The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) has taken a radical turn in a few of its recent social media postings, winking at the idea of airline workers executing their bosses and encouraging the proletariat to literally seize the means of production.
Yesterday, the AFL-CIO tweeted out an explainer video from self-described "anti-capitalist, worker-owned" streaming platform Means TV featuring Dan Whelan, identified as a "Marxist, roofer", explaining that the middle class is actually an illusion spread by the owners of society to divide the working class.
— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) May 14, 2019
"All workers under capitalism are subject to the same conditions of constantly producing more for as little wage compensation as possible," says Whelan.
Differences in income, type of work, or lifestyle that we use to draw distinctions between working- and middle-class wage earners are all a fiction, he goes on to say, created by "the rich and the media" to divide and distract workers from the inherent class conflicts in our society.
The country's largest labor organization apparently found these textbook Marxist talking points convincing enough to tweet out the video, along with the caption "we all need to seize the means of the production."
That tweet, taken on face value, seems to endorse some form of workers' revolution aimed at taking ownership of capital currently held in private hands. This understandably raised a few eyebrows.
— Philip Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) May 14, 2019
My God https://t.co/2GumcWXtqi
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) May 14, 2019
40% of the members of union households vote Republican https://t.co/fTPIoO3TDN
— Neoliberal ???? (@ne0liberal) May 14, 2019
This is not the first time the AFL-CIO has courted controversy in the past few days with some of its social media content.
Last week, in response to a widely circulated picture of a Delta Airlines poster suggesting its workers would have more money for video game consoles if they didn't pay union dues, the AFL-CIO tweeted out a meme suggesting that deprived of a union, workers would be spending that money on a guillotine instead.
The post was eventually taken down, and an AFL-CIO spokesperson issued a statement to CNN saying "we strive to keep our Twitter account actively engaging and real to advocate for working people," she said. "We came across and shared this Internet meme. We realize it was in poor taste, that [it] doesn't reflect the values of the AFL-CIO and it has been taken down."
Whether this latest invocation to seize the means of production is representative of the AFL-CIO's views as a whole is unclear. In recent years the organization has stuck to more incrementalist goals like raising wages for its members, not abolishing wage labor altogether.
Reason's request for clarification on this latest tweet was not returned by the time of publication.