Labor Strategy and the DSLC
Labor strategy and the DSLC

Authors: Andrew Porter, Marsha Niemeijer, Natalie Midiri, Jane Slaughter, JP Kaderbek, Abby Agriesti, Jonah Furman

Whereas working people, the vast majority of society, have in their workplaces the structural power to attack capitalists’ profits and an interest in replacing capitalism with socialism. Organizing in and with the labor movement is therefore necessary to abolish capitalism.

Whereas DSA created the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission to lead organizing work nationally within the labor movement. Since the last convention the DSLC has worked hard to improve our organizing capacity, but the DSLC’s limited resources have been a barrier and it needs more resources and political direction to better accomplish its work.

Therefore be it resolved that the DSLC will focus on pursuing the rank and file strategy. The rank-and-file strategy argues that socialists’ central focus should be on identifying and developing a layer of rank and file leaders who can organize in the workplace on a day-to-day basis. This day-to-day organizing plays a crucial role in creating workers’ sense of being part of something bigger — not just a union, but a working class — that is capable of fighting, winning, and ultimately ruling.

Therefore, the DSLC will continue to create general educational materials for DSA. Teaching people about the labor movement is a critical part of the DSLC’s mission. We need to educate members about the connection between the labor movement and the socialist movement. Our members need to understand how today’s labor movement functions, including its constraints as well as its possibilities.

Therefore, the DSLC will create materials explaining the rank and file strategy and how members can participate. One existing example is the “Why Socialists Should Become Teachers” pamphlet. The DSLC will create materials arguing for socialists to take jobs in different union workplaces, a pamphlet on how to start a union in a non-union workplace, and reportbacks from members who do this work.

Therefore the DSLC will create a Speakers Bureau to educate DSA members. The DSLC will find speakers who are knowledgeable and make it easy for chapters to connect with them. The goal will be to have speakers throughout the country so travel costs will be minimal. Chapters can apply to the DSLC to help with travel costs if they are hosting a traveling speaker.

Therefore: The DSLC will create committees or discussion groups based on people’s jobs. This will allow members to share experiences and ideas, with the goal of joint action in the future.

Therefore the national organization will help the DSLC with labor mapping. National will change its intake membership form to ask about people’s job and union connection. National will also conduct a survey of current members.

Therefore the DSLC will encourage chapters to support strikes and will produce a pamphlet about best practices for doing so. Strike support can build connections between workers and educate our members about unions.

Therefore, the DSLC will make use of Labor Notes’ organizing training. These trainings will allow our members to make connections with other workers and develop the skills needed to organize. The DSLC will help chapter labor committees fundraise to send members to the April 2020 Labor Notes Conference and to participate in Labor Notes activities such as local Troublemakers Schools.

Therefore, the DSLC will help chapters create Jobs Programs where members are mentored and supported. First, the DSLC will help chapters survey their area and determine the strategic sectors in their area where multiple members could get jobs. Second, the DSLC will train chapters on how to support members who are joining those sectors and provide training on how experienced workers can support new workers. Third, the DSLC will facilitate national communication and where possible coordination of members working in the same “industry” (e.g., K-12 schools). New York City DSA has begun such a jobs program that other chapters could consult as a possible model.

Therefore DSA will increase the resources available for the DSLC. The DSLC shall have a permanent staff person to aid in its work within 4 months of the convention. The staffer will work on building labor branches and labor working groups, help build a national/regional communications structure, and provide guidance & resources to labor branches/working groups about projects they can undertake, including M4A, Bernie, promoting r&f jobs, and educational events. Additionally the DSLC and the NPC will create a plan within 6 months for how to sustainably hire more staff to do labor work.

Budget implications: One staff person, part of the DSLC budget for travel expenses,

Organizational considerations: Will take staff and NPC time for personnel development.

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