DSAers Show Solidarity

We have a special issue of Democratic Left devoted to labor once a year, but DSA locals support unions and the labor movement all year long. Here are some highlights from the past year:

Central Ohio DSA members joined forces with Interfaith Worker Justice to create the Central Ohio Workers’ Center. Members of DSA were key in doing the paperwork to obtain 501(c)(3) status and bringing in a pro bono lawyer. The center’s focus is on know-your-rights outreach to immigrant workers, especially the large Somali community as well as the growing Latino community.

Chicago DSA has fought for a national tax on the trading of financial assets (popularly known as a Robin Hood Tax) and worked with the Chicago Teachers Union, National Nurses United, and community groups to call for a similar Chicago-based tax to fund workers’ pensions as well as human services. Other coalitions are fighting newly elected governor Bruce Rauner’s anti-worker “Turnaround Agenda” modeled after Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s game plan. As a core member of the Illinois Fair Trade Coalition, Chicago DSA worked with many union partners to oppose Fast Track and the larger Trans Pacific Partnership.

Greater Detroit DSA works with Michigan labor to prevent the Republicans, who dominate state government, from overturning prevailing-wage legislation. To support prevailing wages, the local honored Patrick Devlin, president of the Michigan Building Trades, at the Douglass-Debs dinner on May 30.

Ithaca DSA has a weekly community access cable television program and a bi-monthly radio program. The local used both platforms to bring talks from the Labor Day Picnic, a Workers’ Center celebration, and Cornell University’s Union Days to a wider audience. Thus, community members who couldn’t attend the events still heard about innovative organizing for restaurant and retail workers, the new union at the local Health Alliance and Free Clinic, organizing among adjuncts at Ithaca College, and the story of the AFL-CIO’s vital cooperation with community and clergy.

Atlanta_minimum_wage_demo.jpg

Metro Atlanta DSA is actively involved with all the work of the Jobs with Justice Organizing Committee, including the Black Friday action at Wal-Mart, a national event on the Friday after Thanksgiving. A core DSA group of around 25 people joined with organized labor and community in the Fight for $15 campaign. On several days, including April 15, fast-food workers went out on strike in the early morning, and the demonstrators showed up to escort them back to work and ensure that they would not lose their jobs.

Metro DC DSA supported the DC Labor Fest. The DC Labor Fest—sponsored by the Metro Washington Labor Council and supported by many other labor and social justice organizations—provides a forum for numerous forms of cultural productions with a focus on working people. The films, music, art and walking tours open a window on the experiences, ideas and aspirations of individual workers and their collective struggles. Metro DC also supported efforts to organize associates at United Way Worldwide, headquarters of the largest health and human services non-profit in the world not run by a government. Despite a formal agreement to support the labor rights of workers and a long partnership with labor, management conducted a vicious anti-union campaign against the effort.

New York City DSA and YDS rallied for the “Fight for $15” and sponsored a staged reading of “Waiting for Lefty” in the theater district on April 15. YDS members from throughout the city worked with activists from several schools to prepare banners for the demonstration and to mobilize their classmates.

Sacramento DSA teamed up with the Sacramento Progressive Alliance, the California Faculty Association, Students for Quality Education, and the Campus Progressive Alliance to present a forum on “The Working Class Under Siege,” bringing the Fight for $15 and the struggle against Fast Track to California State University-Sacramento.

San Diego DSA worked with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Labor Council, the Machinists and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) to get a citywide increase in the minimum wage passed by the City Council. Unfortunately, opponents derailed the coalition’s victory by successfully challenging the City Council to put the wage increase on a ballot initiative for November 2016, thus delaying and perhaps endangering the increase for workers. San Diego DSAers also joined with the Citizens Trade Campaign and the San Diego Imperial County Labor Council to urge congressional representatives to vote no on Fast Track.

Theresa Alt is secretary of Ithaca DSA and a member of the DSA National Political Committee. Peg Strobel is a member of Chicago DSA and the DSA National Political Committee, former director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, and professor emerita of gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

 

This article originally appeared in the fall 2015 issue of the Democratic Left magazine.

 

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

 

DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

May 25, 2017
· 33 rsvps

Join DSA's Queer Socialists Working Group to discuss possible activities for the group and its proposed structure. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.

 

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
· 40 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 92 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 26 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
· 5 rsvps

Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Bill Barclay, chocolatehouse@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 7 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 5 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.