Trade Unions

Polish Solidarity with Wisconsin public workers

Politics Daily reports:

The Polish trade union Solidarity, whose protests in the early 1980s helped precipitate the downfall of Soviet communism, has embraced the cause of Wisconsin’s protesting public workers.

Piotr Duda, head of the 700,000-member “Solidarnosc” trade union, wrote that on behalf of his organization he wanted to “express our solidarity and support for your struggle against the recent assault on trade unions and trade union rights unleashed by Governor Scott Walker,” Wisconsin’s budget-cutting Republican executive.

“We are witnessing yet another attempt of transferring the costs of the economic crisis and of the failed financial policies to working people and their families,” Duda wrote. “As much as some adjustments are necessary, we can not and must not agree that the austerity measures are synonymous with union busting practices, the elimination of bargaining rights and the reduction of social benefits and wages.”

“Your victory is our victory as well,” Duda concluded, pledging assistance if the public employee unions need it.

Recall that support from the American labor federation the AFL-CIO was critical to the success of Solidarnosc in its struggle against the Communist regime:

Under [then-President Lane] Kirkland’s leadership, the AFL-CIO provided valuable aid to the Solidarity labor movement in Poland. Agents of the American federation smuggled $6 million worth of essential communications equipment into Poland in the early 1980s to aid the Solidarity underground. The peaceful revolution that began in Poland spread to the rest of Eastern Europe, putting an end to Soviet domination by the close of the decade. In the newly freed countries, leaders such as Lech Walesa of Poland and Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic acknowledged their debt of gratitude to Kirkland and the AFL-CIO.

I’ve tried to find evidence of similar assistance to Solidarnosc from the American corporate sector, but have so far been unsuccessful. However there were a number of American companies that were pleased to do business with Communist Poland.

Update: During the Cold War, when Republicans denounced Communism, one of the evils they mentioned (quite correctly) was the suppression of free trade unions.

Can anyone imagine contemporary Republicans like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker or South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (who said “There’s no secret I don’t like the unions” and has said she’ll fight to keep private sector unions out of the state) or Republican House majority leader Eric Cantor (who voted to cut off funding for the National Labor Relations Board, which conducts union elections in the private sector) having the nerve to do that today?

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