Park Slope Food Coop, Brooklyn, NY -- I recently saw a classified ad in the Gazette asking for volunteers to help a "women's press collective" produce materials about "struggles of farm workers and others for economic justice." I also saw Women's Press Collective flyers posted around the neighborhood and at street fairs.
Any Coop members attracted by the chance to work for economic justice should be aware that, according to the Cult Awareness Network, this group is not what it seems and is not primarily interested in justice for farm workers. It is apparently an offshoot of the National Labor Federation (NATLFED), described in a Boston Globe article as "a secretive, cult-like radical group" whose inner circle has revolutionary agenda unknown to the volunteers the group pulls in through such fronts as the press collective. It uses on its members many of the deceptive, restrictive, coercive tactics associated with cults. According to a former member quoted by the Globe, "They use poor people as flypaper to attract members."
Another apparent offshoot of NATLFED is the Eastern Farm Workers Association, for which the Women's Press Collective helps produce newspapers. this group has been discredited by labor organizations, the UFW, and by various newspapers, including the East Hampton Star, which documented a history including psychological manipulation, sleep and protein deprivation, and threats of physical harm if members left the group. A group also said to be affiliated with NATLFED is the Coalition of Concerned Medical Professionals.
So please, don't be mislead by the "progressive" language of the Women's Press Collective ad, and be aware that young people have been especially vulnerable. All the published reports tell stories of young, idealistic volunteers "disappearing" into this tightly controlled group. For more information, call the Cult Awareness Network, listed in the phone book, or the Jewish Family Services cult hotline.