DSA COVID-19 Bulletin #7: Essential Workers are Heroes

DSA COVID19 Bulletin

The DSA COVID-19 Bulletin from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is designed to keep 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

Essential Workers Are Heroes

While many of us work from home — and while many more of us have unfortunately been furloughed, laid off, or had our hours cut — some of us have been deemed “essential workers,” and are still leaving the safety of our homes every day to keep our society functioning.

The vast majority of workers who are deemed essential are poorly paid, or otherwise treated with disdain. Grocery store workers, sanitation workers, utility workers, and of course, healthcare workers, have always been the backbone of our country. And for perhaps the first time ever, people are starting to notice, thanks to the fierce organizing that frontline workers are doing.

These workers are heroes, and they deserve way more than just gratitude — they deserve proper safety equipment and hazard pay during the coronavirus crisis, along with raises, respect, and strong unions when social distancing is over.

Austerity Kills

Healthcare workers around the world are risking their lives to care for the millions who are sick with the coronavirus. But in the U.S. — the richest country in the world — many of our healthcare providers are rationing personal protective equipment, wearing garbage bags as gowns, and working without days off. There are not nearly enough N95 masks for healthcare workers or ventilators for people who are struggling to breathe, and the cost of ventilators has now almost doubled (thanks, capitalism). And to add insult to injury, workers are being retaliated against when they speak up about hospital conditions. Don’t forget: their working conditions are our care conditions.

This is because our society values profits over our health, and routinely defunds hospitals and other health programs. Look at what happened to California when emergency medical stockpiles were defunded after the 2008 recession. In 2019, 47 hospitals across the U.S. closed, mostly in states that did not expand Medicaid. And in the same year, at least 30 U.S. hospitals entered bankruptcy. In Philadelphia, a shuttered hospital sits empty because its mega-rich owner will only lease it to the city for $1 million per month. All of these political choices have robbed us of necessary facilities and staff to care for all of the people who need it now. This is what a healthcare system that puts profit over people looks like.

Our healthcare workers deserve up-to-date facilities, proper equipment, and an end to our failed, profit-driven system. Join the fight here. And if you haven’t yet, please sign and share DSA’s petition demanding a comprehensive response to the COVID-19 crisis that prioritizes #PeopleOverProfit.

Workers Strike Back

Workers all over the world continue to take bold and brave action in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. There are so many workplace actions and one-day strikes happening that they’re almost hard to keep up with. But of course, you can always find them here, in the DSA COVID Bulletin.

Workers at Whole Foods Market, owned by the richest man in the world (who still had the gall to ask the public to pay for a fund for his own employees!) called for a sick-out yesterday. And at Jeff Bezos’ other company, Amazon, 100 warehouse workers on Staten Island walked out on Monday. One of the warehouse workers explained the condition in an interview with Jacobin: “Amazon is a breeding ground.”

Healthcare and social services workers in California came together to make huge, transformative demands of Governor Gavin Newsom, including to fund free medical education, discharge all student loans, re-open all hospitals closed in the last five years, ban evictions, freeze mortgage and rent payment requirements, and immediately begin the transition to a statewide Green New Deal. Sign and share their petition.

Workers at General Electric have been demanding that, amidst layoffs, the company convert its factories to make ventilators. At a factory in Kansas, for example, more than 52% of the workers have been laid off, and there is over 700 feet of factory space that’s not being used. Workers recognized that they have both the skills and resources to help the U.S. confront its ventilator shortage, and are calling on G.E. to do the right thing and help end the coronavirus crisis.

Workers in Tunisia have chosen to isolate themselves inside their factory in order to make 50,000 masks per day for healthcare workers.

Want to organize a COVID-19 response in your workplace or know someone who does? Fill this out, and share it far and wide. Maybe we’ll be sharing you and your co-workers’ story in an upcoming bulletin!

DSA Announcements

  • Join us on April 2nd for a call on strategic mutual aid. RSVP here.
  • Is your chapter organizing to fight back in this crisis? Let us know. And, if you want to start a project and need help getting it off the ground, email [email protected].
  • Want tips on organizing in the time of coronavirus? Have tips to share? Check out the Collaborative DSA Covid-19 Resources One-Stop!
  • DSA’s Socialist Forum is looking for submissions for its next issue, themed “Social Responses to Crisis.” Editors will blind-review pitches and notify you about the status of your submission by Monday, April 27th. If your pitch is chosen, Socialist Forum will expect a full first draft by Monday, May 11th. Submit here.

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.

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 share 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.

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