Why Unions Matter

Written by Elaine Bernard, Executive Director Harvard Law School's Labor and Worklife Program and DSA Vice-Chair, this is part of a series created by YDS on democratic socialist perspectives.

In this pamphlet, Elaine Bernard explains why anyone who cares about fairness and democracy should be excited about the labor movement. For democratic socialists, building and maintaining healthy unions is a crucial part of our commitment to economic justice. Bringing democracy into the economy, into the workplace, and into the daily life of society, is at the heart of our political vision.

Unions have always been an important part of how socialists seek to make our economic-justice principles come alive. Working people—gathered together and exploited in the capitalist workplace—are ideally positioned to fight that common exploitation cooperatively by asserting their democratic rights on the job and by advancing working class interests in the political sphere. Since trade unions are the predominant form in which working people join together to increase their own power, any democratic socialist strategy for social change must support the crucial role that organized labor
plays—and can play better—in promoting greater democracy, equality and solidarity.

As young people, we face a future of work. Those entering or about to enter the workforce will encounter the terrible imbalance of power that prevails in our economy. We have a choice: we can either accept the status quo and take our chances as lone individuals or we can fight to make the global economy more accountable to all of us. By joining or organizing unions in our own workplaces, or by working with unions and other workers’ rights advocates to promote what Bernard calls “industrial democracy,” we can reshape our world.

Members of the Young Democratic Socialists often work on our campuses and in our communities to support union efforts. Many YDS members have been active members of their unions, and have gone on to work as officials, union organizers, staff, and as rank and file activists. At a time of almost unbridled corporate domination, working to strengthen the labor movement is needed more than ever.

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published this page in Resources & Materials 2014-03-10 15:56:07 -0400

Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump

February 17, 2017 · $20.00 USD

Location: MayDay Space
Where: 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
When: Friday, February 17th at 6 PM to Sunday, February 19th to 4 PM

Political Context

This Presidents’ Day weekend, the Young Democratic Socialists will gather for our annual winter conference in New York City titled Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump. We did not choose the name lightly. In doing so, we call for leftists to collectively confront Trump and Trumpism at every possible opportunity. When a Trump administration attempts mass deportations of undocumented workers, when it attempts to register Muslims or roll back worker protections, when it attempts to take away reproductive, LGTBQ, civil, or any other rights, then we must militantly resist to prevent such measures.

To succeed, this must be explicitly socialist resistance. With liberalism having repeatedly shown itself incapable of combating the far right, it is now the time for socialists to openly declare our place in building the mass, multi-racial, and working class movement necessary for defeating the Trump administration. In this struggle, millennials will play an outsized role. That is why this conference comes at such a critical time—together we must create spaces for democratic and strategic discussion, spaces to gain organizing skills, and most importantly, spaces to form networks of young radicals for the future struggles ahead. These spaces will only come together if socialists come together. Join us this Presidents Weekend and help ignite the movement to defeat the Trump administration, continue the political revolution, and build the socialist alternative.

Key Deadlines

  • January 8th: Travel Scholarship for Air Travel (for application see below)
  • January 15th: Travel Scholarship for Non-Air Travel (ex: bus, car, train, etc.)
  • February 3rd: Early Bird Registration Ends - Tickets prices go up from $5 to $10
  • February 10th: Free Housing - We have limited free housing. You need to first register, then you will be sent an application for free housing.

Apply for a travel scholarship here! (First Deadline January 8, 2017)

Check out the working program (subject to change)