Shortly after coming to power, Trumka, Sweeney and Chavez-Thompson rescinded a founding AFL-CIO rule that banned Communist Party members and loyalists from leadership positions within the Federation and its unions. The “New Voice” triumvirate welcomed Communist Party delegates to positions of power in the Federation. And the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) declared itself “in complete accord” with the troika’s new AFL-CIO program. “The radical shift in both leadership and policy is a very positive, even historic change,” wrote CPUSA National Chairman Gus Hall in 1996 about the Trumka/Sweeney/Chavez-Thompson takeover.
One condition of the AFL-CIO merger of 1955 was that outright Communists be purged from CIO unions. The AFL-CIO in 1957 instituted a rule that required any union official invoking his Fifth Amendment right (to avoid incriminating himself before a congressional committee) to be removed from his position. But when Richard Trumka twice invoked his Fifth Amendment right in a case involving a corruption and money-laundering scandal during the late 1990s, the response by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney was to purge the rule instead of the rule-breaker Trumka.