A Practical Guide to Strike Solidarity for DSA Members

Community members rally to support members of BCTGM Local 364 in their strike against Nabisco in August 2021.

1. Come often, bring energy, make relationships

This is without a doubt the most important thing you can do, and it is what will allow you to effectively carry out all the other actions described in this article: Go to the picket line. Go to the picket line. Go to the picket line.

KATU News and other local media outlets reported on community members protesting deliveries to the Nabisco plant.

2. Organize support actions

Solidarity actions from the community – like rallies or protests – can serve several basic goals: give workers a morale boost, connect DSA with the labor movement, and object to continued company operations. Whatever activities you engage in, communicate consistently with the strikers about their needs and how you can be most helpful. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions, as union members may not have much pre-existing idea of what community support could look like.

  • Protest scabs and delivery workers as they enter and exit the facility, such as with a large group of people who stand in front of entrances/exits, or by parking cars or creating other barriers. Yell and chant until they go away, or at least make it more difficult and uncomfortable for them to continue as normal. Police response to such actions will vary greatly city to city, but in some places it may take them a long time to respond, and even longer for a tow truck to finally arrive. If you use parked cars, mitigate the risk of getting towed by being ready to drive away as soon as the truck arrives. Peaceful blocking with bodies can be easily combined with rallies or picket line support as described above.
  • If the employer has brought in scabs from out of town, research where they are staying and stage an action at their hotel. Figure out what their work schedule is; you may need to do some reconnaissance at the hotel or work site. Show up at the hotel in the middle of their sleep schedule and wake them up with loud noises like chanting, pots and pans, or car horns. Only a few minutes of noise-making is needed to make this effective. Or, at the start or end of their shift, stage an action in the entrance of the hotel or hotel parking lot. Create a “walk of shame” by forcing strike-breakers to pass through a crowd of hostile (but nonviolent) protesters.
  • Sometimes the main object of a strike is to create a public crisis that poisons the company brand or compels political decision-makers to act. To accomplish this, all kinds of creative, disruptive, attention-grabbing actions can work: marches, car or bicycle caravans, street blockades, sit-ins, loud and visual disruptions of services inside or outside the worksite, dramatic props like giant puppets or postcards, mock ceremonies, vigils, takeovers of meetings, town halls, calling into talk shows, letters to the editor, or occupying key locations for the employer, such as a school, company headquarters, a retail location, or even in front of a manager’s home. Use intel from workers to determine the best target.
Portland DSA members gather in front of the Nabisco plant in North Portland.

3. Use and build the organizational power of DSA

Strike solidarity campaigns are an opportunity to use the organization we have and to find new ways of growing it. Although the most important ways to engage with a strike are in sections 1 and 2 of this guide, ask yourselves these questions too:

  • What does your chapter infrastructure need to make strike support possible? Do you have the supplies you would need to mobilize to a rally, and are your chapter members prepared to use them (e.g., megaphones, DSA banner, DSA shirts or pins, PA system)? For turnout, do you have an email listserv and can you submit a mass text request through Spoke? What social media platforms can you use?
  • Who is a union member in your chapter? National DSA can provide you with a list! Can you contact each of them individually and ask them to get their local to support the strike?
  • What nearby chapters can you mobilize for turnout in addition to your own? Are there chapters elsewhere in the country that could do a solidarity action, such as picketing a company headquarters?
  • Does the local union need fundraising support? Can you boost their strike fund on social media or make a GoFundMe for them? Can you make and sell buttons or other items to then donate the proceeds? Can your chapter donate directly to their strike fund? Can you contact other chapters or local unions in the area and ask them to do the same?
  • What forums can you use to educate DSA members and others about the workers’ struggle and the history of their union and industry? Can you invite strikers to speak at a political education event or give an update at a General Meeting?

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Portland DSA

Portland DSA

The Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Hailing from all corners of the socialist left, our goal is a better world beyond capitalism.