In the iconic 1970s TV show “All In The Family,” Archie Bunker’s socially conservative worldview—pro-traditional values and anti-“Commie pinko”—was attributed in part to his blue-collar labor union politics.

There were no Archie Bunkers at a recent Labor Notes gathering in Rosemont, Ill., just outside Chicago.  Attendees learned about transgender rights, heard the pro-Hamas feminist perspective on the Middle East, and were invited to join the Democratic Socialists of America.

The left-wing pro-labor conference is part of shifting dynamics in America’s labor movement, where progressive politics are becoming more popular. The new president of the United Auto Workers union, Shawn Fain, makes no secret of his ties to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which worked hard to help him win his post.

Labor Notes, the DSA, and the George Soros-backed Private Equity Stakeholder Project (PESP) are all part of the growing progressive influence within American unions.

On display at the Labor Notes 2024 event in Rosemont, Ill.

At the Labor Notes conference in early April, activists swamped the area outside Hyatt Regency O’Hare to chant “Free Palestine” and square off with local police. Inside, they attended workshops and speeches featuring activists like University of California, Santa Barbra professor (and Hamas defender) Charmaine Chua and Azani Creeks, a PESP research coordinator who was part of the coordinated anti-Israel protests in New York that shut down traffic.

PESP positions itself as a watchdog organization protecting workers from the investment class. However, its social media feed features calls for ending U.S. support for Israel and “complicity with Israel’s crimes” and the message that, “Liberation looks like terrorism in the eyes of the oppressor.”

The latter came from PESP senior housing campaign coordinator K. Agbebiyi. Those are not the political views traditionally associated with blue-collar union members, many of whom voted for Republican Donald Trump in 2020. And polls show Trump’s support among union households is higher today than four years ago.

Politically moderate union members say organized labor used to be a bulwark protecting workers’ rights, fighting for fair wages, decent benefits, safe working conditions, and needed time off. Now, unions are under siege, targeted for takeover by progressive groups pushing an extreme, socialist agenda. Still, a minority in labor, the progressives are gaining ground, the moderates fear.

This year’s Labor Notes conference devolved into a standoff between a pro-Palestinian mob and police on the first day. As protestors chanted “Free Palestine,” police took two women from the crowd into custody. Thousands of the labor protesters surrounded the officers, blocking traffic and shouting that the police were “fascists.” The incident escalated, with one video showing about half a dozen Rosemont officers surrounded by thousands of protestors chanting “union power.” Both detainees were soon released.

Rosemont Police did not respond to a request for comment about the incident, and it is unclear why the women were taken into custody.

The 2024 Labor Notes conference brought together 4,500 union activists from across the United States and beyond.

But activists like those at the Labor Notes conference don’t represent the men and women who are dues paying union members. One union chief, Rich Gulla, president of New Hampshire’s State Employees Association, said groups like the DSA, Labor Notes, and PESP don’t speak for his members.

“The State Employees’ Association represents more than 10,000 public and private sector workers in New Hampshire, all committed to defending and improving the varied and critical services we provide for our state’s citizens and visitors. We are focused on New Hampshire issues and not foreign policy,” Gulla said.

The drama created by the leftist labor activists comes as the country’s biggest and most powerful labor union, the Teamsters, is signaling a possible right turn. Last week, the Teamsters’ political action committee gave conservative Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) a $5,000 campaign donation.

The Teamsters are traditional blue-collar Democrats and rarely side with Republicans. But Hawley has shown pro-union sympathies and even joined picket lines for the Teamsters and the United Auto Workers. In a presidential election year, while the Teamsters have yet to back a candidate, they did donate $45,000 to the Republican National Committee for its upcoming national convention. That’s the most the Teamsters donated to the RNC since 2004, according to Axios.