National Labor Federation
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|Cults of personality|
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|Opiates for the masses|
The National Labor Federation (NATLFED) is an American Communist group (accused of, but which ardently denies, being a cult) started in 1972 and led by Gino Perente (who is now deceased). Contrary to what its name may suggest, NATLFED is not a labor union. NATLFED continues to exist but it is unknown to what degree or how their leadership structure has changed considering their leader is no longer around and they don't appear to have a website.
NATLFED operated by setting up front groups with names like the "Eastern Farm Workers Association" posing as legitimate charities helping the poor in the area, who would set up in rented storefronts, often in towns otherwise unknown for any leftist activity (e.g. Medford, Oregon and Bellport, New York), and begin collecting donations to supposedly provide clothing, food, heating oil, free legal aid, and so on to poor people such as immigrant farmworkers in the area. NATLFED also set up other front groups such as the "Womens Press Collective" and published several cheaply-printed newspapers and magazines pretending to be affiliated with, or to "commemorate", established leftist groups not associated with NATLFED like the Black Panthers, and distributed these to attract sympathizers with other leftist groups into NATLFED.
These fronts attracted idealistic volunteers, who were then recruited into the National Labor Federation. Recruits were fed a line that armed leftist revolution was imminent in the United States. Those buying it and expressing enthusiasm were told they could get in on the ground floor by joining a secret cadre called the Communist Party (Provisional), and whisked off to NATLFED headquarters in New York where they were forced to cut off contact with their families, live communally with other NATLFED cadre, listen to taped speeches by Gino Perente, and work 16-18 hours a day raising money for NATLFED for no pay.
Controversy over the group erupted in the late 1980s when it was learned that NATLFED had taken over production of Invest Yourself, a formerly mainstream periodical guidebook of volunteer opportunities, and stacked the content with NATLFED front groups. NATLFED hit the news again in 1996 when New York City police raided NATLFED headquarters and found a large cache of automatic rifles. Ex-members of the cult said in response to the media reports that the weapons were used as props to impress new recruits and convince them armed revolution was imminent.