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Mission & History

 

Our mission as a national drug users union is evolving, collectively determined by mission and vision calls with membership which are part of a three year participatory process to create a formalized governance structure. Our goals are to give people who use and sell drugs and people in the sex trade the resources they need to not only survive but thrive through racist drug and so-called “anti-trafficking” wars, nurturing fellow drug user and sex worker brilliance and achievement. We have always been anti-capitalists along with prison and police abolitionists, focused on radical change rather than concessionary reforms, connecting to broader movements against criminalization and oppression. Our internal model reflects this: we are constantly working to reshape hierarchy in our organization, using a team-based, feminist system in which those multiply marginalized as criminalized Black and Indigenous people are centered. Ultimately, our mission is to end the drug war and the criminalization of sex work, decriminalizing the underground economies which have allowed us to survive the violence of capitalism. 


We’re perhaps the only national drug users union which also explicitly includes not only drug sellers but also sex workers as members impacted by the war on drugs, which intersects and expands into the war on trafficking, a gargantuan state apparatus controlling and doing violence upon multiply marginalized people. After SESTA/FOSTA’s passage in 2018, we acted quickly in solidarity with sex workers, offering relevant, tangible support. Sex workers, sex workers’ rights projects, and the USU sex worker organizing group have been an integral part of the union ever since.


We achieve our mission and vision by organizing and mobilizing, bringing a message of love, acceptance, and pride to our fellow drug users and sex workers. Our union acts to build coalitions and connect the voices of directly impacted people on the ground to professionals in harm reduction, holding the increasingly professionalized harm reduction movement accountable. Since early on, we’ve enacted innovative community building through technology, using our varied and frequent national calls for empowerment and skills-building for our union representatives and call participants. We’ve created an interactive community through our calls and Basecamp platform, creating solidarity between different groups. We invert the hierarchy found in other harm reduction organizations: drug users lead our union while harm reductionist professionals serve only in an advisory capacity on our “reverse advisory circle.”