William S. Doherty RIP | Freedom House

William S. Doherty RIP


Photo Credit: The Doherty family
Freedom House mourns the death of William S. Doherty, a former Trustee and champion of democracy and worker rights in Latin America.

Bill Doherty is best remembered as the long-time director of the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), the arm of the American labor movement dedicated to promoting independent trade unions throughout the Americas.  He served  AIFLD from 1961 to 1990, most of the time as director.
During much of this period, organized labor in Latin America was under constant pressure from the left and right.  From the left, labor organizations that were influenced by Communist movements were engaged in a constant campaign to gain control of  unions throughout the region.  From the right, military juntas and reactionary forces worked to neutralize, weaken, and where possible destroy legitimate labor unions.  The adversaries of genuine worker rights  often resorted to violence in attempts to  achieve their aims. 
Bill Doherty was a leading personality in American labor’s ambitious  effort to build free, independent, and democratic unions throughout the world, an effort that had the strong support of Freedom House.  During the 1980s Freedom House worked closely with Doherty and AIFLD in the promotion of free labor in conflict-ridden countries like Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.  In each of these countries and in many others, independent unions that had benefited from American labor support played important roles in beating back dictatorships, death squads, and takeover efforts by totalitarian-inspired  movements. 
As a leading participant in American labor’s global fight for democracy, Bill Doherty made a real contribution to the spread of  democracy and worker rights during a critical period in Latin American history.  Freedom House was honored to count him as an ally and member of our board of trustees.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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