2022 Organizing Guide

Table of Contents

6. Think Bigger:
How to Build Labor Union and Socialist Cooperation for M4A

Whether you are rallying constituents against a congressperson who accepts health insurance money, or launching a community Medical Debt Clinic, we are strongest when we fight together. Very few DSA chapters are large enough or have enough clout to swing a congressional election on their own and, as such, cannot expect to move a congressperson to sign onto Medicare for All without the assistance of other organized groups of working people.

We are building a mass movement, but we have suffered crushing defeats and suppression for decades - strong left-labor coalitions will be a critical backbone for the sustainability of our movement. Why left-labor in particular? Because the left needs the power of organized labor to achieve our goals. The only force powerful enough to challenge the capitalist class is an organized and militant working class. Without strong support from organized labor, without reassurance for people about our jobs and benefits during this transformative change, we will never be able to win Medicare for All in the first place.

And organized labor needs a left, too. Our socialist organization can serve as the bridge between the organized working class and the disorganized working class, and our shared goal not only to notch wins and benefits, but to collectively bargain for power. We can provide political leadership by articulating a principled, universalist, socialist political program. That program has to be shared: we can leverage community support to ensure working class victories. It’s no secret that ending healthcare benefits is a way to discipline striking workers and force concessions, and that our projects are intertwined in the totality of capitalism. Solidarity forever.

If you’re currently a union member, or you already have members in common with your chapter, start inside your rank and file. Discuss healthcare and COVID in one-on-one conversations with your coworkers, bringing up ideas like universal healthcare and Medicare for All. If you get a positive response, let them know you’re thinking about getting your local to organize on healthcare to protect not only your own workers but workers everywhere without a union.

Here are some ideas for escalating asks about healthcare that can politicize your local, consolidate support for change, and actually move the needle on legislation.

Build a healthcare committee, caucus, or working group:

  • Step 1: Rank and file support and connection
    • Ask them to leave you a voice memo, send an email, or a text, with just 2-3 sentences explaining what universal healthcare would mean to them and/or their family
  • Step 2: Collect and demonstrate your support
    • Ask your coworkers to start gathering other statements of support, and when you are satisfied with the number of statements you have, compile them into a document to send to your local’s political coordinator, asking to hold a political education event on single payer healthcare
  • Step 3: Hold a political education event
    • Work with your members and DSA to develop a political education session that demonstrates the economic and moral case for Medicare for All and what you can do about it. Be clear on how unions would benefit from Medicare for All.
  • Step 4: Form your committee
    • From your attendees and the coworkers who expressed support
  • Step 5: Make a statement
    • Write an official resolution or a memo of support to be voted upon in your local and released to legislators.

Chapters and Labor Committees, start to map your community. What labor unions have locals in your city? Have they already voted to support Medicare for All? How many members do they have - do you have members in common? Is there a centralized labor council or federation in your city? Do they endorse candidates or campaigns? What campaigns are they working on? Who are the union members in your chapter? Start to brainstorm contacts for different labor unions, beginning where you already have trusting relationships with solidarity work and shared members if possible, and reach to set up a one-on-one conversation about shared political ground. Want to talk through this process with an M4A organizer? Have you had success with this process? Sign up for the campaign and we’ll reach out to you!

This month, start just by mapping your local, community, chapter, beginning to build relationships, and discussing the structure of a campaign. Next month, we’ll start to work on concrete ways we can bring those relationships into shared struggle to win Medicare for All.

Each month, we’ll release new M4A Organizing Resources to help you stay up with current political events and work on specific threats or opportunities to our movement. Coming soon: Stop Privatization, Building Labor Support, M4A in the Midterms, Reproductive Justice, City Politics, Healthcare History, and more!