The DSA COVID-19 Bulletin is designed to keep DSA members and all working-class people informed about the evolving COVID-19 crisis and its political implications. If you’d like to get the DSA COVID-19 Bulletin by email, sign up here, and share this link with your friends and comrades! Anyone can sign up. New bulletins come out several times a week.
In This Issue
- Workers Have the Power to Defeat the Virus
- The Evolving Crisis
- Workers Strike Back
- Government (In)Action
- DSA Announcements: Organize a COVID-19 Workplace Response, Mutual Aid Support, Collaborative Resources Doc, Sign our COVID-19 Petition
Workers Have the Power to Defeat the Virus
These are scary times. The United States still won’t shut down unnecessary business, New York City is now a global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in Italy nearly 800 people died in a single day. The progress of the outbreak in Italy is estimated to be only about a week more advanced than in the United States. The number of U.S. deaths is currently doubling every 3 days.
But working-class organizing is exploding. For many workers the choice is clear: organize or die.
Under normal circumstances we make our society run: growing food, teaching children, delivering packages, and caring for the sick. Despite lockdowns, workers deemed essential must still show up for work. Capitalists do none of this labor — but profit from paying as little as they can for it. This crisis reveals just how valuable and crucial our labor is.
All over the world, workers are not only saving lives and feeding families; they are also fighting back against pandemic profiteering pushing governments to act. Despite social distancing, workers still have the power to change the world.
The Evolving Crisis
The pandemic is making us reexamine our entire public health infrastructure. Because taking on COVID-19 patients is not a profitable endeavor, hospitals across the country are on the brink of shuttering. They are requesting billions more in bailout money. Meanwhile, nurses are at the highest risk of contracting the new coronavirus, given that many are operating without personal protective gear (PPE). Mutual aid is helping fill gaps in the for-profit healthcare system.
The economic crash affects everyone. Essential sectors are still scrambling to meet surging demand. Grocery chains are hiring in the tens of thousands. Short term rentals through AirBnB have tanked so steeply that owners may be forced to rent properties long term, which might lower rents overall in some cities.
Workers Strike Back
Politicians are using the crisis as cover for busting public-sector unions. Trump is putting the Janus ruling on steroids, and the National Labor Relations Board is suspending union elections. California made moves to suspend its state collective bargaining laws. But workers have their priorities straight. Instead of waiting for government action, they are organizing in their unions to demand the protections they need.
As “terrified” logistics workers have been going into work sick, Teamsters at UPS won an expanded sick leave policy while locals continue to fight unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
Grocery store workers at Shoppers, Safeway, and H-E-B organized for and won hazard pay, and a raise for working in dangerous conditions.
Bus operators in the Bay Area are following the lead of their fellow transit workers in Detroit, winning rear-door boarding and free fare for riders.
ICE detention centers are especially dangerous now. Some detainees have gone on hunger strike to protest filthy conditions. With inspiring creativity, protesters from California to New Jersey around the country are circling governors’ mansions and detention centers with their cars (and horns) to demand detainees be released.
DSA members are helping hundreds of workers organize and fight for demands like paid time off, protections at work, and workplace safety. If you need help organizing your workplace, please fill out this form and an organizer will contact you.
A Sunday report from the New York Times details the dramatic, rapid action needed in the country to stem the pandemic and reduce the mortality rate. But so far that isn’t happening, and every day of delay means more lost lives.
The ruling elites “do not fundamentally care if we live or die.” Italy had close to 800 deaths on Saturday despite their new lock-down efforts because they waited too long to act. Some say that if the U.S. wants to avoid Italy’s mistake and save lives, we must enforce a complete 5-week shut-down of non-essential businesses, with full compensation for all affected workers.
Congresswoman and DSA member Rashida Tlaib unveiled a bill to send a universal payout of $2000 to everyone in the U.S., followed by recurring monthly payments of $1000. She proposed to pay for the plan by calling on the Treasury to use its authority under federal law to issue two trillion-dollar platinum coins.
But the U.S. government remains slow to act. Congress is gridlocked as House Democrats and Senate Republicans clashed over an effort to pass a third relief bill. Trump refuses to invoke the Defense Production Act, a World War II law that would allow him to force companies to accept government contracts in order to produce medical supplies and equipment.
The federal government has sent worrying signals that it will use its newfound power for repression. On Saturday, the Department of Justice asked Congress for emergency powers to detain people indefinitely without trial. Meanwhile, ICE demanded 45,000 N95 masks be diverted from hospitals during shortages to facilitate mass deportations.
Across the Atlantic, the Tory government in the UK has announced a rescue package for British workers, offering to pay 80% of wages for those not working. Germany has suspended rules requiring a balanced budget to fund a massive safety net for Germans hit by the crisis. Brazil’s fascist president, Jair Bolsonaro, refuses to confront the pandemic as the death toll in his country spikes. Comrades in Brazil’s socialist party are organizing to oust him.
- Want to organize a COVID-19 response in your workplace or know someone who does? Fill this out, and share this link far and wide.
- Did your chapter start a mutual aid project? Let us know here. And, if you want to start such a project and need help getting it off the ground, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Want tips on organizing in the time of coronavirus? Have tips to share? Check out the Collaborative DSA Covid-19 Resources One-Stop!
- If you haven’t yet, please sign and share DSA’s petition demanding a comprehensive response to the COVID-19 crisis that prioritizes #PeopleOverProfit.
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!
We will be sending these bulletins 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.