David Walsh
Global Research

October 11, 2011

In a widely reproduced article October 5 (“Seeking Energy, Unions Join Protest Against Wall Street”), the New York Times pointed prominently to the attitude and role of Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), in relation to the current Occupy Wall Street protests.

The Times first explained that “Appelbaum, an influential union leader in New York City, was in Tunisia last month, advising the fledgling labor movement there, when he received a flurry of phone calls and e-mails alerting him to the rumblings of something back home.”

Thus “alerted” to the spreading protests, “Mr. Appelbaum recalled asking a colleague over the phone to find out who was behind Occupy Wall Street—a bunch of hippies or perhaps troublemakers?—and whether the movement might quickly fade.”

The article went on to observe that this week “several prominent unions … made their first effort to join forces with Occupy Wall Street.” The newspaper cites Appelbaum’s comment: “The labor movement needs to tap into the energy and learn from them … They are reaching a lot of people and exciting a lot of people that the labor movement has been struggling to reach for years.”

As we noted yesterday on the WSWS, the AFL-CIO officialdom is intervening in the Occupy Wall Street protests to prevent them from emerging as a mass movement independent of the Democratic Party and oriented toward socialism. Nothing terrifies the union leadership more than the thought of working class revolt in the US.

When the Times, equally anxious to see the political strangulation of the Occupy Wall Street movement, comes to write about the AFL-CIO and the Wall Street protests, the first name that comes up is Appelbaum’s. Who, or it might perhaps be better phrased, what is Stuart Appelbaum?

First, what was Mr. Appelbaum doing in Tunisia? The Times does not say, but the general outlines of the AFL-CIO intervention there are clear, based on the organization’s history and recent activity.

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