Those who doubt the connection between the communist party and the unions need only to read accounts of a recent awards ceremony to see how both groups view each other.
On Sunday, December 5, the Communist Party USA gave awards to a pair of labor leaders and a former state legislator and assistant attorney general.* Among the recipients was Connecticut AFL-CIO head John Olsen, who not only gladly accepted the award, but garnered "loud applause" when he said he stands with CPUSA.
CPUSA's webzine People's World reports Olsen was given the award at the Voices for Jobs, Equality & Peace - People's World Amistad Awards Concert celebrating the 90th anniversary of the CPUSA.
"James Hillhouse High School auditorium was filled with the fabulous jazz sounds of Jeff Fuller & Friends, labor songs by Bill Collins of the Rabble Rousers, and poetry by Baub Bidon and Ken Brown," the article describes the event. But besides offering a mental picture, it also gives a glimpse of Olsen's acceptance speech, in which he says he will stand with the Communist Party:
"Anyone who stands with me for workers' rights, I stand with them," said John Olsen to loud applause as he acknowledged the Communist Party and took a strong stand against fear mongering and baiting, including the anti-socialist baiting of President Barack Obama.
The article goes on to praise the union for its work, and explains how important the union is in fighting for CPUSA causes:
The AFL CIO and local unions are now developing their legislative agendas. For the first time in 22 years, a Democratic governor was elected in Connecticut. It is widely recognized that union members made the difference in voter turnout.
However, especially with the state budget crisis, grass roots organizing will be needed to forestall cuts and layoffs and to demand expanded revenues by taxing the very rich.
Research shows that Olsen has been popular in the Democratic Party. In 2009 he gave a speech at the JJB Dinner, an annual Connecticut Democratic Party event, and was introduced by newly-elected senator, and state attorney general, Dick Blumenthal:
Olsen's bio confirms he is currently a member of the Democratic National Committee and has served in numerous leadership roles for the Connecticut state Democratic Party including chairman.
Also of note, he served as a superdelegate at the 2008 Democratic convention, where he supported Hillary Clinton. And while in the video above it appears he has switched his allegiance to Barack Obama, now it appears he's also willing to support the Communist Party.
The ceremony was held at James Hillhouse Public High School in Connecticut. Not surprisingly, members of the CPUSA's youth organization the Young Communist League attended and even welcomed attendees to the event.
"It was politically and musically awesome!" Peoples World quoted one commenter as saying. "The food was excellent as well!"
"Not that long ago Americans openly rejected socialism and communism," Jim Hoft writes. "Now the communists are holding awards ceremonies and concerts in public high schools and openly honoring state labor leaders."
The Blaze contacted the high school but was not able to get a comment prior to publication.
Also receiving awards were Carmen Boudier, president of New England 1199, an SEIU branch, and Juan Figueroa, president of Universal Health Care Foundation. Figueroa is a former Connecticut legislator and Assistant Attorney General.
Here's how the article describes their speeches:
Carmen Boudier was greeted with a standing ovation by a large group of striking Spectrum nursing home workers who have been on the picket lines for eight months. "I accept this award," she said "on behalf of the workers and the struggles that we face."
Juan Figueroa recounted his youth in Cialis, Puerto Rico where his father taught him about social justice. Figueroa was the first Puerto Rican to run for Governor in Connecticut. "If you followed my campaign," he said, "That's where I got those values." He is now leading the effort for a public health care option in Connecticut.
This story has been updated to accommodate new information.