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Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct for the WDA

Revised: July 4, 2020

All members in all organizational positions must be held to the same standards, as laid out in this document.

1. Purpose

We, the Workers Defense Alliance, need the participation of every part of the working class. In particular, we prioritize the participation of workers who are marginalized under capitalism and colonialism, including but not limited to: Black/Indigenous/People of Color, queer and trans people, neuroatypical people, people with physical disabilities, and women.

We respect, appreciate, and draw strength from our different experiences and backgrounds. We affirm our common goals as workers.

Our code of conduct is intended to help us work together effectively by treating each other with respect and compassion, and setting expectations for what that looks like.

2. Creating Safer Spaces

Stopping harassment is an important step to creating safer spaces. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, educational background, physical appearance, and body size. Additionally, harassment can include inappropriately sexual images in shared spaces, unwelcome sexual attention, and inappropriate/unwanted physical contact.

Other kinds of inappropriate behavior include stalking or persistent following, harassing photography or recording, unwelcome spreading of personal/private information, badgering or sustained disruption of events, deliberate intimidation, openly carrying weapons at inappropriate times, theft, and assault.

3. Supporting the Organization and Its Members

  • We strive to make all of our spaces, such as meetings, political or social events, offices, communications platforms, and digital spaces into safer spaces.
  • We agree not to participate in any form of repression of our organization or of our fellow members, whether this comes from the state, from a landlord, or from an employer.
  • We agree not to deliberately or negligently take actions that may put the organization or its members at risk without informed, enthusiastic consent, especially via approval at a meeting.
  • We agree to provide mutual aid and tangible solidarity to each other when possible, to the best of our ability.
  • We agree to listen first to those who are directly affected by a topic.
  • We agree to create spaces where the marginalized have stronger voices, and therefore we all take personal and collective responsibility for helping encourage and elevate those voices.
  • We agree to be on time and prepared for events in order to respect the work done by others in organizing these events, and in order to respect the time limitations that others may have in their day.
  • We agree to observe time limits when speaking, avoid interrupting, and remain on topic to be respectful to each other.
  • We agree to be aware of and responsible for: (1) how much space we take up; (2) how much or how little we speak; and (3) to “step up” if we are not contributing, or “step back” if we have already contributed a lot.

4. Consequences of Misconduct

If someone:

  • makes another group member feel unsafe;
  • is perceived as dangerous to organize with (for example, employs tactics that make those organizing with them unsafe without their consent, disregards the opinions of others, gaslights, etc.);
  • participates in meetings in ways that discourage or prevent the participation of others, or disrupts the work of the meeting;
  • or otherwise breaks this code of conduct,

they may be asked to step back for a period of time, asked to respect certain limits/boundaries (such as avoiding certain places or individuals), or even be banned from the organization. In some cases, this may be applicable to groups of people or working groups. We may do any of this in any order, as conditions demand.

In general we subscribe to transformative principles of justice, acknowledging the work that Indigenous, Black, and queer communities have been doing for years. Rather than being legalistic and prescriptive about protocols and consequences, we trust the membership to make judicious decisions that make sense in-context for achieving justice while remaining true to the principles of the group. If a member can be transformed without leaving the organization, that would likely be a preferred result. This is not always possible - diverting organizational resources to transforming someone who should not or cannot remain destroys power rather than builds it.

Transformative justice requires a holistic approach, taking into consideration the entirety of a situation, including the positioning of individuals within the group and other dynamics. We understand that sometimes concepts of safety can be informed by oppressive ideas and structures, though will always listen to those who assert harm has been felt and will not engage in “victim-blaming.” However, a holistic approach implies that a simple binary of “harm-doer”/”harmed” may not be a sufficient or appropriate lens for addressing conflict and harm done in a particular situation. Especially in cases of mutual abuse or harm-doing, individuals may be referred to mediation inside or outside the organization as part of a justice-seeking process.

We have a duty to support both our members and our work. For us to accomplish this, sometimes a member may need to stand down in some or all of our organization. By removing a person from membership, we do not presume to judge their worth as a human being, or whether they are in fact guilty of any particular offense. Removal simply means that we choose not to work with that person. No one has a guaranteed right to associate with us.

Removal may or may not be permanent. Circumstances permitting, if an individual shows they have grown in significant, demonstrated ways that address the root causes of previous poor behavior, they be petitioned for reinstatement to the organization by another member.

5. Processes for Misconduct

If you feel like this code of conduct isn’t being followed, we would all like to know about it. If you are comfortable referencing this code, please feel free to do so in any of our common spaces. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, please feel free to bring this up privately to an elected officer or event leader, or have a friend do so for you. We will ensure that you remain anonymous unless you request otherwise, and we will seek to rectify the situation.

If you feel like this code of conduct is being repeatedly violated or has been violated in a serious and destructive manner, members have a right and a responsibility to engage with the broader membership that are affected about harm and what justice looks like to them within a reasonable time frame. This may be done through formal or informal means, though we encourage people to find support from people close to them to help best illustrate what this might look like.

If a decision needs to be made to protect members from further harm, a motion may be made at a meeting to democratically decide how to deal with the situation. Alternatively, conflict mediators may be elected to help clarify and resolve issues. Conflict navigators may also be elected to help discuss and summarize events so that members can make informed decisions. Membership will vote on attainably specific and enforceable consequences in time and space. Since there is no one size fits all process to conflict and abuse, we will make no further recommendations or prescriptions for this process.

Further Reading

Conflict is not Abuse

Creative Interventions Toolkit - A Practical Guide to Stop Interpersonal Violence