May 7, 2018 statement from the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission:
This week, 53,000 workers at ten University of California (UC) campuses and five UC medical centers across California will strike. The DSLC stands in solidarity with them.
The State of California is the fifth largest economy in the world, and The University of California is the largest employer in the state, so UC negotiations will have a ripple effect, setting standards for workers’ wages and working conditions across California.
This is a historic strike with three unions participating: AFSCME, CNA, and UPTE. The Democratic Socialist Labor Commission supports UC worker militancy and encourages all DSA and YDSA members to support this strike. If you are in California, join the picket lines! If you can’t, share your photos and messages of support on social media.
The UC Regents — a board that includes wealth managers, financiers, and real estate investors — have been imposing a regime of austerity on California’s public higher-ed system for years, raising tuition and privatizing services while the state cuts taxes on billionaires. Now they are going full tilt against workers in the hopes that the forthcoming Janus decision will allow them to attack contracts at every level. The Regents are targeting workers’ retirement, healthcare, wages, and layoff protections. Meanwhile, the Regents are ignoring workers’ demands for sexual harassment protections, ban the box, and protection from ICE raids at work.
Many of the strikers are entry-level service workers (custodians, security guards, groundskeepers) represented by AFSCME 3299, and are disproportionately women, people of color, and immigrants. This strike is historic because workers in higher paid jobs in the UC system, such as nurses represented by CNA, are not allowing their workplaces to be divided and conquered — they are striking in solidarity with some of the lowest paid.
As socialists we believe there is no strong socialist movement without a militant and powerful labor movement. This is an opportunity for DSA to stand in solidarity with striking workers who are uniting for better working conditions. Nearby DSA Chapters are already organizing picket-sign making parties, picket support, and strike education. If you’re in California please find and join a picket line near you.
If you go to your local picket line, make sure to post pictures! If you can’t make it out to a campus, you can still help by sharing your photos and messages of solidarity. Tag @DSA_Labor and @DemSocialists on twitter and support the strikers on social media by using the hashtags #3299Strong and #Strike4Equality.
Tens of thousands of organized UC workers are fighting back against these cuts — and DSA stands with them!
Your DSLC Steering Committee:
“By going on strike and holding fast when state leaders failed to take real action on these demands, they defended a minimum standard of life not just for themselves but all West Virginians. They have also been an inspiration to state employees, and the public they serve, facing similar austerity budgets across the country…”
2. What is the DSLC?
We are a community for DSAers active in the labor movement, whether as union members and stewards, union staff, workers center activists, union officers, labor journalists, union retirees, students in labor solidarity groups, labor-oriented intellectuals, or in any other kind of role in the movement!
Priorities resolution from 2017 DSA national convention (excerpt on labor below)
3. What is a labor branch?
Read an interview with labor activist Bianca Cunningham about how the NYC Labor Branch got started.
4. For more information, contact dslc[at]dsausa.org
Expanding and Deepening DSA National and Local Labor Work
There is no strong socialist movement without a militant and powerful labor movement. DSA recognizes that if it is to become a socialist organization truly rooted in a multi-racial working class, it must expand its work both among unionized workers and among those currently without union representation. This convention urges the national staff and NPC to support the creation of a Democratic Socialist Labor Commission (DSLC) as a necessary structure to foster the birth and growth of chapter-based labor working groups which can support a rank and file movement, provide a central node of labor-related organizing resources, advise the NPC on matters relating to labor, and build channels within DSA for labor activist networking and discussions of the challenges faced by socialists in their workplaces.
Ongoing internal education regarding the importance of collective organizing for worker power (e.g., unions, workers’ centers, community labor groups) in the maintenance of a democratic society will be critical to linking DSA (and YDSA) members effectively to the struggles of the working class. Individual chapters should be free to determine their campaigns according to local relevance, including outward-facing labor education and strike solidarity efforts.
DSA chapter-based labor working groups should strive to strengthen DSA’s ties to rank and file union members and community workers’ centers while also aiding movements to democratize and salt unorganized workplaces, recognizing the limitations imposed by right-to-work legislation. Emphasis must remain on supporting laborers and their campaigns over building ties to unions themselves, as socialism represents workers rather than top-down power. However, DSA may recognize democratic labor unions which empower and effectively activate their rank and file members.
As in all our work, the DLSC and labor branches should emphasize the role of immigrants, people of color, women and LGBTQIA+ and disabled comrades in the workplace and the labor movement. The DLSC will work to dispel the notion that workers ought to be pitted against each other along lines of nationality, race, gender, ability and sexuality, and will prioritize the facilitation of a diverse but unified workers’ movement.
- Part of DSA’s labor work should consist of internal and public political education about the importance of unions and other forms of working class power to a democratic society.
- DSA chapter-based labor working groups should endeavor to increase DSA’s ties to existing unions and workers’ centers while also aiding movements to organize unorganized workplaces.
- DSA is committed to building democratic labor unions that empower and activate their rank and file members. A DSLC supported by national staff and NPC resources (particularly by NPC members active in the labor movement) should help educate DSAers on how to be effective rank and file activists. The Commission should also work to develop resources on how members in unorganized workplaces can increase the collective power of individuals in their workplace, including how best to initiate union drives.
- The DSLC will work to dispel the notion that workers ought to be pitted against each other along lines of nationality, race, gender, ability and sexuality and will prioritize the facilitation of a diverse but united workers’ movement. As in all our work, the DLSC andlabor branches should emphasize the contributions of immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQIA+, and disabled comrades in the workplace and the labor movement, and the deep consonance between labor struggles and other axes of the fight against oppression.
- The DSLC will work to help some of the most marginalized by the labor market: the unemployed. A commitment to full employment through a job guarantee, where anyone willing and able to work can find suitable paid employment, helps to build the labormovement from the bottom up. Without a ‘reserve army of the unemployed’, capitalists are forced to compete for workers, materially improving the lives of all.
- As we fight for socialism and organize our workplaces for democracy on the job, we demand an increase in the minimum wage to $15 in states and municipalities where it is lower than $15 and continue organizing for a living wage in cities where it is at $15. “Alternative” labor campaigns like the Fight for Fifteen are key in building the labor movement outside of traditional shop floor organizing.