Solidarity Center

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Solidarity Center
Native name Solidarity Center
Founded 1997
Head union Shawna Bader-Blau, Executive Director
Affiliation AFL-CIO
Key people Richard Trumka (labor leader), Board of Trustees Chair
Office location 888 16th Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20006; global field offices
Country United States

The Solidarity Center is a non-profit organization aligned with the AFL-CIO labor federation.

Its stated mission is to help build a global labor movement by strengthening the economic and political power of workers around the world through effective, independent, and democratic unions.


The AFL-CIO established the Solidarity Center in 1997. The Solidarity Center was created through the consolidation of four labor institutes: the American Institute for Free Labor Development, the Asian-American Free Labor Institute, the African-American Labor Institute, and the Free Trade Union Institute. The pre-existing institutes were merged by John Sweeney shortly after he became president of the AFL–CIO.

The AFL-CIO had worked internationally for many decades. With some funding from the OSS and CIA, it had worked to stop Communist movements in Western Europe after World War II.[1] With the 1997 launch of the Solidarity Center, those ties ended.[2]

In 2002, the Solidarity Center, the international arm of the AFL-CIO, received $154,377 from the United States National Endowment for Democracy to assist the CTV in Venezuela. Shortly after, the leader of the CTV, Carlos Ortega, worked closely with Pedro Carmona Estanga, the president of the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce, to stage the failed Venezuelan coup of 2002.[3]


The Solidarity Center focuses its programs in the following areas:[4]

  • Worker & Human Rights
  • Trade Union Strengthening
  • Informal Economy
  • Gender & Equality
  • Safety & Health
  • Labor Migration & Human Trafficking
  • Rule of Law

The Solidarity Center assisted in Haiti's FTZ (Free Trade Zone). When textile manufacturer Grupo M, the Dominican Republic’s largest employer, applied to the International Finance Corporation (the World Bank’s private sector lending arm) for a $20 million loan to open a factory on the Haiti-Dominican border, the Solidarity Center, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the Dominican Federation of Free Trade Zone Workers (FEDOTRAZONAS) worked together to condition the loan on respect for worker rights.


More than 96 percent of its funding comes from the United States federal government, mostly through U.S. Aid for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy.[5] The NED distributes grants to four institutes, two associated with economic interests and two with political interests. The Solidary Center is associated with labor.

The Solidarity Center receives funding from private foundations as well.[6]

Field offices[edit]

The Solidarity Center's main offices are in Washington, D.C. The organization has field offices in roughly 28 countries and programs in approximately 60 countries.[7]


  1. ^ Lodge, George C. (1962). Spearheads of Democracy: Labor in the Developing Countries Harper & Row for the Council on Foreign Relations: New York. ASIN B0006AY0AU
  2. ^ American Prospect, "The CIO without the CIA," December 19, 2001
  3. ^ Marquis, Christopher (2002-04-25). "U.S. Bankrolling Is Under Scrutiny for Ties to Chávez Ouster". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  4. ^ Solidarity Center, "What We Do"
  5. ^ NED Resource Summary, U.S. State Department
  6. ^ 2014 Solidarity Center Annual Report
  7. ^ Solidarity Center, "Who We Are"

Further reading[edit]