DSA COVID-19 Bulletin #1: News and organizing updates during a global crisis

DSA COVID19 Bulletin

In This Issue

Organizing in Unprecedented Times

This is the first DSA COVID-19 Bulletin, a publication designed to keep DSA members and all working-class people informed about the evolving COVID-19 crisis and its political implications. We will be sending them several times a week. If you’d like to keep receiving them, sign up here, and share this link with your friends and comrades! Anyone can sign up.

During the pandemic, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is practicing social distancing for our members’ safety and to slow the spread of COVID-19.

As the largest socialist organization in the US, we believe it’s essential to start sharing information about what is going on in the world during these unprecedented times — the nature of the pandemic, the looming depression, the responses (or lack thereof) of our government, the deadly negligence and abuses of for-profit corporations, as well as the heroic organizing, resistance, and mutual aid by workers fighting for a working-class solution to the coronavirus pandemic. We also want to share ways that you can get involved in this fight.

Now is the time for solidarity.

There has never been a more important time to be in DSA. Join, renew your dues, or switch to monthly here.

An Evolving Crisis

The new coronavirus is here, and it is here to stay.

We won’t have a vaccine fully ready to deploy any time soon, meaning strict social distancing rules could continue for up to 18 months or more. The world is scrambling to “flatten the curve,” which is to say, slow the exponential spread of the coronavirus. If we fail in this effort, experts warn that up to 60% or more of the world’s population could be infected, resulting in tens of millions of deaths — on par with the casualties of the second world war. This week, cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in every U.S. state. With shortages in ventilators and other medical equipment necessary to treat the disease, we are about to witness our healthcare systems become overwhelmed (as might soon happen in Italy).

Beyond the healthcare crisis, we face an economic one. The measures being taken to confront COVID-19 are bringing much of the economy to a halt — squeezing both supply and demand. As consumption collapses and businesses go bankrupt, this is almost certain to cause a worse recession than any since the Great Depression. Already, one-fifth of workers report they have already lost their jobs or had hours reduced because of COVID. In addition to layoffs, many face evictions, steep medical bills, and denial of paid sick leave. Nearly 70% of Americans have little to no savings with which to ride this out.

Government (In)Action

After weeks of criminal inaction (although they had time to bail out Wall Street), Congress and the Trump administration have started taking measures to curb the illness’s spread. On Wednesday, Congress passed a wholly inadequate relief bill, and the Trump administration announced it would suspend evictions in HUD housing and, following the demands of the major national nurses union, invoked the Defense Production Act to redirect some private industry to produce urgently needed medical supplies. This is a good start, but it is not enough. We must call for an end to all evictions and mortgage payments, and even nationalize industries to respond to the crisis without letting companies profit from the pandemic.

Meanwhile leading Democrats, stuck in the same neoliberal solutions of the past fifty years, are letting the opportunity to push for sweeping and life-saving reforms go by.

In Europe, Denmark announced that their government will pay laid off workers 75% of their salaries, and Spain will nationalize hospitals. In Asia, governments in Hong Kong and Singapore took swift action to contain the spread of the virus, resulting in some of the most successful containment in the world. The US government should follow this aggressive and humane response, instead of continuing down the path of pandemic profiteering. And we need Medicare for All now.

Workers Strike Back

Workers across the world are fighting back in order to keep workers safe and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Rank-and-file teachers in New York City pressured their union and the school district to close with the threat of a wildcat strike. Autoworkers in Michigan forced the Big Three auto companies to close with their own wildcat strikes. Detroit bus drivers struck for health and safety, and won huge concessions, including free fares for riders (meaning no one will have to handle money). This follows strikes in Italy.

For workers who are deemed essential, such as UPS drivers and healthcare workers, organizing is necessary in order to get even basic safety provisions like masks and disinfecting wipes.

Whether or not you are in a union, you can start organizing your workplace. A group of union members and workplace organizers with the Democratic Socialists of America can help you start a petition, connect with other workers, approach management, and successfully organize during this moment of crisis. Click here to get in touch with an organizer.

Bernie 2020 and the Fight for Democracy

Hellbent on coronating Joe Biden, the Democratic Party has continued its primaries even as public health officials begged the public to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

Chaos and dangerously close quarters reigned in working-class polling sites in Chicago. Large groups, including many seniors, congregated for hours waiting to vote. Some voters told observers they left before voting because they feared for their health, and some precincts were denied ballots altogether. Several states saw significant decreases in votes cast in Tuesday’s Democratic primary compared to 2016. Ohio delayed its Democratic primary to help slow the spread of the virus, but the Democratic Party has said it will penalize states who follow suit.

Despite losing badly in virtually illegitimate primary elections on Tuesday, Sanders has so far refused to drop out of the race. Instead he is still fighting for a political revolution. The movement for Sanders and his platform will be essential to the fightback during the coronavirus crisis against corporate profiteering and genocidal negligence of the U.S. government.

DSA ANNOUNCEMENTS:


How’s it going out there? We want to hear about your mutual aid efforts, organizing wins, and how you’re taking care of one another and avoiding despair. We’ll be featuring stories from chapters across the country — submit your stories!

This is the first DSA COVID-19 Bulletin. We will be sending them several times a week. If you’d like to keep receiving them, sign up here, and share this link with your friends and comrades! Anyone can sign up.

Global health crisis, economic collapse, and a democracy in peril. It’s hard to imagine a better time to join the largest socialist organization in America. Join us.