cooperation with management and government in improving productivity, responsibility in avoiding unnecessary work stoppages, and the necessity in collective bargaining to take account of the needs of the country and of industry for stability and growth, can all have significant value." (2)

A further indication of American labor philosophy is outlined in the description of an AIFLD course on "comparative political philosophies" which covers "Marxist class theory and its conversion in practice to a totalitarian dictatorship of the intellectuals in developing countries; democratic theory and its application in developing areas." (3)

The bulk of AIFLD courses cover "neutral" and useful areas such as collective bargaining techniques, economic research to strengthen labor's bargaining positions, organizational techniques and cooperative management. However, they are given primarily by non-militant trade union leaders and university or government advisors with perspectives that do not include the concept of surplus value nor accept that most, if not all, modern corporations turn a blind eye to or consciously suppress wages and working conditions in deference to shareholder profits.

From its inception in 1962, to 1976, 17,522 english-speaking Caribbean students attended AIFLD in-country training programmes, mainly under the auspices of the Caribbean Congress of Labour. (4) The following numbers of Caribbean students graduated from the AIFLD"s Front Royal College in the U.S.A. from 1962 to 1976: Guyana-47, Barbados-22 and Trinidad and Tobago-33. In addition, the following numbers have graduated from the AIFLD sponsored Labour Economics Course at Georgetown University in Washington FROM l962 to 1976 Guyana-5, Barbados-5 and Trinidad and Tobago-6. (5)

An employer in Guyana "expressed the view that there was a very sharp difference between leaders whose experience was exclusively in Guyana and those who had opportunities for extensive study abroad.” (6)

In such relatively small countries, these numbers and attitudes indicate a significant AIFLD impact on the trade union leadership of the english-speaking Caribbean and even on the general membership as far as the in-country training is concerned. It is no small wonder that moderation and non-militancy are the hallmarks of the Caribbean Congress of Labour and its affiliates in the face of the worst economic and political assult on the working class since the depression of the 1930's.

In addition to its dulling effect on trade union militancy, the AIFLD has long been accused of being the labor arm of the CIA in Latin America. The most telling example of CIA labor manipulation in the Caribbean was the 79 day Guyanese general strike in l963 which led to the fall of the Jagan government and to the imposition of the proportional representation constitution which was gerry- mandered to install Forbes Burnham, also reputed to have been on the CIA payroll. The London Sunday Times of April 16, 1967 provides an account of how the CIA channeled the bulk of the strike pay, an estimated L 150,000, to Guyana via the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees (AFSCME) and the Public Services International (PSI). CIA funds were ”donated” to the AFSCME and thence to the PSI's American representative Howard McCabe working out of a downtown Georgetown Hotel. (7)

While the AIFLD has not been directly implicated in these transfers, Sidney Lens, in "Partners: Labor and the CIA" claims that six AFL- CIO people were sent to Guyana to dispense a million dollars of CIA money. George Meany is President of both the AFL-CIO and the AIFLD. Philip Agee further documents the AIFLD/CIA connection in his book, "Inside the Company - CIA Diary". (8)

It is interesting to note that the AIFLD still channels about 10% of its annual budget through AFL-CIO affiliates of the International Trade Secretariates, of which the PSI is one. (9) The applications from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Communication Workers of America (CWA) for $70,000 and $174,000 respectively from the AIFLD"s Union-to-Union funds in 1977 are extremely vague and leave much room for speculation that portions of these budgets could be used for activities unrelated to trade union education. (See Attached) In both cases, these monies were to be used to fund Latin American and Caribbean activities of the respective International Trade Secretariates which the AFT and CWA belong to.  In this regard, it is interesting to note that the GAO Report to the Congress on the AIFLD commented on activities other than the educational and social welfare programmes of the AIFLD, such as “technical assistance provided formally and informally between the classes; information, advice, councel, guidance, moral support, encouragement, expertise." One institute official is quoted as considering these activities as more important than the formal lectures. State (Dept.) and (US)AID further stated that (the understanding of) these activities..., required a full grasp of local conditions, including delicate political matters." They further note that "the institutes unclassified periodic reports do not give a full account of this effort.” The GAO added that "We are unable to evaluate the effectiveness or importance of these "other" activities. Little or no documentation was available concerning them, nor did the contracts and grant contain any specific provisions requiring the institutes to carry them out., (l0) These "other” activities undoubtably included such items as US$1,000 for the CTP in Peru to paint propaganda on walls in Lima (11) or funds for the truck owners and mining professionals strikes which contributed to the downfall of Allende in Chile. (12)

It would be simplistic however to assume that the entire ICFTU and its affiliated International Trade Secretariates (ITS) are tools of the CIA simply because it is known that one or more ITS"s have acted as conduits for CIA covert funding. George Meany, President of the AFL-CIO (and President of the AIFLD) led the AFL-CIO out of the ICFTU in 1969 believing that it had become too radical . The growing communist, socialist and social-democratic labour movements in Europe have led the ICFTU to maintain a dialogue with the WCL and the WFTU. In addition, there are lots of reasons for the ICFTU to distance itself from the AFL-CIO and the many charges of collaboration with U.S. Imperialism levelled against them and the AIFLD. The AIFLD country plans for 1977 list only 7 ITS's out of 17 as recipients of funds via their AFL-CIO affiliates.

The reduction of world purchasing power for manufactured goods created by OPEC"s increased share of the value of international trade has led to growing competition by American and European capital for markets. This in turn has led to attacks on U.S. imperialism by groups mainly noted in the past for their anti-communist policies rather than an analysis of imperialism. It is possible for example that the heavy funding of the CLAT by West German corporations via the Christian Democrat controlled Konrad Adenauer Foundation is likely related to this competition between U.S. and European capital. Similarly the funding of the Frederick Eibert Foundation by the governing West German Social Democratic Party and its institutions is also likely related to this trans- atlantic struggle for markets. Non-militant trade union leaders act either knowingly or unwittingly, as pawns in the struggle for the survival of transnational corporations as the capitalist crisis deepens.

The role of the Moscow oriented World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) also deserves study, in that the struggle between Western capital and the USSR is also a major factor in world economics and politics. This material only purports to treat the AIFLD in depth however and leaves serious study of the CLAT, the ICFTU and the WFTU to others or to later papers.


1. Report to the Congress by the Comptroller General of the United States (GAO - General Accounting Office), "How to Improve Management of U.S.-Financed Programs to Develop Free Labor Movements in Less Developed Countries", December 29, 1975.
2. "An Appraisal of Program Effectiveness and Management of the AIFLD - Based on Information Obtained in Brazil, Guyana, Honduras and Washington D.C." by the American Technical Assistance Corporation, Washington D.C. USA, April 1970, p.28 of Part III, Guyana Field Survey.
3. Latin America Economic Report, February 17, 1978, Vol.VI, No.7, p.56.
4. AIFLD Annual Progress Report, 1962-1977, 15th Anniversary
5. AIFLD Country Programme outlines for Guyana, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, AIFLD, Nov., Sept. and Sept. 1976.
6. AIFLD Appraisal, op. cit. p.31 of Part III on Guyana.
7. Sunday Times article
8. "Partners: Labor and the CIA, Sidney Lens, The Progressive, 1975, (408 W. Gorham St., Madison, WI 53703, USA) "Inside the Company - CIA Diary", Philip Agee, Penguin
9. AIFLD Regional Labor Plans for Washington Headquarters and Union-to-Union Program 1977-1981, Book I.
10. Report to the Congress, GAO, op. cit., p.11.
11. Latin America Economic Report, Feb.17, 1978
12. "Covert Action In Chile", Staff Report of the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect To Intelligence Activities,", U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C., April 26, 1976.


- See footnotes 1 to 5 above. Numbers 1 and 2 are 78 pages and 82 pages respectively and hence only the cover, index, 3 page summary, pages 11 and 12 and Appendices I to V and IX and X of the first and none of the second are appended. A complete copy of the document in footnote 2 has been sent to the Working Peoples"Alliance in Guyana.
- See footnotes 7 & 8. Both attached
- Footnote 9, cover, p.26 with Washington Headquarter"s budget and added notes from the author and sections from the Union-to-Union Programme section attached.
- AIFLD Country Labor Plans for 1977-1981, Book II. complete section for english-speaking Caribbean area (ie. CCL support program) is attached.

Transnational Features Service, P.O.Box 19148 A, Los Angeles CA 90019 Tel. 213-731-5289 (July 1978)
Labour Research Department, 78 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HF UK Tel. 01-928-3649 (1978)
Rodney Larson, 4a Compton Terrace, London NI Tel. 01-359-2831 (July 1978)