The American Center for International Labor Solidarity (commonly referred to as Solidarity Center) was founded in 1997 by the largest federation of labor unions in the United States, the AFL-CIO. Solidarity Center has offices all over the world and claims to be working with more than 400 labor unions across the globe.
The Solidarity Center receives the majority of its funding from United States government grants. The bulk of these grants come from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Although it also receives a small amount of funding from other organizations, Solidarity Center’s 2016 990 form reveals that it received $300,000 from related organizations compared to the $29.9 million it received from government grants.
The Solidarity Center was founded in 1997 the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations). The nonprofit organization is currently working with more than 400 labor unions in over sixty countries around the world. The Solidarity Center is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(5) labor union.
Before John Sweeney became president of the AFL-CIO in 1995, the federation was more centrist and anti-communist than it is today. Sweeney instigated a reform of the federation when he took leadership; turning it into a more left-wing organization by removing members “who were associated with the old crowd and their Cold War line.”
According to multiple reports, Solidarity Center receives the majority of its funding from the United States government via grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Solidarity Center received just under $30 million from government grants in 2004, $29 million in 2005, $29.5 million in 2006, $27 million in 2007, $28.5 million in 2008, $28.9 million in 2009, $28.5 million in 2010, $28.6 million in 2011, $31 million in 2012, $32 million in 2013, $31 million in 2014, and $29.6 million in 2015.
Solidarity Center also receives funding from private foundations. According to the organization’s 2016 990 form, it received $300,000 from related organizations compared to the $29.9 million it received from government grants.
Between 1997 and 2005, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided Solidarity Center with a core grant of $9 million annually. The agency then dropped its core funding to $7.5 million annually.
The Solidarity Center operates in more than 60 countries around the world and has around 26 offices in countries such as Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Croatia, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Venezuela.
Far-left organizations and media entities, including the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) and the socialist labor union Industrial Workers of the World, have alleged that Solidarity Center was involved with multiple coups, most notably a failed coup against the leftist regime of Hugo Chavez in 2002 in Venezuela.
Solidarity Center likewise supported a small labor union that wanted to oust then-leader of Haiti Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The organization sent nearly $100,000 to Batay Ouvriye, a labor union which refused to oppose Aristide’s removal from office.
One article on Solidarity Center’s website laments that “Attempts at a Palestinian national dialogue have failed to bring unity between the two political parties, Fatah and Hamas.” Fatah is essentially the late Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), arguably one of the most renowned terrorist organizations in the world, while Hamas is a terrorist group that aims to destroy Israel.
Another article on the website links to a report written by the pro-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). The report referred to Israel as the “Zionist entity,” a phrase used by Islamists who deny Israel’s right to exist to refer to the country.
Solidarity Center also wrote an article condemning Israel’s position on ceasefire during the Israeli “Protective Edge” military campaign against Hamas. In the article, Solidarity Center links to multiple anti-Israel labor groups.
The AFL-CIO, the largest federation of labor unions in the U.S., founded the Solidarity Center in 1997 and maintains close affiliation with the nonprofit. Although the AFL-CIO originally began as a more centrist labor federation, it became more left-of-center after John Sweeney took leadership in 1995. Since its controversial current president, Richard Trumka, took over, the federation has become closely aligned with the organizational Left and the Democratic Party.
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka is chair of the board of directors for the Solidarity Center.
John Sweeney is president emeritus of the Center.