December DSA Dispatch

Last month, just in time for the holidays and heading into union contract negotiations, General Motors told almost 15,000 workers that they were no longer profitable enough for the company, while their CEO collects a salary of $22 million. In the Michigan and Wisconsin state houses, the Republicans pushed through anti-worker legislation before the newly elected folks took office. And in the borderlands, a dehydrated and hungry 7-year-old girl died after being neglected in ICE custody.

The list goes on, for we live in a time of monsters.

Yet it is also a time of hope.

8,000 Marriott hotel workers in eight cities just wrapped up their strike. San Francisco workers were the last to settle, winning better wages and benefits as well as sexual harassment protections. Teachers in Los Angeles, the second-largest public school district in the country, are preparing to strike. Almost 4,000 health care workers at the Kaiser system across California are on strike. Almost 100 teachers at the University of North Carolina struck against the school’s Silent Sam Confederate statue plans. And in Paris, worker and student mass mobilizations stopped a fossil fuel tax that would have hit the working class hard, then kept going until French President Macron raised the minimum wage and the “yellow vest” protests expanded to other countries.

Neoliberals pit working people against each other and against the planet, but we won’t be fooled. The capitalist class’s industrial polluters created this crisis, and we won’t let them force us to bear the brunt of solving it. And while we must watch how the international fascists handle these French protests — trying to claim credit or redirect the rage at immigrants — we must take to heart a key lesson: direct action gets the goods. Not the symbolic kind. Rather, the kind that shut down the economy.

What does this mean for our work? Build strong unions, for one. Build the working class power and militancy it will take to win energy democracy and a Green New Deal jobs program. Build the economic democracy that will ensure resilient communities and dignified lives that can’t be turned upside down by one corporate shill or finance bro’s decision. Legislation in Washington is important, the bully pulpit seized by our members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashia Tlaib is powerful, but it will take mass disruption to transform our society and economy.

How do we take things to the next level? I recommend we look at our history.

In 1936 workers at General Motors factories launched the famous Flint sit-down strike, refusing to leave for 44 days until their demands were met and they had built the United Auto Workers. More recently, workers at Republic Windows occupied their factory for five days in 2008, turning it into a worker owned cooperative called New Era Windows and inspiring a renaissance of organizing in Chicago.

Today, with the legacy of Bill Clinton’s NAFTA, the lies and fear mongering by Donald Trump, and the looming climate change crisis, our path is clear.

If we can unite ourselves around green jobs, energy democracy and international working class solidarity against a capitalist class that poisons and divides us, socialism and democracy will win!

National Updates

ONE: Staffing Changes

Hannah Allison will be leaving staff at the end of December to be a PhD student and teacher in American Studies at the University of Kansas. There she will organize in her American Federation of Teachers Local and fight the racist/sexist/capitalist university overlords. She’ll keep organizing as a member of her (soon-to-be) DSA chapter and get more involved with the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission.

Eric Wimer, our Electoral Field Organizer, will continue to support the National Electoral Committee. He will now also support chapters in the Northeast and California in a Field Organizer role.

I’m happy to announce two new staff as well!

Amy Zachmeyer will be joining staff as our newest Field Organizer, based in Houston. Amy is stepping back from her roles as co-chair of Houston DSA and national DSA Medicare for All campaign organizing committee member to bring us her experience from her work organizing with the Texas State Employees Union. Amy will work with DSA and YDSA chapters in the Southwest and Texas, the Plains and Midwest, while Anna Bonomo will work with chapters and OCs in Michigan.

Kristina Sepúlveda will be our new Operations Director starting January 2. Kristina has nine years political and non-profit experience and most recently ran operations for a national project using voter self-produced videos to move hundreds of thousands of voters to the polls.

TWO: Welcome Our New Local Groups

Please join me in celebrating these recently organized DSA groups!

New Chapters

  • Charleston, SC
  • Charlottesville, VA
  • Northeast TN

New Organizing Committees

  • Berkshires, MA
  • Erie, PA
  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • Lawrence, KS
  • Lancaster, PA
  • San Luis Obispo, CA
  • Walla Walla, WA

THREE: Convention Is Coming in 2019

We’re holding our national convention the first weekend of August in Atlanta! More information will be forthcoming in the new year about the organization-wide convention process.

But the first step is in February, March and April, when members across the country will meet in pre-convention regional conferences to discuss key political questions and attend trainings on convention-related topics as well as organizing skills. We’ll announce host chapters shortly.

FOUR: Regional Leadership Trainings Wrap Up

Our power at the base is the source of our strength. So throughout 2018, our intimate regional leadership trainings featured staff field organizers, host chapters, and national priorities committee representatives working together to build regional connections and organizing skills.

We designed trainings based on the needs of elected chapter leaders, to help them strengthen the overall work of their chapters and develop more capacity and leadership in other members. Training topics included Building a Healthy Working Class Organization, Strategic Campaign Design, Power Mapping, Coalition Building, Leadership Roles and Development, List Work, Organizing Conversations, Racial Justice and Socialist Feminism, Medicare for All, Electoral Power and Democratic Socialist Labor as well as regional interests.

As one Oklahoma chapter leader said, months after the training he attended, “Still energized by the training. It turned me around from burnout into developing so much more effectively.”

We trained over 500 chapter and organizing committee leaders at 14 sites throughout the country: Tacoma, WA; Sacramento, CA; Long Beach, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; Phoenix, AZ; Twin Cities, MN; Wichita, KS; Houston, TX; St. Louis, MO; Atlanta, GA; Columbus, OH; Portland, ME; Asheville, NC; and Orlando, FL.

FIVE: National Electoral Endorsements and 2018 Debrief

2019 Electoral Endorsement Applications are now open! All endorsements come through chapters, and your chapter can apply for national endorsements here. Even if your chapter will not be applying for a national endorsement for your locally endorsed candidate/ballot measure, please fill out this form whenever you endorse someone locally. This will help us support and amplify your work.

The deadline to apply is 10 weeks before your candidate/ballot measure’s election day, If you’re just hearing about the deadline now, still reach out. You can also ask Eric questions about electoral organizing at any time, especially if your chapter is considering electoral work in 2019.

The NEC will also be hosting a Cross-Chapter 2018 Electoral Review Call this Sunday, 12/16 at 5pm ET/4pm CT/3pm MT/2pm PST! Click here to register.

SIX: National Political Committee Updates

Jack Suria Linares of DSA Los Angeles was appointed to the NPC by the NPC to fill their final vacancy.

Minutes from the October 20 – 21 meeting in Los Angeles will be available soon. The next meeting will be January 26 – 27 in Philadelphia.

Onward!

Maria Svart
DSA National Director