We are proud to announce Bread & Roses member Laura Wadlin’s candidacy for the vacant position on the National Political Committee.
Laura has a strong record of leadership in her chapter, Portland DSA, and she is an experienced union organizer and electoral campaigner. Her commitment to membership democracy and building labor militancy is much needed on the NPC.
Working as an ESL instructor at Portland Community College, she is a Lead Steward in her union, AFT Local 2277. There she has built a growing reform caucus and is working hard to prepare the local for a strike later this year. Prior to that, she was inspired by Bernie’s run in 2016 to lead two unionization campaigns in her workplaces.
Laura has worked on several electoral campaigns in canvassing and communications roles, including for DSA member Dana Carstensen for Metro Council in 2018, DSA for Bernie in 2019-2020, and two tax-the-rich ballot measures: Universal Preschool for All which won in 2020, and Eviction Representation for All which will be on the ballot in May 2023. She organized two “Bernie Journey” trips, bringing DSA members to Iowa and doorknocking Spanish-speakers in mobile home parks, and then to Nevada to do guerrilla canvassing of union housekeepers on the Las Vegas Strip. Currently she is developing a network of socialist labor leaders to recruit candidates for local office on a class struggle slate, hoping to plant a seed for a future labor party. This is the vision for merging DSA’s electoral and labor strategies that Laura will champion on the NPC.
Laura’s most prominent role is as an organizer in the Portland DSA Labor Working Group since 2018, where she has developed DSA’s relationship with dozens of rank-and-file organizers across industries and helped cement the chapter’s reputation in the labor movement as the go-to solidarity organization. Laura led community support efforts in the BCTGM strike at Nabisco, a healthcare workers’ near-strike at Kaiser, a cross-union near-strike at the City of Portland, a nurses near-strike at Providence, the Laborers 483 strike at the City of Portland, multiple Starbucks strikes, and others. These efforts have recruited many rank-and-file leaders to DSA and inspired one healthcare workers’ union to make a political donation of $10,000 to Portland DSA — twice.
Laura has served in many local and national leadership roles including Portland DSA Steering Committee in 2019-2020, Portland DSA Co-chair in 2021-2022, DSA for Bernie Communications Team in 2019-2020, Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee in 2020-2021, and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union solidarity sub-committee of the National Labor Committee during the Nabisco strike in 2021.
The NPC faces a crisis of waning spirit, bureaucratic confusion, and political inaction. Laura will bring fresh energy and ambitious ideas about how to go forward as the most important socialist organization in the U.S. in generations.
As several NPC members have explained elsewhere, they regularly face unnecessary roadblocks to fulfilling the political commitments made at our conventions. We need to make sure that we are not mimicking the mistakes of bureaucratic NGOs where members are out of the loop, decision-making powers are unclear, and projects are misguidedly “de-politicized.” Membership democracy is a complicated principle to uphold, but Laura’s extensive history in DSA and the labor movement give her the experience necessary to navigate our sensitive internal dynamics.
While many NPC members have similar electoral experience as Laura, few would be as rooted in workplace struggle and the Marxist principles underlying it. Imagine an NPC that was playing an enthusiastic role in gearing up DSA for a potential Teamster strike at UPS this summer — one of the most important labor events in years. Imagine NPC members appearing on the news and writing op-eds to talk about the strike and the power of workplace organizing.
A healthy and powerful national organization — a DSA we can be proud of — is possible if we have leaders who are willing to push past our old habits to chart a new course for a new era of socialist politics.