DSA Libertarian Socialist Caucus endorsement of the “Rank and File Strategy”
Last fall the DSA Libertarian Socialist Caucus laid out our platform for building working class power in the United States with our Dual Power strategy statement. A critical section of this statement is the section “Industrial Democracy” formulated with input from our syndicalist working group:
There already exist models of workplace direct action and of building workers councils within and outside of the current union framework which point to places where workers can reassert control over the means of production. For example, in workplaces where many unions work side by side in a context with many unorganized workers, impromptu committees of rank-and-file workers can coordinate solidarity and direct action that union bureaucracy and labor law is designed to stifle. On the other hand, large and established unions of state workers are often the only organizations presently strong enough to exert serious counter-power in fighting the intensified destruction of the commons. Wildcat strikes by teachers across “right to work” states have finally demonstrated the power of workers over and above our state-sanctioned rights. Rank-and-file dissident movements within highly bureaucratic and oligarchical unions like the Teamsters have fought to take over unions and democratize them so that they will be run by the workers themselves and actually fight for their class interests.”
We want to recognize that organizing the workplace requires multiple different approaches and that one critical strategy for building a radical, socialist labor movement requires that we encourage members of DSA to join or form unions as workers and seek employment in critical industries such as teaching, nursing & healthcare, transport & logistics, service industries, and tech workers. The purpose of this is to encourage and facilitate workers’ demands for militant labor organization, and to agitate for rank and file union democracy inside existing industrial and trade unions. This age old tactic is called salting and has roots in the labor movement going back to the 1800’s and unions once had a history in the United States of being a primary site of organizing by socialists, anarchists and communists until the mid 20th century purges of the red scare forced most radicals out of organized labor. This position is exemplified by the Rank and File strategy articulated by Kim Moody. The Libertarian Socialist Caucus highlights and endorses this as one of our positions to help build democratic radical unions as counter institutions within a larger movement of organizers building dual power.