by Xavier Olson
Recently, members of Rochester DSA joined workers and labor organizers from around the country for Inside Organizer School, held at the Workers United Rochester Regional Joint Board on East Avenue. The School was founded in 2017 by longtime labor organizers including Larry Hanley of the Amalgamated Transit Union and Chris Townsend of United Electrical Workers. Its purpose is to provide training in either forming a union at your workplace, or “salting” another workplace. “Salting” is the process of getting hired at a workplace with the goal of forming a union. The Starbucks Workers United campaign, which has now reached over 350 unionized stores, was started by organizers who attended this School.
Over three days, Organizer School attendees participated in sessions that included a history of the American labor movement (and the importance of socialists in that movement), a class on labor law and the National Labor Relations Board, and even a mock anti-union captive audience meeting.
Case studies from successful union drives all over the country were presented, from Ben & Jerry’s in Burlington, Vermont, to university dining halls in Washington, D.C. Closer to home, we heard from student organizers at Cornell University who successfully kicked Starbucks off their campus after Starbucks (illegally) closed three union stores in Ithaca, NY.
The workplace is the battleground of class struggle. Forging strong, democratic, and militant unions is how we build the socialist movement, and these efforts are already showing their effects. We must continue to expand on this front. As one of the leaders of Organizing School said, “The most impactful thing any socialist can do right now is to be a salt.”
All power to the working class!