Organizing is the act of structuring and strengthening the bonds between people of the working class. Various political parties engage in organizing, as do trade unions.
In organizing, consider these questions for yourselves:
- What kinds of short-term gains can we realistically aim for to teach ourselves how to fight and win and grow our confidence?
- What about long-term goals?
- How do we achieve such?
- What is the relationship between our economic and political aims?
- How does any specific thing we are doing bring us closer to constructing a movement that will produce well-being for all?
Types of action
- Buying resources in bulk and sharing them in a common space. Examples include food, diapers, entertainment, etc.
- Community gardening
- Setting up a fundraiser for strikers
- Sending a flood of false job applications to a company undergoing a strike
- Organizing and participating in rent/utilities/tax strikes. It's a good idea for these strikes to only take effect once a certain large amount of people have agreed to participate. These can even be used to reverse government policy as has happened with the abolition of the Poll Tax in the UK in the early 1990s, although not paying bills in certain cases in unfeasible for factors individual to the circumstances.
- Donating to organizations such as the Communist Party USA, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Party for Socialism and Liberation, or the American Party of Labor
- Buying billboards and Internet ads
- Protesting, for example for better water or road infrastructure, against war, or for boycotting, divesting from, and sanctioning unjust and imperialist regimes
For mutual aid organizing, identify the problems in your community that need addressing. Then find people interested in tackling those problems and figure out ways of getting those needs fulfilled. This is going to involve talking to a lot of people to find out what is going on, who is affected, and who can or wants to help. Call your local churches, community centers, shelters, etc. Services and goods that may be provided through mutual aid groups include those pertaining to:
- Child care
- Food security
- Literacy skills
- Medical/dental/vision care
- Depression and suicide
- Drug use and rehabilitation
- Physical, mental, or sexual abuse
- Prisoner rehabilitation
- Legal advice
- Fire control
- Neighborhood security
A trade union is an association of workers which legally represents and bargains for employees of a certain organization. In a capitalist society, it's important to be in one, especially if your company is particularly exploitative. Unions can help with job protection, working conditions, work safety, scheduling and work times, and preventing wage cuts; with the dues paid often providing a return much more than the upfront cost. Before joining a union, research it and ask its older members especially to see if it's worth joining and paying dues.
Once you're in a union, you'll meet other people in the same industry, and you'll get training in organizing if you want. Let the pros teach you, especially about situations and rules specific to your jurisdiction. Branch meetings are closed to the public, so your bosses are not going to know you're in the union unless they hear you say so.
The general process for unionizing your workplace is:
- Join the union best suited for you by trade with enough members to help you, the more radical the better. If you're part of a radical union, you will see strikes and the whole point of a strike is to not let strike breakers in. The police may come down hard on you when you barricade outside the workplace — your task is to keep the strike going, or else you'll just get fired and someone else will take your job for a lower wage.
- Talk to people about problems in the workplace so you can build a list of complaints and help mobilize people when 3 happens
- Wait for an opportunity where the company messes up, such as everyone getting the payroll late
- Ensure people unionize
- Set amongst yourselves a secret red line, like a wage cut. If your boss crosses it, threaten them of action by the union (oftentimes union representatives or lawyers will do this instead).
Joining a union may be risky, as it is in many places in the United States, where often attempts to do so can get you and your coworkers fired. On the other hand, joining a union reduces risk, as being in one increases your power of appeal in case you get fired; or, being in a union can prevent you from getting fired in the first place.
Understand your rights
Some managers flagrantly violate the law with certain practices, hoping employees will be intimidated, not know better, or not bother to act. However even in places with questionable labor laws like the United States, those practices may be illegal and the law will thusly be enforced if brought up to the relevant authorities and especially with evidence. Get photos, record statements, and ask for your manager to confirm policies through email — most but not all US states allow for the legal collection of such evidence if at least one person (you) consents to it. Thus the approval of the manager is not needed, and in this it would likely be best if you record in secret. Otherwise, you will have to ask for permission to record a conversation, which lowers your odds of receiving a candid response, or you may have to do without such evidence altogether in the report. Familiarize yourself with your own national and state labor laws. Here are some of the main things to know, although valid only in some jurisdictions:
- Employees have a right to discuss their wages. If management tells you otherwise, report such statements/notices to your state's Department of Labor.
- Mandatory meetings without pay are illegal.
- An employee cannot be fired for not showing up despite having a doctor's note. Most US states don't have sick leave laws however, although if the employee has a qualified FMLA or ADA protection/accommodation it's still a violation if they are fired; furthermore grounds for a lawsuit.
- Water should be free and available at any job site; otherwise it is an OSHA violation.
- It's a big health code violation to tell sick employees to report for work even if they have symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea. Report this to the Health Department.
- Withholding earned pay is generally illegal.
- Off-the-clock work without pay is generally illegal, common examples including preparing for work, cleaning up, waiting, assisting coworkers, or undergoing training outside of clocked hours.
- It is widely unlawful to be hired at one rate and be paid at another. File a wage theft complaint if the promised rate is documented, and consider leaving a negative review of the company commensurate to your experience.
- Dress codes that restrict pro-union apparel are likely illegal. In the US, the National Labor Relations Board has decided so in August 2022.
- Employers are generally forbidden from requiring employees to buy personal protective equipment; they can only request.
Keep in mind that in the US at least, you cannot get unemployment benefits if you quit; only if you are fired. If you have a dispute with management and they tell you, for example, to not bother showing up, ask if that means you are fired to get it clear for this purpose.
In case a trade union is too risky, joining a party may be a better option. You can contact other unions/parties on advice as to how exactly go about this; preferably ones within your locale. You can also contact the IWW as well. Talk to coworkers about labor issues; see who may be open to organizing. Keep things on the down-low until you develop an inner circle of people you trust, and then build a large enough body of workers ready to establish and commit to a union. Start by having meetings secretly until you are prepared enough to take action. Require or at least encourage members to actually read about economics or history so they understand what they are doing.
In the United States, the most real options are the Communist Party USA or the Party for Socialism and Liberation. There is also the American Party of Labor, and alternatively, you can go join the Green Party of the United States, which is officially anti-capitalist as of 2016 and has had a large socialist faction since its founding in the 1980s. Figures like Michael Hudson, however, believe that the US Greens are not a genuine leftist party, although it may also be said that criticisms like those made by Hudson are projections of personal experience with neoliberal Greens in other countries, dispelling the notion of some kind of "international Green solidarity". Furthermore, US Greens are considerably more radical than most other countries' because they have to fight so hard just to get ballot access. In some countries, the Green party is just a front for another party — often in these cases, both are completely corrupt. In these situations their only purpose is to siphon votes and appeal to ecologists, so a more explicitly socialist party would be better in that case.
Consider a mayoral campaign, either running yourself or supporting someone. Mayors can do things like support those seeking to unionize or use municipal funds to expand farming coops on the outskirts of the city.
In the United Kingdom, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist–Leninist) is one of the largest and most viable socialist parties out there. There is also the Socialist Workers Party (UK).
List of organizations
- World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU)
- Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
- AFL-CIO: avoid this one, as it is notoriously corrupt and liberal. It purged its communists in the postwar era of McCarthyism and is nowadays notorious for its support of police unions, some of which are complicit in covering up the brutalities of its members. Quite a lot of funds it receives, rather than going to underpaid organizers, are pocketed by its leadership. The AFL-CIO also spends a lot of money and effort on furthering liberal political agendas, including on the international stage where it has been a long-time and strong opponent of communist unions in Latin America and Europe, helping for example to create the anti-communist union Force Ouvrière in France; a splinter off the historically left-wing General Confederation of Labour.
- Independent Workers Union of Great Britain: If you are not in one of the industries covered by the various sections of the IWGB, you can join the "holding branch".
- Please don't try to hook up with other members of your organization. It will only cause drama.
- Basic Anarcho-Syndicalism (Revolutionary Unionism)
- Voting and community networks
- On situations where the municipality hinders community action
- How to have a communist meeting
- Three rules for overthrowing capitalism
- Three ways to hold a communist meeting
- No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age by Jane McAlevey: An analysis of a dozen unions and social movements that identifies their reasons for success and failure and how this knowledge can be used in overcoming modern reactionary forces.
- Organizing Methods in the Steel Industry by William Z. Foster. Can be used as a general organizing guide.
This is not legal advice; do your own research.
- Can I legally record a conversation between myself and another person?. CriminalDefenseLawyer.com
- Your Right to Discuss Wages. National Labor Relations Board.
- American Labor's Global Ambassadors: The International History of the AFL-CIO During the Cold War. Robert Anthony Waters, Geert van Goethem.