Enabling DSA to become a more powerful, fighting organization will take a lot of work — but it can be done.
To help get us there, here are eight steps we could take in the next two years:
The DSA National Electoral Committee’s Toward a Mass Working Class Party.
It’s important to turn DSA into a party-like electoral apparatus. We need to identify and run DSA organizers across the country who can use their offices to root class struggle politics in their community.
At the chapter level this means developing a robust program to help chapters build Electoral Committees/Working Groups that can begin to develop short, medium and long-term plans in their chapters for DSA electoral campaigns as well as the skills to recruit and develop candidates and staff for campaigns.
At the national level this means further developing the NEC (National Electoral Committee) fundraising and organizing capacity to support local working groups and a coordinated volunteer program to harness the power of DSA members in chapters who aren’t running electoral campaigns to help make the difference in critical DSA candidate races all over the country.
National staff is crucial to carrying out this work. Electoral work has been woefully understaffed in DSA. The NEC needs electoral-specific staff to both help build national infrastructure and support chapters develop electoral infrastructure to be able to run socialists at all levels of government across the country.
The Democratic Socialist Labor Commission’s Building Worker Power to Win Democratic Socialism: A Labor Strategy for DSA in 2021-2023
DSA needs to make labor a top priority and that the organization should work to:
- Support bottom up efforts to transform the labor movement, including official DSA support for efforts like UAWD, etc.
- “Connect Our Comrades” through labor industry networks.
- Continue organizing in unorganized sectors through efforts like EWOC.
- Fight for transformative labor legislation––continuing to fight for, and build on the success of, our PRO Act campaign and encouraging chapters to run state-level campaigns for public sector bargaining rights and the right to strike, safe staffing legislation, etc.
- Placing a particular focus on organizing among Black and Brown workers.
- Turning DSA into a “Powerhouse of Solidarity” by standing in solidarity with all workers in struggle.
- Encourage DSA members to become rank-and-file union members.
Making this a robust national program means we need effective labor branches in chapters across the country. In our experience chapters are eager to engage in this kind of work, but often lack the experience to map their local terrain and make connections with unions and ongoing labor struggles. Empowering chapters to do this kind of work will require the DSLC to:
- Develop a robust program to train chapters to map out their local labor movement enabling them to construct calendars of expiring union contracts so they can proactively put together solidarity campaigns.
- Coordinate important national labor disputes and proactively plan for nationwide solidarity campaigns.
As with our electoral work, the DSLC must be supported by additional organizing staff dedicated to making these programs happen.
Bread & Roses’s Strengthen DSA From the Bottom Up Through National Matching Funds for Chapters to Hire Staff and Open Offices
DSA Chapters should be built into permanent and visible hubs of community organizing. Hiring chapter staff can dramatically expand chapters’ capacity for serious day to day organizing work, lessen the administrative burden on volunteer leaders, and help us build a durable presence in our communities.
The DSA Growth and Development Committee’s Beyond 100K: Building a Mass Socialist Organization
Bread & Roses members have worked with many DSA members of different tendencies on DSA’s Growth and Development Committee and we are proud to support the Beyond 100K Resolution they drafted. It calls on the organization to continue growing by training people to recruit their co-workers, building YDSA chapters in historically black colleges and universities and community colleges, and recruiting from the broader working class.
Bread & Roses’s Formation of a National Committee for Reparations to Black People
We must build a truly multiracial socialist movement, capable of uniting working people against our common enemies. That will require fighting to win demands that affect all workers, but also for demands that address specific instances of wage theft, housing discrimination, and other sources of oppression.
Bread & Roses’s Strengthening YDSA
The future of the socialist movement depends on recruiting and training lifelong socialists. Young Democratic Socialists of America is a crucial part of this. On historically black colleges and universities and community college campuses, YDSA has recruited working-class and POC organizers. Further, YDSA has established a pipeline for students to get rank-and-file jobs and work to strengthen and democratize the labor movement. The Resolution to Strengthen YDSA would give YDSA leadership a bigger role in decision-making over its budget, more resources for building up the YDSA Mentor program, and more say over YDSA staffing decisions.
Bread & Roses’s constitutional change: Electing DSA’s National Director
DSA’s National Director is an important political leadership position, and it should be treated as such. The National Director is in charge of the day-to-day functioning of the organization and has direct control over DSA’s multi-million budget, dozens of staff, and media presence. That’s why Bread & Roses is supporting a change to the DSA Constitution to elect our National Director at convention every two years.
Winning an election for the Director position from the delegated convention every two years will give the National Director the mandate they need to effectively help lead our organization. Encouraging campaigns for the position will motivate candidates to put forward a compelling vision for our organization.
Ensuring that the National Director has a vote on the NPC will help allow them to lead politically along with other elected leaders, encourage them to participate actively in important debates over the organization’s policies and practices, and increase transparency of their leadership of national organization.
Bread & Roses’s Stipends for NPC Steering Committee Members
The National Political Committee is the highest decision-making body of the organization, and it’s Steering Committee, an elected body of 5 out of the 16 NPC members, takes on the lion’s share of work and day to day decision making.
NPC members work hard to steer our organization, but they’re still largely isolated from chapters and leaders on the ground. Furthermore, since NPC members are unpaid, they effectively work two full time jobs. We must build an organization that ensures working class people are able to lead our movement, rather than relying on a layer of leaders who already have the time and resources to donate. That’s why Bread & Roses supports a resolution to provide stipends of at least $2000 per month to NPC SC Members.