The following proposal was submitted with signatures from 42 Members in Good Standing in order to be considered at the DSA-LA Convention, taking place on July 16th, 2022. A full list of proposals can be found here.


For A Strike Ready DSA-LA

Strike Support Priority Campaign

Co-authors: Will S., Michael L., Paul Z.

Lead Contact: Paul Z. To submit comments and amendments, please email: pzapstudios@gmail.com


Resolution Description

Be it resolved that DSA LA will provide direct support to Starbucks workers who are unionizing or are otherwise involved in workplace organizing by:

  • Organizing actions at unionizing stores and against unjust firings and raising solidarity funds (ala Tacos for Teachers) for fired workers with the Labor, Finance and Fundraising and Mutual Aid Committees
  • Creating outward-facing communications to report on and provide political education about workers’ struggles with the Political Education Committee
  • Helping facilitate connections between organizing baristas locally and nationally through the Solidarity is Brewing campaign and with the support of California DSA

Be it resolved that DSA LA will bring our membership into the labor movement by:

  • Training ourselves in the skills to support workers’ struggles, especially talking to non-socialist workers
  • Holding accessible political education events about the role and function of unions and the history of the US labor movement with the Labor and Political Education Committees
  • Providing tools for members to organize their own workplaces through EWOC and Labor Notes
  • Mapping important local and state contract fights for the coming year(s) to support
  • Recruiting militant baristas and workers interested in supporting these actions to DSA

Timeline

  • August – October
      • Form a Strike Solidarity group and messaging thread for members interested in labor and strike support, including YDSAs and neighboring chapters like OC DSA and DSA Long Beach
      • Identify stores that are unionizing or want to unionize, create connections with the baristas there, and organize strike support
      • Hold a “What is a Union?” political education event as well as a social for members interested in but unfamiliar with labor work
      • Invite members to EWOC trainings to organize their workplaces
      • Identify first group of new leaders to train through one-on-ones
  • November – January
      • Continue to support Starbucks workers as above
      • Map out important local and regional contracts for the coming year (for example UPS, UTLA, and ILWU all are bargaining this year)
      • Hold a political education series about the history of the US labor movement and host another social
      • Help organize a regional Labor Notes Troublemakers School for members interested in unionizing or reforming their union
      • First group of leaders identifies a new group of leaders to train through one-on-ones
  • February – March
    • Using our contract map, reassess if Starbucks is still the most important site of worker organizing at the moment and shift the campaign’s focus as needed
    • Hold another political education series about the history of the US labor movement and host another social
    • The second group of leaders identifies another group of new leaders to train through one-on-ones


Organizational Priorities


As socialists, we know that there are two great classes in our society: a capitalist class who profits from the labor of the working-class that makes the economy turn. These two classes are diametrically opposed so they are in a class war. And as socialists who want to build a truly democratic world, free of exploitation and all oppression, we know the capitalist class must be defeated. Socialists have long recognized that it is only the organized working class that can effectively push back against capitalism. That’s because we can use the greatest power of the working-class, the strike, to withdraw our labor and bring capitalist profits to their knees. That’s why the labor movement is so important to building socialism.


In the 1930s and ‘40s the labor movement was a powerful force in US society that, despite its shortcomings, momentarily secured a more equal society than that which we are confronted by today. Arguably the most decisive factor in the success of this earlier wave of struggle was the support of socialists, and most importantly the presence of socialists in the ranks of labor. Years of red-baiting, union leadership working with capitalists instead of against them, and harsh labor laws have weakened the labor movement to a low-point in US history.


To build a force capable of securing the full fruits of our labor and building a society that serves the working class, the socialist and labor movements must again join forces.


DSA-LA’s labor committee have made significant interventions over the course of the last several years: surveying the membership and creating the labor circles program, mobilizing members in support of local labor struggles at the Jon Donaire plant and Star Garden and contract campaigns for IATSE, UC-AFT, and UAW 2865, and helping to develop a left-labor pole in local politics through electoral campaigns like Prop 15 and Hugo.


Now we enter a new moment in labor, and one with massive potential. After a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York went union, the movement has spread like class-struggle wildfire: over 150 stores in just six months. These stores are in 25 states (and multiple countries), and the demand for new unions is so great that staff organizers have taken on an advisory role while workers take the lead, even as these baristas are battling a ferocious campaign of union-busting and building networks to help each other organize. Nationally, the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission has started the Solidarity is Brewing campaign to help DSA chapters support local Starbucks organizing.


To meet this moment and develop organizers excited by the surging labor movement, the authors of this resolution recommend the above course of action. The authors of this resolution recommend that chapter resources be leveraged to uplift the struggles of workers in LA and beyond and educate and empower DSA members to step into the labor movement themselves.

With regards to DSA LA’s organizational priorities, one of the main goals of this campaign is to create events and organizing spaces where members new to the labor movement can ask questions and be politically developed. We also will be utilizing numerous trainings and materials made available to us through EWOC, Labor Notes and the Solidarity is Brewing campaign. We will work with other DSA chapters in our region, especially DSA Long Beach and OC DSA which both have recently-unionized Starbucks locations, and learn from the successful actions from chapters like Portland who built a robust strike support committee. Crucially, we need to be working with YDSA from the jump to ID Starbucks workers who are receptive to socialism. We will be organizing alongside Workers United and SEIU, the unions that Starbucks workers are joining, but must understand that these campaigns are worker-led, and that’s where their power and our focus lies.

Opportunities to engage new and active members

While many DSA members understand that the labor movement is important and support unions, only a fraction of our membership has had any significant direct experience with organized labor, let alone unionizing. This resolution assumes a hunger in the membership to learn more about and become involved with the labor movement and aims to provide members the experiences and tools to do so. The majority of events should be accessible enough that a new member could show up and leave enthusiastic and better educated about organized labor and with a clear next event to attend to continue their development.


In order to change DSA’s social base we’re going to need to experiment with more intentional recruitment by focusing on a specific section of the working class, in this case militant, rank-and-file Starbucks workers. Talking to non-socialists about socialism is a skill that needs to be developed and methodically practiced. Likewise, by having DSA provide the tools for members and interested rank-and-file workers to organize their workplaces and reform their unions, more workers who have had the experience of direct class conflict will be brought into DSA’s orbit. Both of these groups can attend the regular happy hours to meet other organizing workers and members interested in labor.


As these skills are practiced and developed by a new crop of leaders, DSA will be better equipped to support and recruit during future contract fights and labor support campaigns. That’s why this campaign lays out a rigorous leadership development timeline through one-on-one organizing and contains a wide variety of tasks for members to organize and debrief.




Goals of applicable Committees and Working Groups

Climate Justice Committee

The Green New Deal cannot come to be without the labor movement and when environmental activists and militant labor leaders come together, incredible reforms can be won. The most impressive example is OSHA, and we should teach its history and function to make sure DSA trade unionists can file complaints and stand up for environmental protections at work.

Electoral Committee

Socialists should support class struggle elections, electoral campaigns that organize the working-class independently to fight for our own class interests. Our candidates should use their campaigns and offices to provide political education and agitation, two things that help workers organize. We should work with the Electoral Committee to turn canvassers and campaign volunteers out to picket lines and fundraise, as well as organize and agitate around reforms that increase the bargaining power and protections of workers, especially around the rampant wage theft in the city. We should also ID worker leaders who we can prepare to run for strategic offices.

Healthcare Justice

When most people think of unions and healthcare they immediately think about the medical benefits a contract can provide. But we know that union healthcare is not enough; Medicare for All would increase workers’ bargaining power against the boss by taking health incentives off the table. We should work with the Healthcare Justice committee to raise Medicare for All as a central demand of the labor movement, especially as Starbucks threatens to withdraw gender affirming health benefits from organizing workers.

Housing & Homelessness

The vast majority of Starbucks baristas are renters and it’s no secret that Los Angeles is one of the most unaffordable places in the world for workers to live. We should include the machinations of real estate capitalists in all of our political education about why we need class-struggle unionism and encourage organizing workers we meet to get involved in ETOC to organize their building(s) just as tenants should be encouraged to be involved in EWOC to organize at work.

Immigration Justice

Undocumented workers face especially precarious organizing conditions and there is a long and proud tradition of intertwined immigration and workplace organizing. We should strive to educate our members about the particular dangers undocumented workers face (especially threats of deportation and wage theft) and organize to support any workers whose immigration status is threatened as retaliation from their boss. While Starbucks has historically supported DACA, recently the company threatened to withdraw that support from baristas who unionize.

Labor Committee

The majority of the work of this campaign is deeply intertwined with that of the Labor Committee. By helping DSA members become more involved in the labor movement and by recruiting militant rank-and-file workers we can expand our labor circles. And as more rank-and-file workers see the kind of strike support that DSA can provide, we can lay the groundwork for future relationship building with militant unionists. Additionally, building a strong relationship with Labor Notes will improve our members’ ability to reform their unions from the rank-and-file up.

Mutual Aid Committee

Workers in movement need a huge amount of support and we’ve seen the power of mutual aid to bolster labor actions like with Tacos for Teachers. We would love to work with the Mutual Aid committee to provide direct support to organizing workers on picket lines and fundraising for workers who are unjustly fired.

Political Education

Central to this proposal is a political education piece that will help our members understand why the labor movement is unlike other social movements (as it is capable of challenging the accumulation of capital through work stoppages). Despite being members of a socialist organization, many DSA members want a deeper understanding of class dynamics. The surging labor movement provides an excellent opportunity for DSA-LA to provide this by organizing political education events that situate the movement within a socialist analysis.

Prison Abolition Committee

Like all movements for social progress, the labor movement must reckon with the power of the capitalist state which has, and will continue to, utilize the police and carceral apparatus to undermine efforts to rest power away from the capitalist class. This reckoning is complicated in the labor movement by the presence of organized workers whose jobs depend on the continued existence of these state apparatuses. A socialist analysis of labor struggle as situated within a broader class conflict is therefore critical here. The prison abolition committee can continue to educate our membership on the structural relationship between the police, carceral state, and the capitalist mode of production, as well as continue to build a socialist current within the broader prison abolition movement and develop abolitionist organizing in the labor movement. In particular, we can work together to highlight how police and prisons have been used to crush organized workers throughout US and global history.

NOlympics Working Group

NOlympics has some of the most talented reporters in the chapter and their coverage of the destruction that the Olympics brings is unmatched. We hope that they can help mentor chapter members as new labor reporters and, in turn, those members can help NOlympics research and write about how the Olympics is dangerous to workers, from displacement to wage theft to safety violations.