The Role of the WSA Local Branch

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Dec 21 2012 04:22
The Role of the WSA Local Branch

Workers Solidarity Allaince/Alianza Solidaridad Obrero

The Role of the WSA Local Branch

On the following pages, please find a thumbnail sketch of the role and nature of a WSA Local Branch.

This booklet is meant as a general outline of how a Local Branch might operate. We recognize that not all Local Branches will have the same size and capacities to implement each and every item in this booklet.

Recognizing that local conditions will dictate the form and implementation these concepts will take, comrades should be as flexible with the implementation as required by the local conditions. What is important is that the Local Branch be organized and act in as coherent and efficient manner as possible. The aim is not to over-structure, but to be effective in carrying out the work of the organization.


The WSA Local Branch is the basic and most important component of the organization. Aside from the Commissions which may be formed by the WSA, the major burden of work, action and activities rests upon the Local Branches.

Who Can Belong to a Local Branch?

Membership in a Local Branch is based on the same criteria as membership in the WSA. The member must be in agreement with our basic political statement, Where We Stand.** According to our WSA Constitution*, WSA membership “shall be comprised of wage workers, the unemployed, and those objectively a part of the working class.”

Membership in our organization is open to students, homemakers, unemployed, retired and self- employed people as members. What job we have is not what unites us, but rather that we all identify as part of the same class and work together to change society.

Local Branches shall make their geographic jurisdiction known to the Coordinating Committee and shall include only those people living and working within that jurisdiction. Local Branches shall be known as the Workers Solidarity Alliance [geographical jurisdiction] Branch.

How many members does it take to constitute a Local Branch?
A Local Branch, states the WSA Constitution, is composed of not “less than three (3)

Members are to be responsible for regular dues payments as set forth by the organization.

New member applicants:

WSA has agreed that all new member “applicants will be accepted barring objections by the general membership, wherein a vote would occur. All applicants will have a 90 day collaborative period where the organization and the applicant will work together, determine our level of unity, and decide whether to take up membership, extend the collaborative period, or work together without membership to be decided by the branches.” This period may be waived for people who belong to affiliated groups (i.e., groups associated with the Class Struggle Anarchist Conference) or people that the local has already worked with for at least 90 days.

How does the Local Branch function?

A Local Branch shall be self-regulating and may determine their own structure so long as this is consistent with the principles and Constitution of the organization.

That said, for a Local Branch to be effective, it must be organized.

Internal Local Branch organization should consist of having a local Secretary. The branch secretary shall be the one who would keep notes and make reports to the WSA and convene meetings if they haven't been set in previous meetings.

Meetings should be held on a regular basis.

A meeting functions well when there is an Agenda. It is suggested that the meeting Agenda be written and circulated in advance of meeting.

Written Meeting Notes and Activity Reports are essential and should be taken. They should also be shared on a regular basis with other members of the WSA.

A local internal email list is suggested to enhance regular and frequent local communication.

A meeting of the Local Branch may only make decisions binding on the group if a quorum is present. A “quorum” is defined as a simple majority of all the current members of the Branch.

Internal democratic decision making is by majority vote when consensus cannot be reached.

Local Branches shall be able to determine their own dues and structure so long as this does not conflict with the payment of dues and the structure of the organization continentally.

Local Branches may divide at any time they so choose and shall decide between themselves new jurisdictions. The Coordinating Committee shall be promptly notified of such changes.

Local Branch Activities:

The activities of our Local Branches will vary from place to place. It is important for each Local

Branch to have fundamental knowledge of their geographical area, and all social movements and workers movements in that area.

When planning overall activities, a discussion on the positives, negatives, shortcomings, etc., should be had with an end goal of deciding what work to do and directing most of the locals time and resources into it. Local Branches should always take an honest stock of their human abilities to carry out its work and activities. Strategic planning and activities will only be successful when there is the commitment to fulfill the obligations needed to carry out the work.

Older members should make an effort to mentor newer members. Skill sharing should be circular with all members engaged in this process.

Periodic assessments of the Local Branch’s capabilities need to happen.

That said, there are certain internal and external fundamentals that each Local Branch should endeavor to engage in:

A. Internal Education.

“Study, reflection, and conversation” – Locals should read together and talk about ideas as we put them into practice—informing our theory—informing our practice. Locals should get together when possible around discussion documents and talk about them and see how they relate to their current organizing.

B. External Education.

Local Branches should hold external educationals as deemed practical. Such an educational can be on topical subjects, theoretical discussions, solidarity meetings and the like.

Our goals are to present a public face to our thinking on topics of the day, breaking down our theoretical views and acting in a manner that allows for a public discussion of the same. Our aim is to provide a public forum to present WSA views, to engage those not in the WSA, distribute literature and aim towards bringing others closer to the WSA.

An educational can serve as a forum for promoting strike support and other solidarity campaigns as well.

These educationals allow those not in the WSA to engage the WSA, to hear our views and, hopefully develop relations between ourselves and others.

C. Website and literature.

Where practical, Local Branches may want to consider their own website. This website should link to all relevant W.S.A. websites as well.

Each Local Branch should consider having some form of basic WSA local oriented literature, as well as a stock of W.S.A. literature.

A local newsletter would be ideal and can be made posted on-line in pdf. Format.

D. “Mass” work.

The lifeblood of any organization is the “mass work” that its members engage in. Local Branches should not be oriented excessively to symbolic protests or hopping about from the latest symbolic action.

WSA defines “mass work” as membership activities in the workplace and social struggles in our communities.

The Local Branch should try to evaluate its resources and work out some sort of long-term strategic plan.

It would be best if members were involved in some kind of organizing or active involvement that has some sort of long-term potential in terms of building links to people in a particular workplace, neighborhood, area of struggle etc. If they don't have the resources to initiate some mass organization themselves, they can get involved in organizations that do exist even if, from our point of view, they have various limitations, such as being bureaucratic, too liberal, etc..

The overall idea should be building a social base for our ideas in workplaces and in working class & oppressed communities in general, through building relationships in struggles, in mass organizations, etc..

Ideally, locals should be organizing together on some similar projects. Importantly, they should represent the organization and libertarian socialism well, be principled, but also be constant advocates for self-organization and movement autonomy (from political orgs, non-profits, reformist "leadership", etc.).

E. Building relationships.

Good relationships keep organizations together. Good relationships build productive and constructive ties with those outside our organization.

Internally, good and positive relations between comrades can enhance a well functioning Local Branch. They can also enhance the internal and external work of the Local Branch. Conversely, petty squabbles, personality clashes and a general negative attitude can be harmful to both internal development and external activities.

Externally, each WSA member is a representative of the organization. The way members conduct themselves is reflective of the whole organization. The aim of the WSA is to constructively engage others, if possible, win others to our point of view or simply allow for our point of view to be heard in a reasonable manner.

In mass organizations, good, positive and constructive relationships are absolutely key to our work and every effort to act in that manner and project that image is imperative.

Closing Comments.

We have tried to lay out what a "model" WSA Local Branch should be. That said, we recognize that conditions will vary from local to local. Some local branches may develop additional or supplemental approaches and policies which will help them function better.

In closing, this booklet is meant as a guide and not as a bible. Members can streamline or adjust things as appropriate. The most important thing is to be a functioning and functional local branch—one that contributes and enhances to the local membership work, and the work of the W.S.A. in general.


A number of comrades were consulted at one stage or another in the development of this document.

* W.S.A. Constitution, ** Where We Stand,