By Jamie Partridge, secretary PDX DSA Labor
For years now, the Portland DSA Labor group has sponsored Socialist Job Fairs, about every six months. Up to fifty socialists, half DSA members and half we are just meeting for the first time, show up to connect with about fifteen workplace organizers, looking for the right job. A job organizing with other socialists: to form a union or energize an existing union.
We manage to place about ten participants each time. At organized companies like UPS, Hyatt Hotel, City of Portland, Maletus Beverage, US Postal Service, Burgerville. etc. At unionizing companies like Starbucks and Amazon. And of those ten, some don’t stick around.
Now we are launching a Socialist Workers Support Group, to provide regular mentoring, group support and workplace organizer training and political education about socialists in unions.
In previous eras socialists were often respected workplace leaders. These radicals helped organize workers into a collective force that went beyond workplace fights and into the political arena. That is much less common today. The left often finds itself on the outside looking in when workplace struggle erupts. Socialists are more likely to be organizing strike support than leading strikes.
This divide has weakened both workers’ movements and the left. The socialist movement is stronger when tied to workers’ movements, and vice versa. Rebuilding the link between them is key to revitalizing both, and to keeping our movement grounded in the reality of workers’ lives.
Socialists should root themselves in the labor union movement. Not as supporters from afar or paid staff, but as rank-and-file workers. Not as saviors with all the answers, but as organizers for what Marx called the “self-emancipation of the working class.”
Consider the advantages of a union job that matches your talents, and of choosing one together with fellow DSAers. The pay is decent, and the work itself may be fulfilling, too. All our political work isn’t shunted off to nights and weekends; you can be talking with your co-workers every day. There’s no mismatch between your political life and what you do to keep body and soul together.
Find us at https://tinyurl.com/pdxdsalabor