The United Steelworkers recently appealed for donations for “other steelworkers fighting in Ukraine”. The appeal for money, which is sent to the Trade Union of Metalworkers and Miners of Ukraine (PMGU), which is part of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU), has nothing to do with humanitarian aid, let alone with genuine working class Solidarity Instead, it is part of the AFL-CIO bureaucracy’s support for the US-NATO proxy war against Russia.
The request for support issued by the PMGU includes war materials, such as helmets, thermal imaging cameras, bulletproof vests and military boots, in addition to medical supplies. The letter also called for the creation of a “no-fly zone,” a huge expansion of the war in Ukraine that would mean a direct confrontation between the United States and NATO and Russia with potentially incalculable consequences.
The USW says the money will be used to help workers at the ArcelorMittal factory in Kryvyi Rih. But the money will not be used to help war-torn workers and their families, but to help arm Ukrainian military forces in preparation for a Russian military advance on Kryvyi Rih, the largest city in central Ukraine. Ukraine.
The USW and the so-called global union IndustriALL are essentially involved in an arms smuggling operation to advance the foreign policy goals of the Biden administration and the NATO powers. The United States and its allies do not seek a peaceful end to the war, but its escalation into full-scale war against nuclear-armed Russia. The goal of these insane war plans is to install a pro-American puppet in Moscow and seize Russia’s vast energy and mining assets.
Who are the recipients of USW aid to Ukraine? They are right-wing unions, deeply tied to the machinations of American foreign policy. The KVPU is a notorious US State Department/CIA labor front, with direct links to the Ukrainian far right, including the fascist Azov Battalion.
The KVPU has long been a conduit for money funneled from the US State Department through the AFL-CIO’s American Center for International Labor Solidarity (also known as the Solidarity Center). The Solidarity Center is almost entirely funded by the CIA’s front organization, the National Endowment for Democracy, as well as the State Department and USAID.
Such “unions” have long been used by the US government to disrupt and hijack the real struggles of workers in defense of decent working and living conditions and democratic rights. They helped install and maintain right-wing, authoritarian governments aligned with US foreign policy.
The American Institute for Free Labor Development, a predecessor of the Solidarity Center, participated in CIA-backed coups in a number of countries, including Guatemala (1954), British Guiana (1963), Brazil (1964), the Dominican Republic (1965) and Chile (1973).
The PMGU and the KVPU are among these sordid operations.
KVPU leader Mikhail Volynets is a longtime American asset. In 2004, Volynets received the AFL-CIO George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award in part for his work related to the US government-backed “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine. The operation was one of several US-sponsored “color” revolutions aimed at overthrowing pro-Russian administrations in Eastern Europe as part of a campaign to isolate and encircle Moscow.
In 2014, Volynets played a role in another regime change operation in Ukraine, aiding the fascist-backed coup that toppled President Yanukovych’s pro-Russian government and installed a pro-Western regime. Volynets and the KVPU helped organize a fraudulent “general strike” called in February 2014 as part of the regime change operation in the United States.
An account of Volynets’ role in the “strike” written by Oleg Vernyk, chairman of the all-Ukrainian independent trade union Zakhyst Pratsi (Labour Defence), appeared in the Ukrainian newsmagazine korrespondent.net.
While Ukrainian media hailed the strike as a “success”, it was largely ignored in eastern Ukraine. In a blog post, Vernyk wrote: “By order of the directors of the companies, the workers were forced to abandon their lunches and gather for an hour in front of the main entrances of their factories, to express their warm support for the leaders. of the opposition. A clip about this “lunch strike” at a linen factory in Rivne was constantly running on TV channel 5, which is owned by oligarch Petro Poroshenko. Its participants later openly admitted that their “strike” had been ordered by the factory manager. And that was the scenario for all the companies announced as having joined the “all-Ukrainian strike”.
In another mock operation conducted by the KPVU, Vernyk reported that “leaders of the political opposition demanded that Mikhail Volynets bring the miners to Kyiv – no miners arrived. Instead, Volynets asked its KVPU office workers to put on the miners’ helmets and simulate “Donetsk and Luhansk miners” in Maidan.
Vernyk continued: “[T]he KVPU has long since lost all its human and organizational resources and is unable to organize any “strike” by its own strength. For more than 20 years, the American union AFL-CIO has provided financial and organizational support to the KVPU.
In “Underground waterlines: Explaining the political quiescence of Ukrainian trade unions”, Denys Gorbach wrote: “In 2016, the KVPU officially entered into an alliance with the neo-Nazi regiment Azov, co-opting one of its fighters as deputy leader of the federation . (Chernomorskaya Teleradiokompaniya).
The individual chosen by Volynets was Ihor Kniazhansky, alias “Dushman” of the Azov Regiment, a fascist group which was incorporated as an official part of the Ukrainian army. Azov has become a rallying point for neo-fascists from around the world, who flock to Ukraine to gain real-life military experience.
In Secret Action Magazine, an article titled “The AFL-CIO’s Nazi-Friendly Union in Ukraine”, written by Giorgio Manfredi, noted: “Volynets chose Dushman, which would mean ‘smother’ in Ukrainian, because his ‘aggressive style helped the union to obtain concessions from the minister during the talks. Before joining Azov, Dushman fought in the war in Afghanistan and is currently the head of the Vinnytsia branch of the National Corps, a fascist political party.
Manfredi also reported, “In 2019 members of the US Congress considered declaring the Azov Battalion a terrorist organization. In response, Volynets and several other members of parliament signed a letter defending and praising the Azov Battalion. The letter also underlined the idea that Ukraine should join NATO in the future.
As for the Trade Union of Metalworkers and Miners at the ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih Steel Plant, Maksym Kazakov, a left-wing Ukrainian activist writes in Open democracy reported: “There are 10 trade unions operating in the plant, and the largest of them is the Trade Union of Metalworkers and Miners of Ukraine (PMGU), which is part of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine ( UPF). The PMGU can be considered a so-called “yellow” union, an official institution whose roots date back to the Soviet era, which mainly avoids conflicts with landlords and focuses on the distribution of bonuses, sanatorium trips and gifts. holidays to its members.
Workers, beware. The old adage, “Tell me what company you keep, and I’ll tell you who you are,” holds true here. The United Steelworkers are not interested in supporting Ukrainian workers but in advancing the pro-war agenda of the Biden administration in alliance with far-right and fascist forces in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, USW support for the Biden administration’s war campaign extends to the United States, where the USW intervened to block a threatened strike by 30,000 oil refinery workers in February and rammed through a miserable contract that guarantees workers’ wages will be eaten up by inflation, which is currently running at more than 8% a year. Unable to block a strike by workers at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, the USW kept the workers isolated in an attempt to wear them down.
The deal scuttling a national walkout was announced a day after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and three days after a virtual closed-door meeting between USW President Tom Conway and President Biden, Secretary of State Energy Jennifer Granholm and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. The meeting was no doubt used by the White House to give the USW president his marching orders to prevent any disruption in US energy supplies as Biden prepared for war against Russia.