All candidate statements for the DSLC Steering Committee candidates are provided below, in alphabetical order.
Hey all, I’m running for a position on the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission. Here’s my candidate statement.
I’ve been a socialist for over four decades and a member of DSA since the summer of 2018. I’m currently a member of the steering committee of the Chicago Labor Branch.
My work life has largely revolved different sections of the freight and logistics including for such major employers as A.P.A Transport, Yellow Freight, and United Parcel Service (UPS). I worked for nearly a decade at UPS between its Watertown, Mass. and Chicago, Illinois hubs. My final year at UPS, I worked as a package car driver in Chicago’s Loop. I’ve worked for the last decade and half at a small ‘last mile’ delivery company.
My journalism and books reflect the importance I place on key issues that I believe that the labor movement faces in the United States: U.S. imperialism, racism, reforming the Teamsters, organizing the logistics industry, and fighting the far right.
My writings are available at Jacobin, In These Times, and the International Socialist Review. My book The Package King: A Rank and File History of UPS will be published this spring by Haymarket Books. My two other books Vietnam: The last War the U.S. Lost and People Wasn’t Made to Burn: A True Story of Race Murder, and Justice in Chicago are also published by Haymarket.
I’ve been active in a wide variety of activities in and around the labor movement, including organizing a unionat a small restaurant chain in the mid-1980s, strike support for striking Latino drywallers in in San Diego in 1992, solidarity with striking UPS workers in 1997, and during the Iraq War I helped found Chicago Labor against the War. I was an activist in Teamster 705 in Chicago for nearly a decade.
I think education and debate are necessary for DSA and socialists in the labor movement. The reading lists I compiled for the Midwest Socialists include, the Rank and File Strategy and the Auto Industry. I believe that developing a realistic and practical perspectives for DSA is important. While we passed many labor-related resolutions at the 2019 convention, I found many of them more aspirational than practical. My perspectives on DSA and UPS, I hope can ground these resolutions in the reality of one important U.S. workplace
I have also not shied away from criticism of the direction of some of the reform currents in the U.S. labor movement, especially, Teamsters for a Democratic Union. My views on that are available here. I believe that we are in a transition era for the U.S. Left and many of the institutions and ideas that are entrenched deserve to be examined with fresh eyes.
The next few years will present many challenges to us, including the prospects for war, resurgent far right nationalism, and a new recession, all of which could up end politics and the small gains we have made during the last few years.
I’ll end by saying that DSA should be in the lead in organizing a political revolution in the U.S. trade unions in this country—one of the preconditions for organizing the unorganized—and laying the foundation for a popular labor party.
Thanks for your time.
I have decades of experience in community and labor organizing. For several years I was the director of the Montana Community Labor Alliance, an active coalition of people with disabilities, Native Americans, churches, and unions, among others. I was then hired by UNITE HERE! Local 427/23 as an organizer and union representative. Local 427/23 represented and organized low-wage workers in hotels, food service, airline catering and healthcare in Montana, Idaho and Utah. I was elected as leader of Local 427/23 for 8 years. I was also elected President of the Missoula Area Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO (MACLC) for 11 years.
My union experience has always centered around organizing rank-and-file workers to build their power for social and economic justice. In addition to doing the day-in day-out grievance and arbitration handling, contract negotiating, employer research and union administration work, I focused my efforts on committee-building within each workplace and mentored their leaders. Grievances and bargaining were always done with workers who directed our decisions. We organized many campaigns with community allies to fight against unfair labor practices, short-staffing, low wages, as well as two community benefits coalitions to secure public benefits for public subsidies of private developments. I was also active in organizing workers to get involved with political action on the local, state and national levels, including opposing Right-to-Work-for-Less and subminimum wage for tipped employees laws, and supporting a ballot initiative to raise and index Montana’s minimum wage.
With the MACLC my work emphasized building community coalitions, worker engagement in politics, training organizers, unconventional organizing of low-wage workers, and building a militant and strong local labor movement. We were successful in reviving the organization which we were then able to create a powerful health care insurance change coalition and train many workers to be organizers, including two that are currently on staff with the California Nurses Association and the Washington State Education Association. Our efforts also succeeded in creating a local restaurant workers’ council and putting on an annual Labor Film Festival.
My priorities on the DSLC Steering committee will be:
- To organize around opportunities to build rank-and-file power in union organizations. This may include supporting democratic reform movements, strategically training rank-and-file workers, and public advocacy.
- To train workers to be volunteer organizers, whether within or outside of unions.
- To facilitate building community-labor coalitions around common interests and issues.
- To encourage and support non-traditional labor organizations.
- To organize the AFL-CIO to begin the process to research, plan and train for local, regional and eventually national general strikes.
I expect to learn a lot if I am elected to the Steering Committee. I look forward to doing so and to work to lay the foundation for the overturning of neoliberal capitalism through democratic socialism. Thanks for your consideration.
I believe that the time for us to rebuild the Labor Movement’s power is now and the point of our organizing should be to win. We cannot waste our energy on excuses, shortcuts, and empty rhetoric. Instead, our best path forward is to foster militant unionism and ambitious organizing efforts through the practice of mass politics. Consequently, I’m running for the DSLC Steering Committee to strengthen the bonds between socialist labor organizers and the larger Labor Movement.
I’m an incoming member of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild Local 32035 and I work at the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) as a Data Specialist for AFA’s campaign to organize Delta flight attendants. I’m also involved with Metro DC DSA’s Labor Working Group, where I helped with strike support for striking ATU transit workers and led efforts to improve the Working Group’s public-facing communications channels. I’m also helping to plan a statewide DSA campaign against Right to Work and other Jim Crow Era labor laws in Virginia.
As a member of the DSLC Steering Committee, I hope to use my position to assist DSA members who are interested in becoming flight attendants and active rank-and-file union members. But I also want to do what I can to help DSA members who want to become labor union staffers or engage in labor organizing as volunteers. More generally, I believe the DSLC should take an inclusive approach to these types of strategic questions, as long as the approach in question is directed at raising collective expectations for working class people through our proactive organizing work.
I’m Robert Cuffy, a member of the Organizing Committee is the DSA NYC Afrosocialist Caucus and a member of the Nyc Labor Branch. I am also a 11 year rank and file member of Social Services Employees Union Local 371, a DC 37 Union. Within Afrosoc and the Labor Branch my emphasis has been on political education and united front work and I hope to bring these points of emphasis to the DSLC. I have brought this perspective to life within Afrosoc insofar as I have helped to create the syllabus for as well as host the reading group on Reparations held by Afrosoc in 2019 and was an organizer of the forum for Justice for Rodney Reed as well as co-organizer of the Rally to free Rodney Reed on his birthday.
As a member of the NYC Labor Branch I have worked with other DSA members of DC 37 to form an informal caucus of progressives within the union and most recently we confronted the union about the undemocratic manner in which the union handles political endorsements through several appointed bodies instead of through direct participation or polling of the membership.
Political education is especially needed for the DSLC so the DSA can put forward a labor strategy which reflects the growing militancy of the American working class and give our own meaning for the oft repeated phrase “rank and file strategy.” By encouraging studies of the labor movement and labor strategy this can be accomplished but it needs to be paired with meaningful participation in the labor movement to test the validity of these ideas.
This is why we need to emphasize the united front approach towards labor work where we can maintain our independence as socialists while working in tandem with others in the union common workplace grievances as well has highlighting struggles of working class and especially oppressed peoples beyond the work place which are crying out for labor solidarity. This united front work affords is the opportunity to draw in a wider layer of union members beyond the activist milieu by fighting with allies who don’t necessarily share our politics but who will give our ideas a fair try if we can be seen as allies in the same struggle.
My name is Damiana and I am running to be on the DSLC because I believe it is crucial for DSA to have strong ties with labor and labor organizing. To ensure this, I hope to establish a labor branch or working group in every chapter, expand labor organizing trainings nationwide, and improve national communications between the DSLC and its members as well as between regional chapters.
As a socialist organization, it is key that we organize the working class. Without working class organization we will never realize any long term goals — not to mention socialism — in the US. A natural place to start that organizing is in labor. However, not every DSA chapter has a labor branch or working group. Having a labor chapter and doing effective labor organizing is necessary to bolster our work nationally. If every chapter engaged in labor organizing, not only would DSA have stronger ties of solidarity with unions but the organization could position itself to push labor further left.
Training is key to effective organizing. But organizing a labor training can be a formidable task. DSA chapters can benefit (and have already) from exchanging notes and training materials with each other. With the help of DSLC, labor organizers can travel to chapters within their region to host trainings and teach other organizers to train. This will help us become better organizers, critique ourselves as we work, help new labor branches get started, and create a more cohesive unit of labor activists.
It follows that this vision would necessitate increased communications between DSLC members and DSA chapters. Understandably, our first DSLC was not the greatest at reaching out to chapters. I hope we can change this the second time around. Increased communications between the DSLC and its members can be updated for members about the work we are doing and future plans. Communications between chapters can be facilitated by the DSLC by helping to coordinate regional trainings, phone calls, material sharing, and organizing tactics.
I hope you share this vision an organized national group of trained socialist labor activists that will be both an ally and agitator of labor across the United States.
My name is Alec Desbordes, I am born from an American mother and a French father in the rural Jura mountains of eastern France, overlooking Switzerland. I moved to the United States to attend the Industrial and Labor Relations School at Cornell University in upstate New York. There, I studied the fundamentals of labor law, history and economic theory. I worked as a cook in a campus cafeteria where full-time workers were unionized with UAW local 2300 but part-time workers like myself were excluded from membership. We did the same work, on the same assembly line, for a fraction of the pay and no benefits. I experienced first hand the injustices and division caused by a tiered workforce.
I moved to New Orleans, Louisiana where I started organizing as a server in a French Quarter restaurant. The workforce was angered by the lack of employee meals, leaving us hungry during long and exhausting shifts. Our campaign escalated to a full confrontation with management involving a majority petition, a march on the boss, a public action during a busy shift and the successful settlement of an Unfair Labor Practice, all without formal union support. I got fired, but the company was nonetheless forced to change its meal policy in all of its restaurants in a significant victory for hundreds of workers. I became an apprentice glazier and a member of the Painter’s Union (IUPAT). I organized apprentices and journeymen to actively participate in contract negotiation for our master agreement. Members gained considerable wage increases in our contract despite initial pessimism from the leadership. I became an organizer with the union in Atlanta, Georgia where I organized workers to be active union members, fought wage theft and misclassification cases, and overcame attempts by the federal government to deregulate our apprenticeship programs.
In New Orleans I served as co-chair of the DSA labor committee. During my tenure we planned and executed outward facing labor events such as a labor movie screening with director Anne Lewis and a comprehensive labor organizer training led by committee members. We solidified the labor organizing skills of our own worker-members by implementing workplace reports and a collective study of Secrets of A Successful Organizer to develop a strong culture where each of our members could be leaders in their own workplaces, despite unionization status. A member reclaimed wages that were stolen by her restaurant while another organized his co-workers in his warehouse to win significant raises. Under my leadership, the labor committee assisted taxi drivers organizing in response to the rise of unregulated competition. Meanwhile I supported a DSA member working in a water treatment plant in Thibodeaux, Louisiana to organize his workplace when management was ignoring dangerous chemical levels in the water distribution system. These many efforts and victories have been raising expectations for workers throughout Southeastern Louisiana.
In the far northeast corner of Los Angeles, where the suburbs meet the Mojave desert, you can find a growing working-class latino population where I grew up. My father grew up in the San Fernando Valley and entered the workforce after he left the Navy, where he still holds his union job at the United States Postal Service, a job that allowed him to provide for a family of four. My mother was only able to attain a middle-school education in her hometown in Mexico and since immigrating to the US has always labored in the informal sector as a housekeeper where she has no benefits, no sick time, no vacation, and is never guaranteed a job the next day. Evaluating these two distinct conditions of employment under capitalism speaks to the task at hand: that we must organize workers across industries, across levels of employment, and in every state.
I joined the Los Angeles chapter of DSA just as United Teachers Los Angeles was preparing to strike in the country’s second-largest school system. It was inspiring to witness the results of months of dedication to support the union by engaging in community outreach and escalating actions. The teachers were not the only workers engaging in militant action. At the time the mental health practitioners of Kaiser in Southern California organized by the National Union of Healthcare Workers and the workers at several large hotels organized by UNITE HERE Local 11 were going through their own turbulent contract negotiations. Walking the picket lines, providing support, and building relationships with the workers during this time influenced how I understood the link between a resurgent Left and Labor. Since joining DSA and because of my experiences I have become a labor organizer with the National Union of Healthcare Workers where I work on external organizing across Southern California. I see myself as one more person attempting to bridge the gaps between the Left and Labor
As the largest socialist organization in the country, the DSLC has not only the potential but a responsibility to develop a strategy for labor that affirms our position as workers with the power to change our conditions. Like so many things that strategy will have to come through struggle at both the level of our national organization and in our local labor formations.
Independent for the DSLC Steering Committee
I am an airport worker and a union shop steward. I chair Denver DSA’s labor branch and sit on our chapter’s steering committee.
I also work in a big industrial kitchen for United Airlines. We make and transport the meals served on planes. My coworkers are mostly women, people of color, and immigrants. In fact, we are the heart of a small community of Pacific Islanders. United intentionally hires hundreds of workers from poor families in Micronesia, Palau, the Marshall Islands, and Guam. Once a year they get to fly home standby for free. In the meantime, the bosses treat us like colonial labor.
Three years ago, I was so sick I could not walk. Those heavy metal carts you see flight attendants bringing down the aisle? My job was to push them around the building ten to twelve hours a day on mandatory overtime. A pain had been growing in my stomach for months. One day, I finally keeled over at work. I had to drive myself to a clinic. They checked me out and prescribed medicine. But on $11.50 an hour, I could not afford company insurance. When the bill came, I walked to my car, sat down, and sobbed. I worked for United Airlines, and I could not see a doctor without going into debt.
I was not the only one. In five United kitchens around the country, we started recruiting leaders in secret from every department and shift. When we were ready, we signed up 80 percent of our 3,000 coworkers for the union in just four days. We fought through an anti-worker Trump administration and won our election. Just two months ago, we joined 10,000 other airline caterers in a vote to strike every major U.S. airport when released.
This is the worker power that radicals talk about. To win Medicare for All or a Green New Deal, we need militant organizations that can stop planes from flying, schools from opening, and hospitals from running. The left needs labor. But labor also needs the left. Unions in America today are a shadow of their former glory. We will never achieve socialism in our lifetimes if we do not revive labor’s left wing.
DSA has a historic opportunity to support, join, and lead new struggles to organize the unorganized and jumpstart weak, bureaucratic unions. We must be up to the task. If elected, I will work with others to transform the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission from a distant mouthpiece into an effective organizing body. That will include launching a national training program that can sustain rank-and-file organizing, growing labor branches in every chapter, and building deep regional organization.
It is my honor to be running with the endorsements of Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Santa Fe DSA, as well as Auraria YDSA. For more about my platform, please visit my campaign website at https://jakedslc.work/.
Greetings Comrades! My name is Anthony and I am from the Lehigh Valley Chapter of DSA and I am running on the Bread & Roses slate for DSLC.
My labor experience is born in the rank and file of BCTGM. I started as an electro-mechanical technician in a bakery and a candy factory. My first experience leading workers was as a strike captain, and leading a social media campaign in which our boycott reached hundreds of thousands of people. This experience vaulted me into a steward position in which I lead my co-workers in a victory against a raiding labor organization in two different plants, all while building a contact campaign which ended in revolutionary changes in high performance bakery contracts and created a blueprint for other locals to follow.
I was pulled from the shop by the International to run communication support at a pension rally with over 15,000 union members and retirees in Ohio. Shortly after I lead retirees, community orgs, and members in action against the board of directors of Mondelez-Nabisco in our “Hands off our pension” campaign. I also participated in many new organizing campaigns, recently serving as the lead organizer. All of this experience was as a rank and file mechanic and I learned that organizing to build real worker power was the center of the labor movement.
Currently I am an organizer with the largest healthcare union in Pennsylvania and have the honor of guiding workers in how to lead themselves into struggle and win. We just recently ratified a contract with the toughest employer in our union and it was done by the tough organizing that goes into teaching the workers how much power they have and how to use it.
I hope to focus my efforts as a member of the DSLC on developing a program that supports smaller chapters in their efforts to form robust labor groups able to respond to their community’s needs. I plan on forming a support plan which we can train organizers in every aspect from the initial conversation to the election. I also plan on helping to coordinate national and local labor solidarity campaigns, supporting the Rank and File Strategy, and organizing the unorganized.
- Labor and political activist for over 25 years
- TWU Local 100 activist (now retired)
- Graduate of the Local 100 Shop Steward training course.
- December 2005 work site strike captain during the NYC Transit Strike of that year
- Former Elected Shop Vice Chair
- Member of New York States Working Families Party
- Former member of the original Taxi Workers union. Former member of the American Postal Workers Union.
- Frequent contributor on labor and other issues to “The People’s World” newspaper. See for instance, http://www.peoplesworld.org/article/the-decline-and-fall-of-the-nyc-taxi-industry/
Michael Ifeoma E.
I’m a restaurant worker and organizer in New Orleans. I became a socialist through my experience organizing a union with my coworkers, for almost a year, at a popular wine bar. We got to 75% strong but ended up losing the fight — we were green organizers with no institutional support facing off against a high-paid anti-union consulting firm.
I went to work as a staff organizer for a small independent union, United Labor Unions, representing service workers in Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana. During this time I was an organizer in the Hospitality Workers Committee (now Alliance), a rank and file membership organization that focuses on issues affecting workers in the tourism industry. We lead marches through the French Quarter to shut down restaurants where bosses had been accused of sexual harassment and ran a public transit campaign that was able to pressure the city to add late-night routes from the French Quarter to a working class Black and Vietnamese suburb that many of New Orleans’ hospitality workers have been displaced to.
Most recently, I worked at a restaurant where we organized shop floor actions around safety concerns — staging 100% walkouts and sickouts when forced to work in unsafe conditions, getting our manager removed and winning my job back after I was fired for stopping management from calling the police on two black regulars.
I’ve served as the co-chair of New Orleans DSA for a year and a half, and am very active in our labor work. Our labor committee functions as a training ground for workers to learn how to organize. We’ve done strike support for UAW members in Mississippi, organized with union teachers to activate workers in their local, helped a member win back stolen wages, and advised a member who organized to win an across-the-board pay raise and improvements in safety at his job.
Most of my organizing has been as a low wage worker in a traditionally unorganized industry in Louisiana, where less than 5% of private sector workers have unions. As working class socialists, we’ve got to prioritize rebuilding a vibrant labor movement across the country — we can’t win in just one city. Organized labor is our greatest weapon in the fight against capitalism, so DSA’s strategy has to involve both recruiting union members to our program and helping our folks engage in militant organizing in their locals, as well as supporting unorganized workers in shop-floor action and unionization campaigns.
Particularly in places where unions are weak like the Deep South, DSA labor formations have real potential to operate as centers of militant worker activity and strengthen their local labor movement, but our chapters need support to get there. If elected to the DSLC I would lean on my experience as a rank-and-file organizer and the leader of a strong DSA chapter to help DSA labor formations across the country (especially in small towns & cities) build our capacity to fight back and win.
Hi comrades, my name is Laura Gabby and I’m a carpenter and rank and file organizer. I’ve been involved in the labor movement for 9 years, first year as an organizer at CIR and 8 years as a member of the Carpenters’ Union. I was lucky to join a local with a history of rank and file activism, and encouraged to get involved in a contract fight by some long-term activists. Four years in, I ran on a rank and file delegate slate that united around maintaining our contract, and got 100% of our 38-member slate elected. We were able to maintain our contract for our terms.
For the past few years I’ve been involved in cross-trade solidarity work in the building trades, protesting the high death rate and unsafe conditions on nonunion job sites, organizing solidarity actions with non-union construction workers, and helping pass safety legislation. I was also involved in a fight against a billionaire developer trying to break the construction unions at Hudson Yards development in Manhattan.
A year and a half ago, I became the first woman elected to the executive board of Local 157, the largest carpenters’ local in the country. I worked with other R&F carpenters on a contract campaign. We’re now forming a rank and file carpenters’ caucus to have a more continuous and highly-organized presence in the union outside elections.
I’ve been an active member of NYC-DSA’s Labor Branch for 3 years, and the chair for a year and a half. I’ve helped roll out NYC-DSA’s rank and file labor work, including: branch presentations, Labor Notes-style trainings, rank and file jobs fair, one-on-ones, industry meetings, general meetings, debates, and educational events. I’ve helped organize labor and strike solidarity actions for GM strikers, NYSNA nurses, government employees, Delta employees, PT’s and OT’s, and striking Spectrum workers. I have gotten fellow construction workers involved in some of these actions. I’ve helped organize labor canvasses for DSA-endorsed electoral candidates. At the national level, I’ve taught the Labor 101 training and connected with DSA labor activists outside NYC.
I’m most interested in developing our rank and file strategy work – deepening our organizing within big industries, bringing more organic workplace leaders into DSA, and bringing more DSA-ers into rank and file union jobs to organize. On the DSLC, I’d like to focus on developing our national industry networks, especially in industries that have received less attention. I’m also interested in seeing the DSLC build out labor solidarity work around the country, drawing on the good examples and lessons from chapters that have done strong strike support work.
I’m running as part of the Bread and Roses slate.
Greetings! My name is Rebecca and I am from the Phoenix Chapter of DSA and am running on the Bread and Roses Slate for DSLC.
My involvement in the labor movement stems from 11 years of active rank and file membership within the Chicago Teachers Union(CTU). As an active member, I attended monthly union meetings, wore red in solidarity every Friday, and most importantly I served on the Professional Problems Committee (PPC) at my school site. The PPC functions as an important tool to enforce the contract and protect member’s workplace rights. Through this role I learned how to advocate for myself, give voice to other members’ ideas, problems and concerns, and work towards bringing concerns of the faculty to administration’s attention on a collective basis. As a CTU member, I also participated in the historic CTU 2012 strike. From this incredible experience I learned how to build an escalation plan, organize side-by-side with community stakeholders, and ultimately experience the collective power of our union.
My involvement within the labor movement is further demonstrated through my role as a Co-Founder and Lead Organizer for Arizona Educators United (AEU)/#RedforEd, a grassroots coalition of teachers, education support professionals, and community members. During the 2018 AEU organizing blitz, I played a vital role as the Actions Coordinator for AEU and successfully helped design an 8-week escalation plan that focused on educator empowerment, political education, community outreach, and building a network of 2,000 volunteer educators in over 1200 school sites across the state of Arizona which ultimately led to a massive 75,000 person march and six-day strike.
If elected to the DSLC, my goals include coordinating labor solidarity and mentoring local labor groups through building tool-kits and training modules, which can be used to enhance union organizing for members, or can serve as a guide for educators, and other workers, who are currently unrepresented to effectively begin organizing efforts in their locals. I will focus on organizing the unorganized, through developing these tools and resources which can assist workers in deepening their understanding of organizing inside, outside, and alongside the union.
I’m a labor organizer born and raised in Philadelphia, although I have also spent time organizing workers in the right to work south. While having followed and supported worker struggles for many years prior, I got my start in the labor movement as an organizer on the Fight for 15 in 2013. During the two years I worked on the campaign, I took hundreds of low wage workers out on strike; engaged workers in boss fights around health and safety, sexual harassment, wage theft, and other issues on the job; built a city-wide organizing committee; and developed political and organizational leadership from among the rank and file. I then went on to help organize the first faculty union at a private university in the south at Duke in 2016. Following this historic victory, I organized grad workers at Duke whose election was indeterminate, but who have since built a strong minority union on campus and who are active in the broader labor movement in Durham and across the state. I then worked to organize home care workers in Philadelphia, before landing in my current role as a digital strategist and organizer with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, where I help find and engage domestic workers online, and move them to take in person action. Outside of my paid work, I am active in Philly DSA’s Labor Branch and Labor for Bernie, along with Dignity, a new worker solidarity center run by Philly Socialists, and I organized the vast majority of community support for the UAW strike at a GM plant outside of Philly.
As socialists, I believe our primary terrain of struggle is the workplace. Community-based, campus-based, and other organizing obviously plays a critical role in advancing a socialist program, but both our analysis of the capitalist system and history shows that organizing workers at the point of production is the greatest method to elevate class consciousness, directly confront capital, and build vibrant popular movements. The decline of an organized and militant labor movement led by socialists is a major reason why we have seen a wholesale attack on conditions for the working class in the U.S. over the past several decades. I believe that DSA is in a unique position to reverse this decline and have greater influence on the labor movement, but we need a plan and a strategy to do so.
The role of the DSLC is to be a well-organized, well-run body that can help each chapter implement the priorities that were passed at the convention. If elected, our slate will help build and grow labor branches, produce and publish a DSA labor organizing manual, and develop night school curriculum for new organizing schools. We will also help build a national network of union members, organize to play a role in the 2021 AFL-CIO election, and hire a DSA Labor staff organizer whose work would focus on helping chapters establish labor formations where they do not currently exist.
I work two jobs. At the first job I work part-time front-of-house at a bar/restaurant. At my other I work full-time as a rank-and-file Teamster serving as a shop steward at one of the largest and wealthiest employers on the South Side of Chicago. Unlike many Teamster locals mine is majority women and people of color and many of us make close to the Chicago minimum wage of $15/hour. Together we fight for basic dignity at work like the right to take care of our mental and physical well-being, and against unjust discipline. I also helped organize a new unit of workers who recently had their right to unionize upheld by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
I’ve been in the DSA for a relatively long time, first joining the Young Democratic Socialists back in 2008. Since 2016 I have been deeply involved in Chicago DSA, serving in branch leadership and on our Executive Committee. Alongside dozens of my comrades we’ve grown Chicago DSA into a large and extremely effective chapter that has not only made headlines, but also re-shaped the political landscape in Chicago. This wasn’t achieved simply by organizing through issues as they arose; it involved bringing serious decisions about our political orientation and collective strategy to the chapter, and winning strong majority support for our perspectives.
I have also served in the leadership the Chicago DSA Labor Branch. Initially we were a small group of less than a dozen labor activists able to do little more than picket adoptions like the one I helped organize in 2017 in support of CWA members on strike at AT&T. From that we have developed into a vibrant Branch, run chiefly by rank-and-file union members, that has taken a leading role in large strike solidarity operations and labor education in our city. Our largest meetings have had close to a hundred attendees.
I’m the only current member of the DSLC steering committee who is running again, and I hope to provide some continuity to the Commission. It has been a challenging two years, and in that time we’ve learned a lot from both successes and missteps. I hope to help us move forward and improve upon what we’ve already accomplished, like our Labor 101 Curriculum and the panels we organized for the Socialism 2019 Conference in Chicago.
For the 2019 DSA Convention I helped co-author Resolution 32, Labor Strategy and the DSLC, better known as “The Rank and File Strategy Resolution.” The supporters for our resolution were extremely politically diverse. What united us was not a list of organizing tasks but a shared political perspective on what the labor movement needs to be revitalized, something learned first hand in our workplaces. It is that political perspective that I want to bring to our socialist labor commission, the idea that the labor movement needs to democratically empower the ranks of the membership, not just manage labor relations and orchestrate PR stunts chiefly through staff from the hall.
My name is K.T. Liberato (he/him). Since 2014, I have been a full-time railroad maintenance and construction worker. In 2017 I was elected president and grievance committeeman of Local 3012 of the BMWED-IBT.
I am a member of Philadelphia DSA and I am running for the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission steering committee as a member of the Bread & Roses caucus.
I joined DSA in August of 2018 and have been active through Labor for Bernie, Philly DSA Bernie organizing, and the Philly Labor Branch. I first entered the socialist movement in 2010. I am a Black worker of predominantly Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Afro-American upbringing with some Cuban roots. I hail from̈The Barrio¨ in North Philadelphia.
Over the course of my life I have worked different kinds of jobs ranging from working in a call center, work in housekeeping at Motel 6, as well as construction, basic maintenance, and teaching history. I come from a family of blue collar, service sector and agricultural workers. which has made me sensitive to the centrality of the labor movement in the cause of dignity and freedom.
I entered the labor movement around 2006. I participated in rallies for single payer health-care and in an immigrant workers’ rights protest in Philadelphia. At Penn State, I was a member of the United Students Against Sweatshops and I organized a campus wide teach-in during the Wisconsin labor fight-back and the struggle against austerity in 2011.
In 2009 I worked as a union organizer with UFCW 1776. I participated in a union organizing drive at a meatpacking company, and an internal mobilization in preparation for a strike at local Philly supermarkets.
As president of my local, I’ve held workshops on the Workplace Democracy Act, Medicare for All, and the Green New Deal. The local now supports all of these policies and has passed a resolution to only support local and state candidates that support these pieces of legislation and pro-union and anti-privatization legislation. Our local, along with the Penn Federation BMWED, has endorsed Bernie Sanders. Our local also endorsed and supported Kendra Brooks for city council. Local 3012 mobilized to support the paid parental leave resolution advanced by members of the federation’s women’s caucus. Lastly, I introduced and mobilized support for a resolution to provide material and financial support for striking UAW workers.
If I am elected to the DSLC, my main interests will include developing a socialist labor education program and educational tools that support efforts to organize the unorganized within unions and R&F workers not in unions; outlining and developing class-struggle campaigns that unite R&F workers, DSA activists, and residents from working-class neighborhoods in struggle; developing a strategy document with analysis of key industries and unions to inform R&F work; recruiting more rank-and-file labor activists, especially Black and Brown workers, to DSA; and developing labor solidarity campaigns (e.g. strike support, union organizing support, labor against the war etc).
I have been a labor movement organizer since 1972, working in manufacturing and service jobs as an “Industrial salt” and then later as a union staffer with International Ladies Garment Workers Union, United Furniture Workers Union, SEIU and finally I finished my union work life as the organizing director at the West Coast Dockers, ILWU. Much of my work has been focused on the important work of organizing immigrant, largely Latinix industrial and service workers in California.
I am a member of San Francisco DSA. I have written many essays about labor that have appeared on Portside, Jacobin In These Times, Organizing Upgrade and the Stansbury Forum. I look forward to shaping DSA policy to meet the needs of the US working class and the social movements.
The growth and success of democratic socialism requires maintaining our existing labor movement and communicating its fundamental optimism in a better way forward to those who have lost touch with unions, politics and activism. As a remote worker for a private technology company (not a Big Tech firm) and one who has experienced struggles with mental illness, family sickness, student loan debt and other issues common in the precarious, cobble-together-freelance-contracts-to-survive 21st century economy, I’m personally interested in such an expansion. Prior to and during the Great Recession, I worked with the Texas AFL-CIO, Texas Legislative Study Group and other organizations to promote sound public policy for Texans. Since 2002, I’ve worked with the Texas Freedom Network to fight the religious right’s efforts to undermine our textbooks and our democracy. I’ve spent recent years researching and writing on various aspects of our tech-obsessed neoliberal era and pursuing other efforts to expand awareness of the possibility of a collective better future, especially for those who don’t look at all like me.
I look forward to serving you should you elect me as a DSLC steering committee member.
I’m a rank-and-file member of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) in Tacoma, WA, a fourth generation waterfront worker on one side and the son of a teacher on the other. I joined DSA in 2017 after the massive protests against the travel bans. Prior to that, I was a national delegate for Bernie Sanders in 2016.
I was elected co-chair of Tacoma DSA’s Labor Working Group in 2017 and shortly after joined our Coordinating Committee as Lead Organizer. Like many DSA members, I’m also involved in the struggle for housing justice, helping found Tacoma Tenants Organizing Committee in the wake of a large scale eviction here in 2018.
Much of my work in my union and in DSA has revolved around member education, including serving on the DSLC Education Subcommittee. I’m a graduate of the University of Washington Tacoma with degrees in US History and Ethnic, Gender & Labor Studies, and bring what I learned there into the workplace and the union hall through my local’s Education Committee.
We build curriculum that’s taught by the members themselves, exploring the history of the ILWU’s founding generation to understand and carry on their unique brand of militant unionism today. Now we’re turning these classes into materials any member of the union can download, print, and read aloud with other members of their local.
That’s what we did with the DSLC Labor 101 workshop and what we should be doing more of now: producing self-guided materials anyone in DSA can get ahold of and use. We can create a well-rounded program that covers all our work: how to start a union, building rank-and-file power, strike strategy, starting a labor working group and more.
In Tacoma DSA we hold workshops called #EverybodyOrganize in partnership with our central labor council. Modeled on Labor Notes’ Secrets curriculum, these workshops are open to union members and unorganized workers alike. While folks from anywhere are welcome to attend, we focus on Tacoma because we’re not just trying to teach skills, but working to establish a community of labor and a culture of organizing within it.
Tacoma is a solid union town with deep roots, but many locals don’t have a layer of seasoned union veterans. Most of us in DSA know unions are valuable advocates for workers’ rights and it’s important to support them as socialists – and many members want to go further, to get a union job or organize their workplace – but it can be hard to get started when you feel like you’re starting from scratch.
That’s why I’m running: so we don’t have to start from scratch. The DSLC can help start a labor working group in every local, further develop our organizing skills, and create education materials any member can pick up and use. We have tremendous potential in this moment. But first we need the resources and infrastructure to do the work. Find me on twitter @zzppzzppzzpp if you want to talk more about the DSLC!
Comrades, my name is Ashley Payne (she/her) and I am honored to be running for the Democratic Socialists Labor Commission from the East Bay chapter with the Bread and Roses slate.
After working in a couple of educational nonprofits where my good intentions to make change in the world and my need for reliable health care were being exploited, I sought out a union job. I have been in this job a little over five years now. I signed up to be a union member immediately. I got active in my union during our 2016 contract campaign, organizing my worksite of 100 members through informational pickets, unity breaks, 1:1s, flyering, meetings, and eventually, our 1100 members engaged in a 10 day strike late October 2016. That strike had very mixed results as do so many strikes. There were two big takeaways that have informed my organizing: 1) It has been the best opportunity to rebuild the union by having many overdue conversations and forcing out old leadership. 2) It demonstrated to the other unions in the county we are militant and serious about making change. The second outcome of our 2016 strike resulted in rebuilding the labor coalition that existed prior to the 2013 contract cycle. We are now organizing across nine unions (4000 members) in our coalition with an eye on our next contract fight in 2022.
In Summer 2017, I was elected shop steward at my site and I was appointed Chief Shop Steward immediately afterward. This past May, I was elected as First Vice President of our chapter. Additionally, I organize on our county’s SEIU 1021 COPE (Committee on Political Education) Committee. Lastly, I am a AFL-CIO Central Labor Council Delegate in Contra Costa County, California.
I joined DSA in January 2017 and have been involved mostly in the Labor Committee (former co-chair ‘18-’19) and Racial Solidarity Committees and national caucuses: AFROSOCialist and Bread and Roses. I am now co-chairing East Bay’s Racial Solidarity Committee and serving as a Steering Committee member for the DSA Growth and Development Committee amidst many other DSA organizing campaigns and projects.
Many people do not yet see the value in a union or can even define what it is. We must change that. We must educate Americans about the labor movement and the gains won by the multiracial working class we take for granted today. We must transform unions, build the activist layer of unions so we can expand the labor movement from the base of our existing unions. The socialist and labor movements are often operating separately from one another without much overlap in membership and therefore, lacking unity of action. Historically, in the US, many of the most militant periods of the labor movement had socialists and communists at the center of these fights guiding movement strategy. We have an opportunity in the midst of a strike wave to bring these two movements together again.
I hope you vote for me and my comrades on the Bread and Roses slate because we have a clear analysis of the present conditions of the US labor movement and the organizing skill to carry out the 2019 DSA Convention resolutions to bring together the socialist and labor movements.
My name is Dennis Prater (he/him). I became an active socialist in opposition to the Iraq War, and in 2017 I joined DSA and became a founding member of Northeast Tennessee DSA. I work as an adjunct instructor, which means teaching part-time for low wages, no benefits, and no job security. In 2012, I became a member of United Campus Workers, Tennessee’s public higher education union for faculty and staff, part of the Communications Workers of America: UCW-CWA Local 3865. I am currently in my first term on the union’s Policy and Campaigns Committee, which serves our statewide local. We have around 2,200 members in Tennessee, and new locals are spreading into other Southeastern Conference schools. Since we do not have payroll dues deduction, we are all too familiar with some of the realities faced by public-sector unions in the post-Janus landscape. Although we are currently prohibited from having a contract by Tennessee state law, UCW has won victories, including blocking Governor Bill Haslam’s scheme to privatize public facilities jobs. Right now in my workplace, I am part of a campaign to raise pay for adjuncts through which, by mobilizing public sentiment, we recently won small raises for some categories of adjuncts – raises that an editorial in our local paper, taking up the union’s position, called “a good start.” As a next phase of the campaign, I have been conducting interviews with adjuncts as part of a report to decision-makers which we intend to submit in support of our state-level legislation to raise adjunct pay.
I would like to bring the DSLC-SC my perspective as part of the labor movement in a small city with a relatively low union density. While my area does have a Central Labor Council, and there is more union membership here than many might imagine, I can appreciate the differences between my region and the situation of the labor movement as I experienced it during my years in the Boston area. Northeast Tennessee DSA is a small chapter, and while we do not yet have a separately functioning labor formation – a thing I would like to see us develop in the future – for the past several months we have had a “whole worker organizing” segment of our general meeting, which can include work issues or working-class issues such as housing or child care. In the relatively brief time we have been using it, this segment has helped one of our members, a grocery story worker, to band together with his coworkers and get a sexually harassing boss to back off. I believe that a variety of approaches corresponding to the various conditions across the U.S. is the best approach toward rebuilding a fighting labor movement.
My name is Emmanuel (he/him). I was born and raised in a trailer in south Louisiana by way of Costa Rica. I come from an immigrant working class background, my father a butcher, my mother a housekeeper. I lived and went to university in New Orleans, starting 2009, while working in the service industry. As a young socialist at the time I didn’t know what to do with my politics. I was developing a materialist framework from my awesome professors but wasn’t plugged into anything. I then was involved with a unionization effort at a hotel I was working at in New Orleans, from the beginning to the end. I’ve helped lead delegations to change work hours, push for breaks, turn out for actions and rallies. My coworkers and I led a two year fight to win the union and another two years to bring home the contract victory. After the hotel fight I’ve organized on the Mississippi gulf coast, and in Dallas, TX. This past year I’ve been organizing inflight catering workers in a contract fight with a team that includes organizers and rank and file leaders. We’ve done massive turnout in the hundreds, lead a strike vote, organized the largest civil disobedience action in Fort Worth, and continue to make positive changes in the shop.
The key skill I’ve learned is how to develop leadership among the rank and file. If we are not actively making plans to organize people on to our side then our ideals mean nothing. If we are not actively developing our capacity to grow power then we’ll be stuck. Organizing is slow excruciating work, but it is not difficult and we have to trust and believe that masses of workers can do it.
The union has become a real home for me. Politically and also fundamentally. I had always wanted to engage in the struggle but never knew how or what that even meant. All I knew how to do was flip tables, carry trays, saute catfish, sling pizza, and read books and write about them for school. The union taught me to organize, and to learn how to organize also means facing personal walls in order to grow as a person (still gotta long way to go). Through relationship building and a good plan we can win anything as long as we commit to struggle together, and as long as we face our challenges and push each other through them! I’ve been a rank and file worker since 2006-2018 and half way through last year I became a staff organizer where I felt I can develop my organizing more intensely.
I’ve been a member of DSA since late 2017, when I joined the Madison chapter. I’m the Treasurer for our chapter and active in our labor working group.
I’ve been active in the labor movement in one way or another for over a decade. In 2011, I was active in the Act 10 protests against Scott Walker’s draconian bill that stripped rights from union workers in our state – I wrote actively and submitted a chapter for the Monthly Review book “Wisconsin Uprising”. I wrote and cut stories for Labor Radio at our local community radio station for years, getting a good feel for the state of labor and working people through direct interviews for the program.
In my work life, I’m a clerical Teamster in a unit with bus drivers and mechanics. I ran a slate for leadership of our local in the fall of 2019, the first time anyone challenged our officers in 20 years – we narrowly lost, taking 47% of the vote. I’m a union steward and on our bargaining committee while still trying to reform our union. I’ve also been involved in trying to organize a workplace as a rank and file worker – I worked at a co-op grocery in 2013 when we sought to form a union represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1473. We didn’t win that time, but this past year I worked with United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), who built on our efforts and won recognition in the fall. Madison DSA has continued to support workers there, leafletting stores to support their negotiations for a first contract and offering to train their members in organizing events and actions.
I’m running for the DSLC Steering Committee because DSA needs to have a labor body that can help to support our work and develop activists. As I see it, there’s no shortage of tasks for the DSLC – the questions are “which ones?” and “do we have an organization that can accomplish them?” I think our core tasks are going to be to ensure that the DSLC is functioning, with regular calls, meetings, and a useful website; that the DSLC educate our members about the fundamentals of labor organizing to be the most successful we can be; and create public-facing materials directed at bringing people into DSA to make it an important center of a revitalized labor movement.
I am honored to accept the nomination to the Steering Committee of the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission. I believe I would be well-suited to serve on the Commission because it embodies some of my goals for my local community. As an active rank-and-file member of my union, United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers Local 255, and as an interim co-chair of the Central Vermont Chapter of DSA, I hope to channel some of the energy from the Sanders campaign into our imperiled labor movemnt. One of our Chapter’s goals is to form an inter-union labor council in our county, one which might serve as a model for each county in Vermont. To that end, we have invited members of various local unions to meet informally at bars and cafes in our community in order to start a Labor Working Group within our DSA Chapter.
Locally and nationally, DSA can perform a vital role of public education and outreach among the unorganized as well as people who already belong to undemocratic and moribund unions. The public at large need basic, accurate information about trade unionism. Bernie Sanders’s Workplace Democracy Plan would illegalize termination without ‘just cause’, and all unorganized workers, particulary immigrants and refugees, need to learn how they would benefit from such a powerful law. I also think crowd-funding campaigns supporting local causes could be great organizing tools to activate disengaged union members, while educating the unorganized. Moreover, a statewide campaign to pass card-check legislation could help to build inter-union solidarity. In the latter effort, especially, we need to collaborate with our state workers’ center.
Last December, I briefly shared my personal thoughts on the state of the labor movement in Vermont at the AFL-CIO’s annual conference, which I attended although my union is unaffiliated. I said that I believe we have failed, as a labor movement, to organize new shops, especially in workplaces such as banks, credit unions, colleges, grocery stores, food coops, and public media organizations. All of the foregoing organizations could be publicly pressured by members, students, and consumers to accept new unions after majorities sign up, and local DSA chapters need to lead the way. In order to initiate union drives, motivated workers in unorganized shops need to be able to easily contact a list of labor field organizers for guidance. As a member of the Steering Committee of the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission, I would be thrilled to pursue such campaigns locally, while developing national strategies in collaboration with my own union and others. Thank you for your consideration.
I am a writer and teacher, who joined DSA shortly after finishing my PhD in English & Creative Writing in March of 2018, and quickly became immersed in chapter activities and committees. Over the last five months, labor has emerged as our chapter’s central focus. We have become involved in two active labor campaigns, one at a local healthcare facility (which is still not public) and the other at Clermont County Public Library. Both unionization campaigns resulted in lead workers on those campaigns becoming DSA members, and I have played a central organizing role in these campaigns. This past August, workers in the healthcare facility got into a fight with management over off days being taken away, and there was a period of almost two weeks when I spoke nightly with organizers from that facility, strategizing and planning for how we anticipated management might try to divide and intimidate the workers. At the Clermont County Library unionization effort, in response to their request that we attend Clermont County Library Board Meetings in support of the union (and because of how afraid a number of workers were to sign cards due to retaliation), I organized a mobilization of almost 50 people (both in our chapter and beyond), to pack the October board meeting. We made union support buttons for attendees to wear and gave speeches at the board meeting to show the workers that we had their backs. This resulted in 5 more CCPL workers signing cards, and for the organizing committee to invite myself and three other DSA members to host an organizing-strategy session with their co-workers. Over ten CCPL workers attended the session, which resulted in six more cards being signed and one of the workers at that meeting becoming a DSA member.
DSA has grown a great deal in recent years, but much of our membership has come from people joining DSA due to their desire for a community which shares their political worldview. Such recruitment will always be important to DSA, but I firmly believe that the way we ignite an organized working class movement, with the power to force major concessions from capital, is by creating an organization where our members join DSA through their experience of DSA providing them with the support, skills, and resources, to organize for better material conditions in their lives. This past month, I founded our chapter’s first Labor Branch, with the goal of consolidating our disparate organizing campaigns (through worker roundtables), providing recurring organizing trainings for our membership, and building stronger relationships with organized labor formations in our area. I currently work for a national union as a salt at a large fulfillment center in Northern Kentucky.
I am a Chicago Democratic Social of America member. By this letter I seek to introduce myself & request your support to become a member of Democratic Socialist Labor Commission (DLSC) Steering Committee. I’ve been active in the West Cook branch of CDSA leading our brake light clinics since 2018. I have been active in the Anti-Racism working group and the Chicago labor branch. My first union (UFCW) job at 14 years old was as a bagger in Krogers grocery store. Since then I have been a rank and file member of IATSE, SEIU and UAW. In both SEIU and UAW I had been involved in member representation. At SEIU I championed negotiations for approximately 8,000 members securing pension gains , wage increases and sick pay. In the UAW I have been a critic of corruption scandals and weak contracts. Contract negotiations, strikes and direct action are where the rubber meets the road for collective action to empower workers. Also, I have been active in progressive politics for twenty years working on political campaigns throughout the country. My participation in several other civic organizations has allowed me to hone my leadership skills and clarify what I stand for as DSA member. I feel strongly that representation matters. As a DLSC Steering committee member I would bring my experiences as renter, blue collar worker, LGBTQ man and black american to the DSLC . I will lend some much-needed diversity and years of labor experience to conversations that often lack the voices of marginalized people. The DSLC can play a major role in supporting workers everywhere as the vie to organize and take back their union from the corporate focused union leaders. Most importantly, I am a committed democratic socialist. I share DSA values and believe the revolution starts now. Vote Tim Thomas for DSLC Steering Committee.
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