Solidarity Records, 1986-1997

Summary Information
Title: Solidarity Records
Inclusive Dates: 1986-1997

  • Solidarity (Organization : Detroit, Mich.)
Call Number: Mss 946

Quantity: 4.0 c.f. (10 archives boxes)

Archival Locations:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

The records of Solidarity, 1986-1997, document an independent socialist organization founded in 1986, dedicated to a regrouping of the U.S. socialist left. Solidarity's aims are to organize the unorganized, develop ties between movements, strengthen rank-and-file democracy and build international worker-to-worker links. To accomplish these aims they have supported: labor unions against corporations and “business unionism”; the peoples of many countries, particularly Central America, Indonesia and Palestine, against U.S. aggression and imperialism; reproductive rights and other feminist interests; an ecologically balanced society; and gay rights. They oppose the mainstream political parties and promote the idea of an independent political party whose agenda is determined by its members. The records, spanning the years 1986-1997 (primarily 1986-1992), provide an understanding of the scope of Solidarity as an organization, documenting its formative years, organizational development and growth, and the activities and issues of concern to the membership and leadership. The records also offer insight into the socialist regrouping effort in the U.S. during the late 1980s and into the 1990s.


There is a restriction on access to and use of this material; see the Administrative/Restriction Information portion of this finding aid for details.

Language: English

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Solidarity is an independent socialist organization founded in 1986, with a commitment to regrouping the revolutionary socialist left, which at the time was fragmented into many disparate groups, all with varying political and organizational perspectives. Solidarity sought to outline the general principles of revolutionary socialism in a U.S. context. They saw their political perspective as fluid, able to ebb and flow in debate over issues. The organization never sought to fuse all the fragmentary groups into Solidarity, but rather to develop coalitions with them and amongst them, working at a grassroots level for social change.

The organizational structure of Solidarity could be viewed as consisting of membership and leadership components, with the national staff providing a uniting element. Solidarity membership consists of activists from many long-standing socialist traditions, as well as younger members from newer movements. They are socialist, feminist, anti-racist, and democratic.

The early membership consisted of dues paying branch members and sympathizers. In 1987, Solidarity had 5 main branches, 222 members and 41 sympathizers throughout the country. The branches were and are the basic organizational unit of Solidarity. They work within a framework set by Solidarity but are self-governing with respect to their activity. The Madison, Wisconsin branch of Solidarity, for a time, was organized by Roger Horowitz. Mr. Horowitz was a member of the Solidarity National Committee (1986-1992), the Political Committee (1986-1991), and at various times, held posts as financial officer, staffing committee chair, and chair of the Nominations Commission. Although a member of Solidarity, he was also a member of the local socialist group, The Collective for Socialist and Feminist Alternatives, which was a member group of Solidarity.

Sympathizers are part of the membership, but choose not to enter into full membership with Solidarity. Often they belong to socialist groups which are also not members of Solidarity, but which work in coalition with them. Sympathizers are welcome to the materials produced by Solidarity and can come to the annual Solidarity National Convention (SNC), but cannot participate in the decision-making process. The SNC, as the highest national body of the organization, represents the entire organization and sets the political agenda and elects the national leadership committees. Other organizations are sent invitations to the SNC to foster regrouping among socialist organizations. By the 1990s, membership was expanded to include members-at-large. They were individuals who joined Solidarity but lived in an area where there was no branch. These future branches, known as “twigs,” consisted of a smaller cluster of at-large members who did not meet regularly, but maintained contact through the national office or Solidarity publications.

The early leadership consisted of the policy-making National Committee, Coordinating Committee, and Commissions, which were assigned to work on specific areas of interest to the organization. The National Committee (NC), a body of elected members, was convened at the first SNC in 1986. They were assigned the responsibility of setting political policies and the national budget; discussing and launching national campaigns, political discussions and debates; and reviewing articles for publication in Solidarity Discussion Bulletins and other publications. They were also empowered to bring in new member groups to expand the policy of regroupment and oversaw the work and composition of the Coordinating Committee and Commissions. By the 1990s, the NC was also assigned discussing political work with membership Work Groups, and discussing priorities and local activities with branches.

The Coordinating Committee (CC) consisted of NC members, charged with developing and implementing organizational integrity and outreach. They dealt with organizational problems, kept up regular communications with branches, and oversaw the production of Discussion Bulletins, coordinated marches, tours, and other outreach events. By late 1987, the duties of the Coordinating Committee were incorporated into the duties of the newly established Political Committee.

The Political Committee (PC) is the engine of the organization; its duties, in addition to those inherited from the CC, include setting policy for actions and preparing the agenda for NC meetings. With the revision of the Solidarity constitution in 1989, the responsibilities of the PC were expanded to include: implement and follow up on policies, decisions, motions and resolutions made by the SNC and the NC; monitor, develop and evaluate the infrastructure of Solidarity, such as staff, finances, publications, and national education programs; organize and initiate political discussions of key issues and practices facing the organization; and assist in shaping the political perspectives and work of the branches.

Commissions were originally created to coordinate work on high priority issues, and to develop perspectives and activities for the subdivisions of the organization (e.g. Fractions, Caucuses, Work Groups), based on the area of work or constituency. At the 1987 SNC, the Constitution, Labor, International Solidarity, Feminist, Oppressed Nationalities, and Political Education Commissions were all authorized by the NC. By the 1990s, the Commissions' work was divided between those issues of high priority, those that could benefit from further investigation, and those that could be developed into proposals for action. The number of Commissions continued to expand throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, with additions as diverse as the Finance Commission and the Environmental Commission.

The national staff has always been responsible for maintaining organizational cohesion. They work as liaisons among the leadership bodies and between the leadership and membership of Solidarity. They are hired, take assignments from, and are accountable to the PC, although one of their main duties is to implement the decisions of SNC, NC and PC. The staff has fluctuated over the years due to organizational financial hardship, occasionally operating the national office with only half the workforce needed to accomplish their assignments. The national staff in the later 1990s stabilized and presently assists the organization's 36 branches, over 1000 members, and various leadership and membership bodies. Their outreach endeavors have expanded to include the use of a Solidarity website, through which they continue their discussions, debates and actions on issues pertinent to U.S. socialism.

Scope and Content Note

The Solidarity records (1986-1997) consist of the founding documents of the organization; the minutes of the policymaking National Committee; records of various organizational meetings; subject files on special focus issues; and diverse organizational writings. The records primarily document the years 1986-1992, starting with the formative years of Solidarity, its organizational development, the issues and activities of interest to the membership, and writings the organization produced to promote those issues and activities. In their totality the records provide an understanding of the scope of Solidarity as an organization, its development, activities, and also insight into the socialist regroupment efforts in the U.S. during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The majority of the records were brought together by Roger Horowitz during his tenure (1986-1992) on the National Committee, Political Committee and Nominations Commission. Since he was a Wisconsin member of the leadership, there is an emphasis within the collection on issues pertaining to the state. The records provide a decade-long look at the administration and functions of the organization from the perspective of the Solidarity leadership. The collection does lack a substantive membership perspective, with few records documenting membership participation in Fractions, Caucuses and Work Groups, although there are isolated glimpses within branch reports found in the minutes of the National Committee, Political Committee, and Discussion Bulletins.

The FOUNDING DOCUMENTS (1986-1987) of Solidarity contain materials relating to the formation and implementation of policy, specifically the organization's founding statement and structural principles drafted at the 1986 Founding Convention and approved at the 1987 Solidarity National Convention (SNC). These records document the early development of the organization, its views on membership, leadership, and the duties of each in the structure and order of the organization. Some of the structural principles were amended in the 1989 constitution, passed at the 1989 SNC.

The MINUTES (1989-1997) of the National Committee contain organizational, financial, and leadership reports, and motions on discussion issues with supporting articles. The minutes are a synopsis of the issues before the organization, and the actions and activities decided upon by this highest ranking, policy making committee of Solidarity leadership. The minutes are arranged chronologically, and are missing the formative years, 1986-88.

The ORGANIZATIONAL MEETINGS files (1986-1996) consist of the documentation of the meetings of the National Committee, Coordinating Committee, Political Committee, Commissions, and Conventions. Although this is the largest portion of the collection and the most informative regarding the organization's internal and external activities and concerns, the series lacks breadth, in that the representative leadership Committees and Commissions are only a fraction of those within Solidarity. There is also a gap in the record between 1992 and 1996.

The National Committee subseries (1986-1992) documents issues before the Committee, consisting of both internal politics and external activities. Each file contains an agenda for the meeting, update mailings from the national office or members of the Committee along with supporting articles and materials, and handwritten notes by Roger Horowitz in his capacity as a committee member. Early issues of particular interest are those dealing with the staffing of the national office, dual membership, political action via endorsement of political candidates, and the issue of the Wisconsin Labor-Farm Party campaign. By the 1990s, the external focus was on reproductive rights, anti-racism, East Europe/Soviet Union socialism, and the Gulf Crisis and anti-war movement. Internally, the organization was attempting to expand while dealing with financial hardship. The files are arranged chronologically.

The Coordinating Committee subseries (1986-1987) documents the two-year existence of this committee, whose duties were incorporated into the Political Committee upon its establishment in 1987. The files consist of minutes, memoranda from the national staff, and update mailings with supporting reports, articles and flyers, mostly concerned with establishing branches nationwide, appointing commission members and national office staff. Of particular interest is the Committee's role in preparing for the 1987 SNC, with discussion of budget and agenda and collection of dues from membership. The two files are arranged chronologically, each covering a single year.

The Political Committee subseries (1987-1992) documents the activities of this politically authoritative leadership body. The files consist of agendas, minutes (both handwritten by Mr. Horowitz and typed by the national staff), correspondence among Committee members, NC members and staff, update mailings with supporting documentation, and handwritten notes of the meetings by Mr. Horowitz. The focus of each meeting varied as subjects of interest changed, but branch, Commission and student reports, preparation for upcoming SNCs, and internal organizational issues were always on the agenda. Of particular interest is the beginning of Solidarity's work with environmental movements, specifically the Left Greens, and internal issues centered around editorial decisions for the growing publications of Solidarity, concern over the cohesion of the organization, and the continuing financial hardship of the organization impacting the national office. The files are arranged chronologically by year and month.

The Commissions subseries (1986-1992) documents the Labor, Youth/Student, and Nominations Commissions. These records are a scant representation of the many Commissions within Solidarity and only document a year or so of a Commission's work. The Labor Commission file documents only the first year, 1986, of this long standing Commission. It contains information about labor issues and how the Commission coordinated this high priority work, planned labor retreats and prepared for labor workshops at the SNC. The Youth/Student Commission file documents the Commission's formative years, 1988-1989, coordinating the work of the Youth/Student Fraction. The records include some of the coordinating committee and steering committee minutes of the Fraction and correspondence between these committee members and the members of the Commission. The Nominations Commission file consists of only the 1992 records; the year Roger Horowitz was the chair. It contains reports, correspondence between Commission members, and Mr. Horowitz's handwritten notes on the compilation of the proposed slate for the NC and PC.

The Conventions files (1986-1996) document the workshops, panel discussions, caucus and fraction meetings, plenaries, motions and resolutions of this annual Solidarity meeting. The records include preconvention announcements and mailings, memoranda from the PC and NC with preparatory materials, and numerous handwritten motions and minutes of convention plenaries. Major issues to be voted on are published in the Discussion Bulletin preconvention series, and are echoed throughout the PC and NC meeting files. Highlights of this file are the 1989 SNC at which the Solidarity constitution was amended and Summer Schools were established following each SNC. The files are arranged chronologically with the years 1991, 1993 and 1995 missing from the record.

The SPECIAL FOCUS ISSUES files (1986-1991) consist of subject files on issues that were intensely discussed and debated by both the membership and leadership bodies of Solidarity. The documents consist of articles and reports dealing with the subject matter, and correspondence among leadership and membership debating and discussing the issues. The four special focus issues are representative of the work of the organization; from the macro view of the Fourth International Caucus, which dealt with the global view of socialism, to the micro view of the Milwaukee Revolutionary Socialist Group, which was part of the loosely based coalition between Solidarity and other national socialist groups. The subject file of the Oakland School Board Debate reveals the internal national political development of Solidarity, while the Anti-Racism file demonstrates one of the consistent external issues before the organization.

The ORGANIZATIONAL WRITINGS (1986-1997) consist of Discussion Papers, Pamphlets, Working Papers, and Discussion Bulletins. This is the second largest series in the collection, complementing the series preceding it. The organizational writings echo the discussions, debates, actions, and activities of the organization from its formative years in the late 1980s through the 1990s. Solidarity put much of its effort into the production and publication of these writings; to keep the diverse membership informed of both external and internal issues and happenings of the organization.

The Discussion Papers (1990-1991), Pamphlets (1992-1997), and Working Papers (1995-1997) contain select examples of writings by various members of Solidarity specifically tailored to issues that would engage dialogue and debate leading to a revitalization of U.S. socialism. They were produced for impact in promoting response internally and externally on these high priority topics and are a wealth of information on the issues that occupied Solidarity during the 1990s. All the writings were modifications of articles either presented at the SNC or from “Against The Current,” a socialist bimonthly publication of news, analysis and dialogue sponsored by Solidarity.

Discussion Bulletins (1986-1997) are yet another vehicle for discussion by the membership and interested parties, containing minutes of various leadership bodies and information on topics of interest. They were also used as newsletters reporting on the activities of Solidarity, particularly reports on the SNC and branch activities. These writings consist of General Topic editions which mirror the discussions and debates of the NC and PC, the Preconvention editions reflect issues before the SNC, and the Special Issue editions echo the subject files on issues of special focus. The Youth/Student Discussion Bulletins and Youth/Student Preconvention Discussion Bulletins are the product of the Y/S movement within Solidarity, intended to expand youth membership in the organization. They contain minutes of the Y/S Fraction, reports from branches with a youth concentration, and articles and papers to promote discussion on issues of concern to youth. The Discussion Bulletins are arranged chronologically within each subset.

Administrative/Restriction Information
Access Restrictions

National Committee Meeting minutes are closed to research until January 1, 2045, without the written permission of the Solidarity National Committee.

Use Restrictions

Literary rights are retained by the Solidarity National Committee until January 1, 2045.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Roger Horowitz, former member of the Solidarity National and Political Committees and former chair of the Nominations Commission of Solidarity, Wilmington, Delaware, 1997; and Joanna Minsnik, member of the Solidarity National Committee, Detroit, Michigan, 1994 and 1997. Accession Number: M2000-079, M94-323, M97-015

Processing Information

Processed by Anna V. Uremovich, May, 2000.

Contents List
Box   1
Folder   1
Series: Founding Documents, 1986-1987
Box   2
Folder   1-9
Series: National Committee Minutes, 1989-1997
Access Restrictions: National Committee Meeting minutes closed to research until January 1, 2045, without the written permission of the Solidarity National Committee.
Series: Organizational Meetings
Box   1
Folder   2-14
National Committee, 1986-1992
Box   3
Folder   1-2
Coordinating Committee, 1986-1987
Political Committee
Box   3
Folder   3-14
Box   4
Folder   1-9
1989-May, 1990
Box   5
Folder   1-19
July, 1990-June, 1992
Box   5
Folder   20
Box   6
Folder   1
Labor Commission, 1986
Box   6
Folder   2
Youth/Student Commission, 1988-1989
Box   6
Folder   3
Nominations Commission, 1992
Box   6
Folder   4
Box   6
Folder   5
Box   6
Folder   6
Box   6
Folder   7
Box   6
Folder   8
Box   6
Folder   9
Box   6
Folder   10
Series: Special Focus Issues
Box   6
Folder   11
Fourth International Caucus, 1986-1992
Box   6
Folder   12
Oakland School Board Race Debate, 1987-1988
Box   6
Folder   13
Anti-Racism and the Presidential Election, 1988-1990
Box   6
Folder   14
Milwaukee Revolutionary Socialist Group (MRSG), 1991
Series: Organizational Writings
Box   6
Folder   15
Discussion Papers, 1990-1991
Box   6
Folder   16
Pamphlets, 1992-1997
Box   6
Folder   17
Working Papers, 1995-1996
Discussion Bulletins
General topics
Box   7
Folder   1-6
Box   8
Folder   1-4
1992-January-October, 1995
Box   9
Folder   1-3
November-December, 1995-January-February, 1997
Box   9
Folder   4-6
Box   10
Folder   1-3
Special Issues
Box   10
Folder   4
Oakland School Board Campaign, August, 1987
Box   10
Folder   5
Palestine, July-August, 1988
Box   10
Folder   6
Labor, November, 1988
Box   10
Folder   7
Socialist, the Unions and the Rank and File Movement, November, 1992
Box   10
Folder   8
Health Care Primer, December, 1993
Box   10
Folder   9
Haiti Solidarity Work and Structural Adjustment, April, 1996
Box   10
Folder   9
Labor Party Advocates Convention in Cleveland, April, 1996
Box   10
Folder   10-11
Youth/Student, 1988-1990
Box   10
Folder   12
Youth/Student Pre-Convention, 1989
Appendix: Glossary of Acronyms
ACT NOW AIDS Coalition to Network, Organize and Win
ASA Alliance for Socialist Action
ATC Against The Current
BWFJ Black Workers For Justice
CAN Community Awareness Network
CISPES US Committee in Solidarity with the Peoples of El Salvador
CSFA Collective for Socialist and Feminist Alternatives
CPUSA Communist Party of the USA
DC SCAR D.C. Student Coalition Against Apartheid and Racism
DSA Democratic Socialist America
ECCA Evanston Committee on Central America
FI Fourth International
FIC Fourth International Caucus
FIT Fourth Internationalist Tendency
IEC International Executive Committee (of the Fourth International)
IPA Independent Political Action
IS International Socialists
LFAC Labor Fraction Administrative Committee
LGN Left Green Network
LN Labor Notes
LPA Labor Party Advocates
MCHR Michigan Coalition for Human Rights
NAVA New African Voices Alliance
NC National Committee
NCIPA National Committee for Independent Political Action
ND New Directions
NOW National Organization for Women
NP New Party
PC Political Committee
PHRC Palestine Human Rights Campaign
PRT Mexican Partido Revoluntionario de los Trabajadores
PSN Progressive Student Network
RSL Revolutionary Socialist League
SDS San Diego Solidarity (branch)
SNC Solidarity National Convention
SP Socialist Party
SU Socialist Unity
SWP Socialist Workers Party
TDU Teamsters for a Democratic Union
UCAR United Coalition Against Racism
WP Workers Power