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The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is the second largest AFL-CIO affiliated union, with approximately 1.4 million members in 2020. Like other AFL-CIO affiliates, it has consistently supported the US alliance with Israel, has significant investments in war and extractive industries, and also organizes police in union locals that defend racist, killer cops.

In 2007, the presidents of the AFL-CIO and several of its constituent unions, including then AFSCME president Gerald W. McEntee, signed on to a letter drafted by the Jewish Labor Committee opposing BDS.

AFSCME has been especially egregious in organizing police and supporting police unions, and participates in pro-cop propaganda efforts such as the National Police Week celebration. In an attempt to undercut rank and file demands to disaffiliate police after the summer of 2020, AFSCME passed a union resolution supporting police reform and specifically opposing disaffiliation. Although the AFSCME resolution mentions reducing "funding for programs that militarize public safety," AFSCME's practice as a union has continued to be business as usual. In their review of legislative attempts to reduce the police arsenal in New Mexico, Austin Fischer and David Correia document AFSCME's role in gutting provisions that would have banned chemical weapons, rubber bullets, and police attack dogs. Fischer and Correia write, "While the rest of the union movement is working to expel police from their unions because police have never been in solidarity with working people, AFSCME is working to defend the police arsenal and the ability of cops and jailers to use violence however they see fit."
As with other US unions, AFSCME invests heavily in weapons and extractive industries. Employees pension plan Form 5500 for 2020 shows substantial investments in Amazon, Boeing, Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, Dupont, GE, General Dynamics, HP, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Pfizer, Plains American Pipeline, Shell, and many others.

AFSCME in Massachusetts: Local 3650 at Harvard

The Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) is an AFSCME local (AFSCME 3650), which promotes itself as "Harvard University's largest labor union, representing 5000+ staff in every school and department."

As a union, HUCTW claims to represent a creative and non-adversarial approach to union organizing, which translates into a cozy relationship with Harvard management, and a refusal to engage in any meaningful solidarity with political projects that confront Harvard's many forms of oppressive power. Priding itself on the slogan “It’s not anti-Harvard to be pro-Union,” HUCTW elaborates: "Through collaboration and interest-based bargaining with our faculty and administrative colleagues, we are helping to defeat the notion of a zero-sum game of employees versus employer."

In practice, HUCTW leverages its status as Harvard's largest union to win concessions for its workforce by keeping the organization not only out of meaningful solidarity with other political struggles -- e.g. student-led efforts at divestment from colonialism, community struggles for rent-control in Cambridge-- but also out of meaningful solidarity with other unions at Harvard. As just one example, during the historic dining-hall workers strike in 2016, HUCTW sent out a message to all its members reminding them, "HUCTW is not on strike – HUCTW members are expected to report to work as scheduled on Wednesday [October 5, 2016--the first day of the strike], and to work all scheduled hours during any Local 26 action that might take place."

HUCTW leaders launched the New England Organizing Project (NEOP) to spread their collaborationist model to other institutions in the region. HUCTW and NEOP share the same leadership and office space (15 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA).

HUCTW leaders also participate as "program faculty" in the Harvard Trade Union Program, which promotes a bureaucratic union culture friendly to business, and participates with the AFL-CIO's overseas institutes in cultivating a global labor movement that will not challenge US imperialism. (See our entries on AFL-CIO and the Harvard Trade Union Program).

8 Beacon St., 2nd Floor, Boston, MA 02108

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