One of the most fundamental labor actions is the picket line, and everyone should know how to show up. This is great to share with comrades about how to effectively show up as socialists!
- Ask how you can support the picket. Most picket lines will have some kind of sign-in table where there is water, picket signs, etc. Ask one of the strike leaders what you can do to help, whether it’s passing out water, joining the picket line, going to a weaker picket line on the other side of the building, etc. Follow the workers’ vibes!
- Ask Questions and Listen:
- Why are these workers on strike? What are their major demands? What things have they experienced in their workplace that have led them to go on strike?
- Respect the leadership of the rank-and-file. Rank and file activism comes from the workers first and foremost. It may be intimidating for many workers to publicly demonstrate against their employer; their choices and judgment of how to proceed or conclude in a strike situation should be respected.
- Be positive! Especially if the workers announce any kind of win or gain, join in with positive energy and celebrations on the picket line. Picketing is hard work, and part of your role is to help lift everyone’s spirits.
Our role on the picket line is not to be critics of a strike or its tactics, but to support what’s in front of us.
- Taking a leadership role. This action was initiated by and should be carried out by the workers themselves. If you are invited to make a speech or lead chants, take the opportunity. If not, avoid taking a megaphone, creating or relocating picket lines, or implementing a tactic not taken by strike leaders unless asked to do so.
- Using tactics not authorized by the leaders of the strike. This comes with respecting the leadership of the rank-and-file and not taking on an aggressive leadership role. Workers have discussed and decided on their tactics; our role is to support, not question them during their action.
- Promoting a DSA campaign, unless asked. Our role is to be present in solidarity with the rank and file and supportive of the strike or action, not to evangelize DSA. If a striking worker starts talking to you about M4A or Bernie Sanders, you should feel empowered to discuss that, but DSA’s work is not the main focus.
- Union workers may have had previous negative experiences with socialists aggressively handing out newspapers, and we want to avoid reproducing that!
- Clustering with other DSA members. While we want to avoid being aggressive, we also don’t want to isolate ourselves. Instead of just standing with your DSA comrades, circulate throughout the strike, ask workers questions about the issues, and find out how you can help.