In January 2022, the Boston chapter of the DSA democratically selected two external campaigns and two internal organizing priorities for 2022. We designed and discussed these priorities in a two-month-long process starting in December 2021.
Defeat the Gig Worker Referendum
The Gig Worker Referendum priority engages in Massachusetts’ politics and supports workers rights. Boston DSA has elected to join the campaign to defeat the industry-sponsored referendum that would classify gig workers as contractors and deprive them of labor law protections.
A “Vote No” victory will mean a significant defeat for corporate “labor flexibility” schemes. Identification and mobilization of gig workers in the campaign and work with union organizing committees will strengthen efforts to unionize that sector and build our ties with an important labor sector.
As workers fight for their rights and better conditions, we have seen wins and losses in 2021 that have generated a momentum which cannot be ignored. Boston DSA has an opportunity to demonstrate and reflect on the value of collective action in workplace struggles across Boston and Massachusetts, and to build collective action into inherent practice.
The Labor Working Group is building a strong rank-and-file jobs program with wide participation from the chapter, including a network of industry groups and a process for connecting members to specific unions and organizing drives (e.g. Amazonians United and the Teamsters in logistics organizing), activating the chapter’s membership to engage in solidarity events and actions (e.g. turnout at picket lines), and building relationships with Boston-area YDSA chapters and the YDSA volunteer organizer for both strike solidarity efforts and recruiting YDSA members to our jobs program.
Through strike support and union solidarity, and the rank-and-file jobs program, we will build a more powerful, militant, democratic labor movement in the greater Boston area, and forge strong organic connections between Boston DSA and the local labor movement.
Building a Culture of Organizing
This priority will help our members develop as socialist organizers by giving everyone the tools necessary to learn, practice, and hone critical organizing skills. Through a solicitation of valuable skills and practices from our membership at a general meeting, Boston DSA has a set of core organizing skills we want all Boston DSA members to learn and use in their organizing, and core organizing practices we want all work groups and committees to implement. The three organizing skills are meeting facilitation, structured one-on-one conversations, and power mapping and the two organizing practices are coalition building and new member onboarding/retention.
As we do this, we will also build a more cohesive culture across our chapter, more effectively integrate new members, and better ensure continued engagement of active members by distributing responsibilities.
Leadership Development & Support
Boston DSA has many leadership positions, and most active members find themselves in one eventually. However, these roles are diffused throughout the chapter, with little formal support or training, leading to insecurity, inefficiency, loss of institutional knowledge–and then burnout, which pushes newer comrades into leadership roles before they feel ready, thus perpetuating the burnout cycle.
Over this next year, working group, committee, and branch chair election cycles will be standardized so that newly elected chairs can have an “orientation” to be a chair, the quarterly mega-meeting with all chairs will be formalized, resources, such as handoff processes and recruiting successors for chairs will be collated for incoming leaders, and key trainings will be held for chapter leaders. The goal of these activities is to provide leaders with the institutional knowledge, administrative skills, and confidence to more effectively carry out (or delegate) their duties.
Efficient administration, a broad dissemination of key skills within the chapter, and reduced burnout should all self-evidently make us more effective. Having large numbers of active members take turns in leadership can combat the formation of a permanent leadership class within the organization, and ensuring leadership remains active when returning to the rank and file prevents the loss of institutional knowledge and culture.