An excerpt from Mass Movement Labor Strategy for DSA. A position paper of the Collective Power Network of DSA. Aug. 26, 2020. A viewpoint.
Edited for length.
Intro: To drive the socialist movement deep into workplaces across the country, DSA needs an ambitious approach to labor organizing that taps the potential of our 70k-strong membership. In this strategy guide, Collective Power Network presents our mass movement labor strategy for DSA…
An excerpt from Mass Movement Labor Strategy for DSA.
For Organizing Where We’re At,
Against Substituting Agitation for Struggle
We will never gain credibility by leading our coworkers into losing battles, no matter how righteous they are. It’s often alleged that the primary barrier standing in the way of victory for the US left is an uneven development of working-class consciousness. Based on this assumption, agitation becomes prioritized over any other organizing goals. Organizing campaigns are chosen based on their agitational potential, but not their potential for material gain. But leading our coworkers into unpopular or infeasible campaigns for the sake of consciousness-raising, rebellion, or theoretical purity objectifies workers by treating their lives like political experiments. While it’s true that unionization is not always immediately feasible as an organizing goal, worker agitation is not an end unto itself. If anything, agitation with no plan for success is even more alienating.
For Fighting to Win
We support a labor strategy that empowers our members to engage in long-term organizing efforts at their workplaces with the primary intent to win material victories by leveraging majoritarian political power. If we intend on making DSA an organization of the working class, we have to build organizational credibility. The best way to do this is to win. To gain credibility for DSA as a vector for working class politics, we have to rebuild the labor movement from the ground up with sustainable, democratic structures that masses of workers can participate in and materially benefit from.
Functionally, this means running quality DSA campaigns in our workplaces. Quality campaigns are properly planned, resourced, and executed. This doesn’t mean that DSA should try to be a union. But DSA must aim to be a mass working class weapon against capital, and at times revolutionary work looks like bread-and-butter workplace organizing. DSA-supported unionization drives are impressive examples of our ability to enact working class politics. Other campaigns like the Restaurant Organizing Project are not premised on winning union recognition or collective bargaining agreements, but they still set out to win life-altering concessions from bosses through collective worker action.
For Organizing the South
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For a detailed view of labor history see