Karen Ackerman

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Karen Ackerman

Karen B. Ackerman is Political Director of the AFL-CIO.

Second Venceremos Brigade

In 1970 Karen Ackerman from Pennsylvania, was a member of the second Venceremos Brigade to Cuba.[1]

Communist background

The Pink Sheet on the Left, a publication that served for many years as an authoritative report on left-wing activities, said in 1976 that Ackerman was a member of the Young Workers Liberation League, the youth arm of the Communist Party USA, and had been an organizer with the communist-dominated Local 1199 of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees.

An earlier House Internal Security Committee (HISC) Staff Study entitled "Subversive Involvement in the Origin, Leadership and Activities of the New Mobilization Committee (NMC) to End the War in Vietnam", 1970, p. 30, identified Ackerman as not only a listed member of the US. delegation to the Soviet peace front, the World Peace Assembly held in East Berlin, June 21-24, 1969, (item 6), but also described her as a member of the CPUSA's youth front, the W.E.B. DuBois Club W.E. B. DuBois Clubs of America (DCA), Philadelphia, citing to Footnote 357, p. 67, "Provisional List of Participants," World Peace Assembly , June 21-24, 1969, p. 79.

Ackerman attended the Tenth World Festival of Youth and Students in communist East Germany in 1973. Ackerman, identified as then being an organizer for labor union Local 1199 from Philadelphia, was quoted as saying, “What the festival has done for me, and I’m sure for many others, is help us to understand just what imperialism has done to the rest of the world. We tend to get demoralized struggling in the U.S., but when we see what others are struggling against and the victories they have won, it gives us strength.”

Most of the American delegates were Young Workers Liberation League members or anti-Vietnam War activists.

World Magazine, a publication of the Communist Party USA, reported that Ackerman “was particularly impressed” during her visit to the communist police state “with the bilateral meetings of the U.S. with the Vietnamese and Free German Youth of the GDR [German Democratic Republic.]”[2]

Early union career

Karen Ackerman started as an organizer[3]in the early 1970’s with hospital workers in the Philadelphia area. Moving to New York in 1979, she worked for District 65 UAW and later the CWA organizing clerical and telephone workers.

In 1986, the New York State Public Employees Federation, affiliated with the AFT and SEIU, employed Ackerman as Political Director, where she continued to organize union members to work on political campaigns as well as work on campaigns directly herself.

Political organizing

During the early 1980s, Ackerman, worked a New York mayoral race as well as a United States Senate race working on field operations and as liaison to the labor community.

In the 1989 New York City mayoral race, Ackerman ran the labor effort for David Dinkins in Brooklyn for the Central Labor Council.

As campaign manager for Nydia Velazquez in 1992, Ackerman ran a successful campaign against incumbent Steven Solarz for the newly created Congressional seat in the 12th District of New York. Moving to Washington, DC after the race, Ackerman served as Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Velazaquez until 1996.[4]

Ackerman also campaigned for Mark Green.[5]


In 1996, then AFL-CIO Political Director, Steve Rosenthal asked Ackerman[6]to join the Political Department to direct the Labor ’96 program.

In 1997, she was appointed AFL-CIO Deputy Political Director and continued to oversee the Political program as well as direct the AFL-CIO PAC.

When Steve Rosenthal left the AFL-CIO immediately following the 2002 elections, President John Sweeney invited Karen Ackerman to becomePolitical Director-the first woman ever to hold the position.

In 2004, Ackerman directed the AFL-CIO's most aggressive presidential election mobilization effort ever, focusing on issues of economic security and engaging record numbers of union members in the political process. In November 2004, one in every four voters came from a union family and union members voted more than 2 to 1 for John Kerry and other union endorsed candidates.

Progressive Majority

In 2011 Karen Ackerman served on the board of Progressive Majority.[7]

Ballot Initiatives Strategy Center

The board of the Ballot Initiatives Strategy Center is made up of Karen Ackerman of AFL-CIO, Earl Bender of Avenel Associates, Mary Jean Collins of People for the American Way, John Jameson of Winning Connections, Mike Lux of Progressive Strategies, Matt McKinnon of International Association of Machinists, John Ost of American Federation of Teachers, Amy Pritchard of AP Campaigns and Mission Control, Will Robinson of The New Media Group, Larry Scanlon of AFSCME, Gloria Totten of Progressive Majority, Lisa Turner of The Turner Group, LLC, Gail Tuzzolo of Gail Tuzzolo Associates, Michael J. Wilson of United Food and Commercial Workers union, Carrie Pugh of the National Education Association, Jon Youngdahl of Service Employees International Union, Michael Ettlinger of Center for American Progress, Heather Holdridge of Care2, Bernie Horn of Campaign for America's Future, Hans Johnson of Progressive Victory, Laurie Moskowitz of Fieldworks, Crystal Plati (consultant and former Executive Director of ChoiceUSA), and Daniel Smith, Ph.D. from the University of Florida.


  1. THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF COMMUNISM IN 1972 (Venceremos Brigade) PART 2, hearings before the Committee on Internal Security 92nd Congress oct 16-19, 1972 pages 8136-8138
  2. [h.ttp://www.aim.org/aim-column/castros-puppet-works-for-progressive-congress/, Castro’s Puppet Works for “Progressive Congress”, Cliff Kincaid — June 26, 2012]
  3. http://www.politico.com/arena/bio/karen_ackerman.html
  4. http://www.politico.com/arena/bio/karen_ackerman.html
  5. Castro’s Puppet Works for “Progressive Congress”, Cliff Kincaid — June 26, 2012
  6. http://www.politico.com/arena/bio/karen_ackerman.html
  7. Progressive majority BOD page, accessed July 1 2012