Chairs of each YDSA national committee were asked to write a report back on the work their committee did this year.
The reports first appeared in the Summer 2023 Print Issue, which can be found here.
By Charlie Muller
This past year, the YDSA Labor Committee (YLC) focused on supporting YDSA chapters and organizers interested in organizing undergraduate student workers on campuses across the country. To do so, the YLC facilitated the Labor Cohort, a bi-weekly labor education program which offered an organizing skill training or workshop each week, followed by breakout group discussions about specific organizing conditions. Labor Cohort sessions held trainings on workplace mapping, identifying an organizing issue, one-on-one organizing conversations, escalating actions, union affiliation, filing for certification elections, and building an organizing committee. Workshops featured guest speakers from different workplace organizing campaigns sharing their experiences. Many emphasized the importance of rank-and-file democracy and militancy. The purpose of the Labor Cohort was to give both YDSA members and non-YDSA student workers the skills, confidence, and community needed to organize with their coworkers to build powerful, democratic unions.
The YLC developed new leaders who gained the confidence to teach their comrades how to organize. In the early spring of 2023, attendance for the Labor Cohort began to drop off from the initial peak of over thirty attendees. The YDSA National Coordinating Committee (NCC), in consultation with the co-chairs and members of the YLC, decided to end the Labor Cohort. For the rest of the semester, the YLC facilitated strategic and political discussions surrounding questions that face YDSA and the student-worker movement. As such, we learned that YLC has the capacity to effectively execute political and strategic discussions, in addition to direct organizing trainings. Looking ahead, the YLC will have to figure out its role in offering labor education training for YDSA members and student workers, in relation to the existence of organizations independent of YDSA, including the Student Worker Alliance Network (SWAN).
Mentorship Coordinating Committee
By Mason Wyss
The Mentor Coordinating Committee (MCC) has been working diligently to foster the future growth of YDSA by training and coordinating leaders in DSA on how to advise their local YDSA chapters. Over the past year, the MCC has furthered this goal by creating a message board for YDSA mentors to chat and communicate, hosting trainings and check-ins for mentors, and building resources for mentors to use. The first training the committee held was to help mentors understand and assist in the Fall Drive, YDSA’s annual recruitment push. We taught mentors the fundamental skills of campus outreach so that they could pass these lessons on to YDSA chapters that are early in their organizing or need help relaunching at the beginning of the new school year.
At our check-in calls, mentors discussed problems they had encountered and potential solutions, how to build the skills of their YDSA members, and how to build the relationship between their DSA and YDSA chapters. To finish the school year, the MCC held a mass call for graduating YDSA members so that they may more successfully and confidently transition out of the youth wing and into the adult section of DSA. Several of the YDSA leaders who attended the graduates call have already committed to mentorship this upcoming year!
Campaign Organizing Committee
By Bobby Woodruff and Sarandon Elliott
The Campaign Organizing Committee (COC) has the goal of connecting local chapters to experienced organizers to learn campaign skills. Despite our committee’s relatively new position within national YDSA, we have been able to accomplish a lot. Resolution 14 at the 2022 YDSA Summer Convention tasked the COC with running a national campaign for reproductive justice and trans bodily autonomy through one major day of action, which was held on October 6, 2022. Over fifty chapters around the country signed up to participate in the national day of action. Despite the wide and diverse set of obstacles faced by chapters around the country, big and small chapters, all with varying political and material conditions, came together and pushed back against the attacks on bodily autonomy and queer youth. Chapters found ways to aid their communities and spread class consciousness by holding walkouts, protests, mutual aid events, and educational events.
Because of this inspiring work, young people in large numbers came to YDSA wanting to help grow the socialist movement by getting involved in their local chapters or even in some cases wanting to start brand new chapters. The COC had the privilege of helping many of these smaller or new chapters get integrated into YDSA and help them start to identify wins that were possible for them to achieve. With a little help from experienced organizers many of these new organizers have gone on to create brand new YDSA chapters this past year.
By Andrew Basta
At the 2022 YDSA Convention, delegates passed “Resolution 10: Integrating YDSA into the International Committee,” which formalized the International Committee Youth Leadership Committee (ICYLC) as an advisory and educational body of YDSA members under the oversight of the International Committee (IC)’s Steering Committee. Since then, YDSA members have been hard at work supporting anti-imperialist and internationalist efforts throughout DSA. The first semester consisted largely of setting up some of the groundwork to build our committee. This started with the effort to ensure that all committee members would join the various regional and topical committees of the IC. As we began organizing as an officially DSA-approved body in the end of 2022, the ICYLC first worked to maintain connections YDSA had built from previous years. This includes Ógra Sinn Féin from Ireland, Young Labour in the United Kingdom, and the Brazilian Worker’s Party Youth section, JPT.
ICYLC members have helped to support campaigns of the IC. This includes support for the ZENKO Henoko Anti-Base Project. ICYLC members have participated in regular meetings with members of ZENKO and other Japanese coalition organizations. ICYLC members have also worked on building our relationship with the Turkish Workers Party following the devastating earthquake in February and ahead of their parliamentary elections held in May. Finally, ICYLC members have supported the Korea Peace Now Campaign with demands such as ending the travel ban on North Korea, lifting sanctions, and formally moving to end the Korean War in order for the peninsula to finally begin the process of peace, self-determination, and reconciliation. This summer, the ICYLC will send a micro delegation to a summer camp hosted by the Dutch youth socialist organization, ROOD, at the end of July, that will also be attended by Germany’s Die Linke.
Grievance Advisory Council
By Niko Johnson-Fuller
The 2022 YDSA Summer Convention created the Grievance Advisory Council (GAC) to help YDSA chapters develop their grievance processes and work towards healthier organizing spaces. GAC has focused on updating bylaws templates for YDSA chapters, distributing resources and guidelines to chapters, and meeting with chapter leaders and grievance officers directly to work on establishing and maintaining their grievance processes. This work began immediately with the creation of a section ont he YDSA constitution template on the grievance process, which was previously empty. We also set up communication platforms for the committee so chapters could begin to contact us and set up advising appointments on their grievance processes. Since then we have been meeting with chapters and refined the steps to discuss the relevant aspects and recommend next steps with each of them.
As the 2023 YDSA Conference approached, we focused on preparation for outreach to chapters, including a workshop, breakout group, and informational table staffed by GAC members. Outside of our contact via email and text banking, this was the most significant opportunity we had to distribute the resources and guidelines we had been working on to chapters. Throughout this year we also began to develop a relationship with DSA’s newly established National Committee of Grievance Officers (NCGO) and promoted their first public gathering. In the months following the conference we have worked on updating the resources we provide to chapters and developed another YDSA constitution template update regarding the application of the grievance process in removing chapter leadership and grievance officers.