Democratic Socialist Labor Commission
Democratic Socialist Labor Commission (formerly Democratic Socialists of America Labor Commission) is a body of DSAers active in the labor movement, whether as union members and stewards, union staff, workers center activists, union officers, labor journalists, union retirees, students in labor solidarity groups, labor-oriented intellectuals, or in any other kind of role in the movement.
The DSLC was formed in fulfillment of a priority resolution adopted at the 2017 DSA National Convention. The resolution mandates the creation of the commission in order to help foster the growth of chapter-based labor working groups. With a growing network of local labor working groups working in coordination via the DSLC, DSA can better support a rank and file labor movement. The DSLC can provide a central node of labor-related organizing resources, advise the NPC on matters relating to labor, build channels within DSA for labor activist networking and discussions, develop resources to tackle the challenges faced by socialists in their workplaces, and ultimately strengthen an intersectional, worker-led struggle.
Structure of DSLC
In 2019 the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission is headed by a nine-person elected Steering Committee. Members of the current Steering Committee are:
- Francisco Cendejas, Los Angeles, union staffer representing healthcare workers
- Spencer Cox, Seattle, unrepresented labor activist in the private logistics industry
- JP Kaderbek, Chicago, rank-and-file union member in the private sector
- Marsha Niemeijer, New York City, union staffer representing healthcare workers
- John Pearson, East Bay, rank-and-file union member in public sector healthcare
- Paul Prescod, Philadelphia, rank-and-file union member in public education
- Meredith Schafer, Metro DC & Northern Virginia, union researcher in building trades and transportation
- Kari Thompson, Pittsburgh, union staffer representing workers in Labor and Education
- Annabel Vera, Sacramento, rank-and-file union member in the public sector
At this time, the DSLC is further organized into five subcommittees: Education; Leadership Development; Mapping; Organizing the Unorganized; and Communications.
1990 Labor Commission meeting
More than fifty socialists from levels of the labor movement gathered the weekend before May Day at the 4-H conference center in Chevy Chase, Maryland near Washington D.C.
By Sunday, the group had resolved to rebuild DSA's Labor Commission through an improved publication, local labor groups in half a dozen cities, a national steering committee, an effort to add some life to DSA's American Solidarity Campaign, and plans for a larger Labor Commission meeting next year.
Jack Metzgar of the Midwest Center for Labor Research and Roberta Lynch from Illinois American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 led the discussion on domestic strategies.
Paul Garver and Don Stillman spoke about labor strategies for the new international economy. Stillman, the Director of International Affairs for the United Automobile Workers, recounted some of the successful work that had beendone in campaigns like the one to free Moses Mayekiso, led by the UAW.
Stanley Gacek, the director of international affairs for the United Food and Commercial Workers told the story of the successful multinational union campaign through the IUF (the food workers international secretariat) that forced Coca- Cola to bargain with workers in Guatemala.
Mark Levinson, a member of DSA's National Political Committee, raised a question about the sensitivity of using trade policy to enforce labor rights in Third World countries.
Jo-Ann Mort, the Communications Director of ACTWU pointed out that Japanese firms are opening up lots of low-wage, high-tech shops, particularly in the South.
Joe Uehlein of the AFL-CIO's Industrial Union Department talked about the corporate campaign strategy to move labor struggles "beyond the picket line."
Timothy Sears of the Carpenters Union and a leader of the DSA Labor Commission reviewed some of the experiences of the Washington, D.C. labor group in supporting the Eastern strikers by raising money and building picket line support.
Schippani was designated the convener.
The Commission also adopted a plan of action for the upcoming year, including activity around antiscab legislation and health care and the development of local Labor Commissions in several cities across the country.
"The Struggle for Justice and Equality"
In 1990, George Kourpias, president, International Association of Machinists, Stanley Hill, executive director AFSCME district Council 37 and Penny Schantz, president Santa Cruz Central Labor Council was a contributor to a Democratic Socialists of America Labor Commission pamphlet "The Struggle for Justice and Equality".