[Marxism] DSA rank-and-file strategy

John Reimann 1999wildcat at gmail.com
Wed Oct 23 17:50:37 MDT 2019


I knew Dan LaBotz a little bit way back when. I also knew some of the other
people in Solidarity, although I did not know they were in Solidarity at
that time. I was also well familiar with TDU, in which his group played a
key role.

I felt at the time that that they focused too much on the issue of union
democracy to the detriment of fighting the boss. Yes, it's true that they
did play a key role in opposing some Teamster contracts, but as things
evolved the issue of democracy became their central concern. This was
linked, in my opinion, with their failing to sufficiently differentiate
themselves from Ron Carey. I think it was right to support him, but
critically. It was also all connected, in my opinion, with their failure to
raise a clear strategy and program for *how* to win better contracts, *how*
strikes could win. While they might talk about the 1934 Teamsters strike in
Minneapolis, they never tried to apply the lessons to the here in now; it
was simply some inspirational stories from the past.

I knew some Teamsters in a local in Seattle where they voted in a TDU
slate. At the head of that slate was a guy named Bob Hasegawa. I went to an
unofficial meeting (I think it was of TDU, not the local) where they
discussed what was happening in the local after that election. Several
members expressed strong dissatisfaction about the lack of a fighting
leadership from the newly elected officers. I remember clearly how one
member commented that "You (the TDU leadership) are allowing them to
urinate all over our heads."

In the next local election, TDU was voted out.

Indicative of their orientation was the development of Hasegawa, who got
onto the executive board of the King County Labor Council. Anybody who is
at all familiar with how these labor councils operate (I was a delegate to
mine for several years) knows that it would be impossible to be elected to
office on one of them without either (1) a huge shake-up in the entire
labor movement in the area; or (2) playing ball with the bureaucracy. In
Hasegawa's case, it was the latter. From there, he went on to become a
Democratic state senator, where he sits to this day.

Of course, the inheritor of all that history is Labor Notes. Take a look at
the leadership of LN. It's almost entirely union staffers and ex staffers.

I think this history tells you a lot about what DSA is up to.

John Reimann



-- 
*“In politics, abstract terms conceal treachery.” *from "The Black
Jacobins" by C. L. R. James
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