Since 2017, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has endorsed the rank-and-file strategy for labor organizing. The rank-and-file strategy is a framework for transforming labor unions into vehicles for class struggle through bottom-up, grassroots militancy. The rank-and-file strategy seeks to deploy a variety of tactics to harness labor to create a new world from the ashes of the old.
But while the rank-and-file strategy is a coherent framework for socialist unionism, the tactics involved in the strategy have changed based on the state of the US labor movement. The practice of the rank-and-file strategy has shifted by generation, political tendency, and material condition.
Currently, the tactics currently associated with the rank-and-file strategy within DSA are limited. To expand our understanding of rank-and-file militant approaches, and provide new tactics for chapter-level labor organizing, socialists should look to the international labor movement for tactics that succeeded in successfully embedding socialists in the organized sections the working class that remain underutilized in our practice of the rank-and-file strategy today. One notable movement that deserves greater study is the Chinese workers’ movement, as Chinese socialists during the Republican period were equally if not more alienated from the working classes than U.S. socialists now. The core organizers of the nascent Chinese socialist struggle had cut their teeth in student movements, study abroad sojourns, and faculty stints at forward-thinking universities, while the masses remained largely rural and distant from the sources of societal power. The Chinese militant minority were more commonly found on campuses than the countryside or factory floors.
The class makeup of the nascent Chinese socialist movement and DSA was also similar. As Chris Maisano observed regarding the U.S. today, “[the most active elements of the nonruling classes are] finding themselves stuck in crummy jobs that don’t match the skills and credentials they’ve attained, often at great cost, and reading organizing manuals by dead Communists. As Gramsci would have put it, this is a social order whose capacity to exercise intellectual and moral leadership is in crisis.” Similarly, in Republican China, the revolutionaries of the workers’ movement were downwardly-mobile would-be elites educated in a system that had disillusioned them. They responded in the same way: embedding themselves within social forces on the shop floor to channel labor into class struggle. Due to these similarities in the relative position of socialists to the working classes between Republican China and the United States today, strategists should assess the historical record of tactics utilized by Chinese labor organizers to build a workers’ movement possessed by a militancy that eventually led to the overthrow of warlords, empires, and centuries of dynastic rule.
The History of the Rank-and-File Strategy
The rank-and-file strategy owes its weight on the US left to Kim Moody’s pamphlet in 2000, which spells out the framework through a socialist analysis of the contemporary labor movement. But the rank-and-file strategy has much deeper roots within the socialist tradition. The strategy’s bedrock lies in the Trade Union Education League (TUEL) of the early Communist Party, which aimed to build a socialist consciousness within existing worker militancy engaged in class struggle. Conditions were different in those early years. In the 1920s, “it was not necessary for socialists to take industrial jobs in order to create [worker militant] organizations, for the simple reason that socialists already worked in those jobs.”
In the 1920s, socialists were already embedded within the US workers’ movement as the country rose in a worker upsurge. Hundreds of thousands of workers shut down cities, mines, textile factories, and other workplaces. Over 8 million workers went on strike throughout the United States – and socialists were there, front and center and behind. The TUEL organized worker federations and organizations within the American Federation of Labor (now the AFL-CIO) for industrial unionism and union democracy.
Ultimately, the rank-and-file strategy of that era failed due to successful efforts by the conservative leadership of the AFL to neutralize the militants. Moody attributes this failure to the top-down control of the TUEL by the Communist Party. There was no democratic structure and no representation within leadership of non-party members. Those realities made it easy for the AFL’s conservative leadership to demonize and then expel the League, which tanked the strategy completely. The early rank-and-file strategy’s failure is a cautionary tale about authoritarian control over socialist organizing and paranoid cadre-only leadership over extra-organizational apparatuses of class struggle.
Generations later, in the 1970s, socialists faced extremely different material conditions. The United States was fighting a Cold War with Communism; union democracy lay shattered at the feet of corrupt labor leaders who had studied under the conservative leaderships of yore; and social movements ripped across the country for civil rights and Black Power and Red Power and women’s liberation. But as the decade descended into stagflation and deep recession, workers rebelled against both bosses and union bureaucracies. Rank-and-file caucuses formed, Black and Latine caucuses organized within the unions, and farmworkers rose in their own movement.
But unlike before, socialists did not play an active part in the rank-and-file rebellion by the masses in the 1970s. “There wasn’t a socialist leadership, or any kind of leadership, really, coherent leadership across the movements,” Moody recently remarked. A decade of worker militancy, often unauthorized by official union leaderships, did not culminate in a political expression that challenged class rule.
The rank-and-file strategy, as we understand it today, sought to grapple with and provide a methodology to channel rank-and-file rebellion into socialist politics. Hal Draper articulated the need to industrialize, or to take jobs in strategic sectors of blue-collar work, in order to embed socialists within working class self-activity. The International Socialists (IS) became the organization of the rank-and-file movement, particularly in the Midwest, as cadres industrialized in Detroit and Gary and Cleveland. The IS’s’ rank-and-file strategy had become a fully fleshed-out program of class struggle unionism by the mid-1970s. Labor Notes and the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) are specific examples of rank-and-file strategic efforts that remain important in labor strategy today.
Decades passed and amendments were made. Moody penned his 2000 pamphlet based on a lifetime of organizing the rank-and-file strategy. As Moody writes, the rank-and-file strategy is aimed at “ending the isolation of socialists and socialist organizations from the day-to-day struggles and experiences of the organized sections of the working class.” Crucial means by which to end that isolation include building a rank-and-file militant center where labor leaders are deeply connected within membership and cutting off the incestuous loyalty of labor leaders to capital through tactics like supporting reform movements and union caucuses in which socialists can play a critical role. By fomenting rank-and-file self-activity, socialists can through the rank-and-file strategy work from inside the organized working class to build militancy along with their coworkers that acts beyond the narrow sectional interests of union business to advance mass movements of social forces.
However, support for union caucuses and reform movements are not the only tactics Moody recommends. To fully practice a rank-and-file strategy, Moody argues for a number of different tactics including building cross-union and class-wide organizations and publications that serve as movement halfway houses, building ties with community-based working class organizations like environmental justice direct action groups, and coordinating class-based political campaigns that promote class consciousness. The wide variety of potential tactics is exactly why the rank-and-file strategy is a framework, not a prescription, that centers bottom-up working class organization and is deeply skeptical of top-down bureaucracy.
The Rank-and-File Strategy Today
Since the 1970s, the labor movement has changed. Unions have bureaucratized even more and membership rates have similarly dropped. The labor movement has been on the defensive for decades, particularly in so-called “right-to-work” states where the state actively undermines labor’s organizing capacity. The core problem of the 1970s remains the case today: the socialist left remains unmoored from a strong working class base.
The rank-and-file strategy has seen some dividends. Both the 2019 Chicago Teachers Union strike and the 2018 “red state revolts” in the education sector were built on rank-and-file militancy where socialists played key roles and rejected concessions with bosses. The “militant minority” played an important role in organizing the Amazon Labor Union and kick-started the wave of unionization at Starbucks. All of these instances can be understood as part of the traditional rank-and-file strategy, as can many of DSA’s in-house labor programs, such as the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee (EWOC) that meets worker needs with a strategic use of pre-majority transitional campaigns to build power, in which I began my organizing in DSA. These efforts fit the definition of rank-and-file militancy where socialist cadres played key roles in developing rank-and-file leadership and harnessed efforts towards independent class struggle.
Further, the “militant minority” has succeeded in one other way: identity politics as a framework for power-building. I am not referring to the identity politics of cynical elites described in Elite Capture, but rather the identity politics of the Combahee River Collective that Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò endorses – a politics that unifies comrades from disparate identities to build power. The socialist-led “Generation U” (U for Union) within the US workers’ movement has adeptly organized with an organic social justice unionism that understands disability, environmental justice, and racial justice as labor issues that play out in the workplace.
Some critics might argue that some long-standing campaigns built on the rank-and-file strategy have seen some doubt. One is the victory of the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU). The TDU, which arose from the rank-and-file rebellion of the 1970s with a core organizing apparatus manned by socialist cadres, successfully ousted the Hoffa dynasty and took power over the most strategically powerful union in the country in 2021. The win was a product of efforts over decades against a deeply hostile conservative union leadership.
However, TDU made a number of concessions with other labor elements to gain power. The TDU-supported Sean O’Brien speaks with militancy but was originally a strong opponent of the TDU. He gained power through the TDU but kept many old guard leaders in positions of prominence next to him. The TDU has minimal capacity to critique and organize against O’Brien’s leadership because reformers have a vested interest in O’Brien’s leadership apparatus when TDU’s International Steering Committee includes four paid employees of O’Brien’s administration. It is far too early to definitively assess the TDU’s 2021 victory, but the tactical choices made to gain power may have compromised too much of the rank-and-file militancy that fueled and sustained the TDU. The successes and failures of the TDU should become clear during the UPS contract negotiation and potential strike of 350,000 in summer 2023.
DSA and the Rank-and-File Strategy
There are a number of socialist organizations with different understandings of the rank-and-file strategy currently working towards a better world. But in DSA, the rank-and-file strategy’s primary expression was formulated most recently in a 2022 pamphlet by DSA’s National Labor Commission (NLC). The pamphlet is more than just a political document; as a publication of DSA’s current labor leadership with ties to YDSA strategy, it seeks to be the dominant labor strategy practiced by the organization today.
The NLC’s rank-and-file strategy differs in a number of ways from that of the IS. One notable difference is the role of union staffers. One former editor of Labor Notes, Jane Slaughter, stressed in 2019 that staffers could not play a central role in rank-and-file rebellion. NLC’s articulation of the strategy, however, argues for a more nuanced understanding of the union staffer’s role. While the “power and change we need can only come from the union’s members,” union staffers can do auxiliary work to support rank-and-filers. Another difference between the traditional and the NLC’s rank-and-file strategies is contrasting understandings of electoral work.
But arguably more important than the pamphlet’s details is the practical debate within DSA about the rank-and-file strategy. The rank-and-file strategy is the current axis upon which the labor debate oscillates. That axis is a straw man. Instead of understanding the rank-and-file strategy as a programmatic framework centering working class self-activity, DSA debate about the rank-and-file strategy often conceives of class struggle unionism as a prescription for socialists to leave their current jobs and take union jobs – industrializing.
The reality is that industrializing is one important, not the sole, tactic of the rank-and-file strategy. Industrializing played an important role in the 1970s, but the lessons learned from those years as articulated by Kim Moody include a wide variety of other tactics. What should matter is not the specific tactic, but rather the approach: rank-and-file militancy through bottom-up power that develops a labor leadership deeply connected to the rank-and-file and not loyal to capital. The IS’ and NLC’s tactics differ from one another, but both show a larger variety of tactics than current debates tend to fixate upon.
In any case, however, fleshing out an effective rank-and-file strategy for our conditions today requires a far greater gambit of militant approaches beyond industrializing. If we want to build the “militant minority” and an even more effective labor strategy throughout the chapters of DSA, we should look to international examples of labor tactics that transform rank-and-file rebellion into class struggle – like those of the early Chinese workers’ movement.
Rank-and-File Tactics of the Chinese Labor Movement
The early part of the twentieth century in China was a time of great upheaval. After many successive rebellions over generations, the Qing Dynasty had fallen into dysfunction and finally been overthrown by the bourgeois-democratic Xinhai Revolution fought by both revolutionaries and militarists with no interest in social change. The power structures of the old society remained intact despite the change in national leadership. Much like many DSA members whose frustration at the US state’s apparent inability to enact change without social revolution led us to democratic socialism, left-wing Chinese intellectuals increasingly embraced various socialist tendencies as theoretical frameworks fitted to Chinese conditions to end class rule.
But these Chinese socialists faced the same problem as US socialists – except worse. Chinese socialists in the 1920s were not embedded within the working classes. US socialists in the same time period were far closer to the working base than their Chinese counterparts. The movement for socialism in China originated in an anti-imperialist urban thrust for a new culture, when the majority of working people in China lived in the countryside and chafed under a patchwork of dictatorial warlords. The founders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) were professors like Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao, came from scholar-official or landlord families like Cai Hesen and Dong Biwu, or were highly-educated students and graduates like Zhang Guotao and Deng Zhongxia. Lu Xun, the seminal leftist writer of the age, constantly agonized over the reality that the intellectual class was deeply removed from the masses throughout his short stories. China’s most influential social critic was so skeptical about the unmooring of the intelligentsia from the working base that he gave speeches that doubted the value of revolutionary literature written by intellectuals at all.
And like DSA, Chinese socialists identified the labor movement as one important key to building power within the nascent left. Their task was the same as ours. They developed similar conclusions that rank-and-file rebellion channeled by socialists into class struggle was needed. While the entire history of the Chinese labor movement can be informative for developing strategy, I will focus on three tactics in particular that labor organizers in DSA should consider adapting for the rank-and-file strategy: the Li-Liu Model, geographic industrial unionism, and recreational clubs as a basis for labor power. Through these tactics and others, Chinese socialists successfully embedded themselves within the working class base and fueled a workers’ movement that changed history.
Tactic I: The Li-Liu Model
First, the Li-Liu Model presents a specific approach to developing leadership with a proven track record of success. Both the rank-and-file strategy and labor organizer Jane McAlevey’s approach (or “McAleveyism”) stress the importance of leadership in workplaces. The rank-and-file strategy focuses on developing militant collective leadership, while McAleveyism concentrates on identifying preexisting organic leaders. But neither provides a roadmap for socialists seeking to develop ourselves or our comrades as rank-and-file “militant minority” workplace leaders ourselves. For that, the Li-Liu Model may be helpful.
The Li-Liu Model was forged in the fires of a raging kiln: the 1922 Anyuan Strike. As chronicled in an essay written by Elizabeth J. Perry in the exhaustive Proletarian China: A Century of Chinese Labor, the strike exploded from a coal mine and marked the first major industrial uprising led by Chinese socialists: “the impressive size of the strike, coming so soon after the establishment of the CCP and directly attributable to its organizational efforts, were certainly sufficient to justify a prominent place in the history books.” A key organizational effort was the joint socialist leadership of two cadres, Li Lisan and Liu Shaoqi, for whom I name the Li-Liu Model.
Li and Liu brought two distinctively contrasting yet complementary leadership styles to labor. Li Lisan leaned into a charismatic approach that allowed him to gain rapport within the workplace and then capitalize on existing workplace dynamics, which he then channeled into slogans that intentionally framed labor issues as issues of dignity. For example, the slogan for the strike was “once beasts of burden, now we will be men,” which carries similarities to the famous “I Am A Man” slogan of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike in 1968. Both intentionally framed class struggle in terms of dignity instead of doctrine.
Values-based conversations were crucial to Li’s success in building rank-and-file militancy that precipitated the strike, which combined with a cultural competency foundational to Li’s charisma. Li presented a bottle of liquor and a rooster, elements of a Triad sworn-brotherhood ritual, to the gang leaders who controlled power within the Anyuan worker ranks. The offering allowed him to neutralize interpersonal structures that would most certainly have become obstacles for rank-and-file militancy. Li transformed would-be opponents into allies through cultural competency at the heart of his charismatic labor organizing.
However, Li’s charisma was insufficient. His efforts would have been in vain had it not been for Liu Shaoqi’s disciplined calculation and instinct for details. Liu’s nuts-and-bolts power analysis successfully channeled Li’s charisma into executing a plan that built power. While deeply different, both approaches were indispensable. After the successful strike, the CCP not only dispatched Li and Liu to other labor organizing efforts; the party also adopted the Li-Liu Model in and of itself for future projects. “A noteworthy feature of CCP operations – first adopted at Anyuan and later elaborated in Shanghai – was a judicious and self-conscious balancing of mobilization styles that checked charisma with caution by deploying leaders known for contrary yet complementary personalities and proclivities,” writes Perry.
To adapt the Li-Liu Model for the rank-and-file strategy, DSA labor organizers can organize a number of different ways. One is for chapter labor committees to focus on power mapping the chapter for cadres with contrasting yet complementary leadership styles and organizing them into labor projects. The focus then can be on developing them as leaders through one-on-ones and activities that make them work with one another and separate from others, to create a Li-Liu unit. While DSA organizers taking jobs at the same shop may be difficult to coordinate, the complementary style can be adapted for the benefit of any strategic labor project. The Li individual can insert themselves into a workplace while the Liu individual may be trained in strategic corporate research, stakeholder analysis, or any other needed task for the benefit of turning workplace complaints into rank-and-file revolt.
A second necessity is training DSA labor organizers in cultural competency. While presenting bottles of liquor and roosters may not be called for in every instance, some kind of show of respect and communication navigation in the cultural register of workplaces is always needed in the militant minority. One obvious example is language proficiency. A strategic priority for labor committees seeking to organize alongside diverse US migrant communities should be developing language capacity by devoting resources to hiring tutors for Spanish (or Cantonese, or Mandarin, or Arabic, or Vietnamese, or Tagalog, or Amharic) and creating an internal language learning program and mutual aid within the chapter. Another option is to connect with international struggles for the purpose of strategic language education. For example, chapters can send labor organizers not proficient in Spanish to the Oventic Language School at el Centro de Español y Lenguas Mayas Rebelde Autónomo Zapatista (CELMRAZ) in Chiapas, Mexico to learn Spanish from Zapatista educators. The Li-Liu Model structures a division of labor in which organizers can capitalize on strengths and abandon weaknesses to provide them a promising opportunity to lead working class self-organization.
Tactic II: Geographic Industrial Unionism
A second Chinese tactic for the rank-and-file strategy borrows from the syndicalist tradition: geographic industrial unionism. Instead of organizing people by shop for a contract, the tactic builds a union of rank-and-file militancy across many sectors – a whole market, a full neighborhood, or an entire city. In the United States, the early Knights of Labor organized workers’ assemblies based in specific localities that cut across industry and occupation that bore some resemblance to the technique. The tactic was championed also by the Industrial Workers of the World and deployed by the Stamford Organizing Project undertaken across the city of Stamford, Connecticut by a number of unions and community organizations that organized across shops and churches in the late 1990s. And in November 2022, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) launched a worker-led initiative to organize the South in the form of the Union of Southern Service Workers (USSW) – a union with local chapters where workers organize their locale rather than their shop. The USSW marks a new resurgence of geographic industrial unionism in the contemporary labor movement.
During the May 30th Movement in China, Li Lisan and Liu Shaoqi sought to organize a specific geographic location – Shanghai – rather than an individual shop. Chinese labor organizers capitalized on a precipitating incident (the death of a worker) to then glue together a strike as a means to build labor power across Shanghai in the form of the General Labor Union. Their aim was a “triple strike,” a mobilization of workers, students, and business interests to protest the brutal imperialism of Japan. To do so, they mobilized large numbers of workers regardless of shop to the streets. The effort became a rubric of labor organizing in Shanghai for many years. The triple strike, with its similarities to a general strike, was also the goal of labor organizers in Hong Kong in late 2019 and 2020 and the strategy called for by Peng Lifa shortly before the unprecedented mass mobilization of workers and students in China in November 2022.
There were two methods that enabled the success of geographic industrial unionism that DSA organizers could adapt. One is the focus elucidated by Apo Leong in Proletarian China by Chinese socialists on building relationships with local businesses to decrease opposition and provide strike support. The idea was a pragmatic tactic, one that delayed the strike’s complete sabotage by capitalists and put funds into the strike, but that delay was not complete prevention. The tactic was also deployed by union organizers in certain cases in the history of the U.S. labor movement. But the technique is not without its pitfalls. In Shanghai, the business community abandoned the strike and ended the rank-and-file rebellion. While courting local small businesses that may be sympathetic to a community strike by a labor union could be useful depending on the locality, DSA organizers may want to first see whether or not civic groups are willing to back the union through one-on-ones with civic groups that appeal to shared values in the style of deep canvassing.
The second method that requires less qualification is the pragmatic approach taken by Chinese socialists to the party question. Simply put, socialist labor organizers in China were not concerned about building party-only labor organizations. The General Labor Union was organized by socialists but sought to be a labor organization of the entire Shanghai working class. Many delegates and members were not affiliated with the CCP. Instead of focusing on cut-and-dried “banking model” indoctrination and litmus testing, Chinese socialists instead chose to pursue a tactic that baptized Shanghai workers in class struggle through direct organizing alongside cadres.
That decision was crucial to building power with the working class and embedding socialists in the base and differed markedly from the paranoid control by the US Communist Party of the TUEL that doomed the rank-and-file strategy in the 1920s. DSA organizers, in building extra-organizational labor centers for rank-and-file militancy, should not attempt to litmus test workers on the basis of their affiliation to the organized left.
Tactic III: Recreational Clubs as a Base for Labor Organizing
A third tactic employed by Chinese socialists to build rank-and-file power was forming recreational clubs based on labor relationships in places where the state was most hostile to labor organizing. Doing so created a social base that formed trust and respect and a shared social fabric that could then become a basis for labor organizing. In 1930s Hong Kong, the colonial government was deeply antagonistic to both socialism and labor. As Lu Yan shows in Proletarian China, labor was outlawed, the business elite pounced into a red scare, and political refugees were, when found, deported over the border to a mainland run by the then-fascist regime also intent on persecuting socialists.
In lieu of organizing for labor causes, socialists created labor organizations that provided the same social fabric and base for organizing. “Former union activists who had survived anti-Communist repression quietly played a key role in organizing fellow Chinese seamen into recreational clubs tolerated by the colonial state” including Cantonese opera, which provided organizers the ability to build a network of working people connected to one another. That fabric was essential to creating the rank-and-file militancy that led to massive work stoppages when a precipitating event occurred. In 1937, thousands of workers left their jobs in unison and staged boycotts across multiple sectors. Socialists played important roles in fomenting these struggles. They channeled worker grievances into collective action that formed collective power.
As shown by Lu Yan, the labor upsurge connected anti-imperialist Chinese internationalism to the workers’ class positions, a complex socialist politic that was forged through struggle itself. That victory would not have been possible without the base formed by recreational clubs that disguised the framework of a labor union.
The tactic of leading with recreation not only succeeded in Hong Kong, but also in European socialist movements. As Mike Davis argued in Old Gods, New Enigmas: Marx’s Lost Theory, “the ideas of socialism … became embodied in well-organized counter-cultures that projected the solidarities of the workplace and neighborhood into all aspects of recreation, education, and culture.” These recreational systems reinforced solidarity and class identity in Catalonia, Austria, and Germany. In Catalonia, anarcho-syndicalists organized urban life through literacy and neighborhood theater that became shared spaces then used by Catalonian anarchists to coordinate strike support and mobilizations. The Austromarxists engaged thousands of workers in hiking associations and education and theater that created a working people’s social fabric shared by the same class, which was pivotal to the success of Red Vienna’s municipal transformation. Sports leagues also became the battleground for political education of working class youth in Germany, particularly in football clubs, as bourgeois civil society excluded workers from recreational societies. While these European examples were not all directly connected to labor organizing, they show the continued international importance of recreation as political ground for building class consciousness and rank-and-file militancy.
While no state in the current US has been as successful in criminalizing labor as Hong Kong’s colonial government in the 1930s, there are many states where the state governments stop only just short of criminalization – right-to-work states. DSA organizers can adapt the Chinese socialist tactic of utilizing recreation as a base for rank-and-file power in places with little to no labor organization. Building up and inviting coworkers who are not political into socialist-led efforts can create trust that builds the base for labor organizing and consciousness-raising, regardless of whether those coworkers share a shop or a neighborhood or a mall. Recreational clubs – from sports, to bowling leagues, to hiking squads – can become a social bedrock for labor organizing efforts. DSA organizers should consider organizing recreational activities for non-socialists who share labor conditions as a strategic priority.
As three of DSA’s labor leaders argued recently in Dissent, our organization must prioritize labor organizing. Organizers have developed a foundation of labor solidarity, new organizing, strategic job recruitment, and industry coordination. We should continue to power map our membership, which includes both connecting workers in the same industries and plugging in organizers in strategic sector jobs. We should continue to develop a committee of the logistics industry that possesses the most power in the supply chain. And most importantly, we need to devote far more of our resources to labor organizing while simultaneously streamlining chapter work with priority campaigns that ensure labor organizing fits into a larger strategic vision and organizing project and is not sidelined to one of a dozen working groups.
In order to manifest the bottom-up militancy that fuels the rank-and-file strategy capable of transforming labor into class struggle, we should also assess Chinese labor tactics built on the same rank-and-file premise that succeeded in embedding socialists within the working class base. Three of these tactics are the Li-Liu Model, geographic industrial unionism, and recreational clubs as a base for labor organizing. These tactics will not be useful in all circumstances, but may be useful in some. Further, they may provide direction to organizers with chapters without large labor organizing infrastructures and chapters in right-to-work states that are more hostile to labor itself. Building a strong rank-and-file militancy requires initiative at grassroots levels of both the organization and the movement.