May Day Dispatch + National Convention Updates

National Updates Table of Contents

Happy belated May Day as we move forward with fits and starts, setbacks and advances. This holiday is an opportunity to remember the history of our class struggle, from Haymarket to Ferguson, commemorate those we have lost, and learn lessons for our future.

We’ll need to be sharp, because our strategy of building power in the formal political system and outside, in our workplaces and communities, is more important than ever.

We know we have limited time, as the historic flooding of the Mississippi and other rivers demonstrates, before climate change causes even more mass displacement and opportunities for the ruling class to divide us. Even if we help elect Bernie Sanders president, what if there’s still a Republican Senate and the Wall Street Democrats control the House? What does it mean for our strategy that a conservative majority is locked in to the Supreme Court for years to come? That the commanding heights of the economy are still in private hands, not under public control?

We’ve seen in the last month how critical cases about the U.S. census, about reproductive and health care justice, and about the rights of the 99% vs the rights of corporations, are all in the hands of a new Supreme Court. And from Tennessee to Texas to Florida, right wing state legislatures are steadily eroding our democratic political rights, whether through restricting voter registration drives, instituting new poll taxes, or using statewide political power to preempt local government on issues like paid sick time or sanctuary for immigrants.

Yet, as always, there are so many reasons for hope. This week 10,000 teachers marched in South Carolina to demand respect and the resources they need to support their students. This month, courts in New York announced new rules prohibiting ICE from arresting individuals in state courthouses without a judicial warrant or judicial order. And in New England, over 30,000 Stop and Shop workers struck over 200 grocery stores for 11 days, in the largest private sector strike in years — and won.

DSA was in the thick of all these struggles. We fight for immediate goals for themselves but also to build solidarity across our differences and build long term collective power against the capitalist class.

I believe that we will win.

And watching all the Southern organizing going on makes me thrilled that we’ll be gathering in Atlanta, Georgia for our national convention. It was difficult finding a venue — it is one of only two union hotels in town — but it is critical that as a national organization we rotate our convention sites throughout the country. This makes it easier for members to attend as well as helps delegates get a flavor for the wide variety of political, cultural and economic contexts in which we organize. Atlanta, like too many cities, has seen their housing market decimated by AirBnB, which is why I’m so proud that we are meeting at a hotel where workers are unionized with UNITE HERE Local 23!

That’s what I call y’allidarity.

UPDATES FROM THE NATIONAL OFFICE

  1. Meet your Workers
  2. Work for DSA
  3. Launching the DSA for Bernie Campaign
  4. Democratic Socialist Labor Commission endorses Labor for Bernie
  5. Medicare for All Campaign takes the fight to Big Pharma
  6. National Electoral Committee Report
  7. Save the Date June 1: No Shortcuts to Building Power
  8. Apply to attend the National Convening of the AfroSocialists and Socialists of Color Caucus
  9. Apply to join the DSA International Committee
  10. Statement on the Venezuelan Coup Attempt
  11. Expulsion from DSA Protocols
  12. Chapter Treasurer and Fundraiser Coaching Available
  13. National Convention Updates

ONE: MEET YOUR WORKERS

Eileen Casterline, Database Coordinator

Based in NYC

Hi y’all! I’m Eileen, the database coordinator. I started in September 2016 as the Administrative and Office Coordinator and changed to the database position after the 2017 convention. I enjoy spreadsheets, lists, and opening mail, so the change made sense, you know? I am the master of many lists — membership lists, registration lists, mailing lists, and everyone’s favorite, the membership card mailing. I also handle mass info updates and payment processing. I adore the lovely notes so many of you include in your mail to DSA. I could do without the nasty ones. Check out the DSA FAQ for answers to questions like “how do I update my name or mailing address?” and “how can I sponsor a comrade’s membership?” among many other super fun things.

Heidi Chua, Assistant to the National Director

NJ contingent of the NYC office

Hello, I am Heidi. I assist the National Director and help manage and prioritize her schedule and travel. My responsibilities also include providing administrative support for the National Political Committee and the board of the DSA Fund (our sister educational 501(c)(3) organization.) Additionally, I am DSA’s fiscal officer managing DSA’s budget and financial health and work closely with the NPC’s Budget and Finance Committee.

TWO: WORK FOR DSA

We’re expanding our capacity to support chapters and manage operations with an increasing membership. We need a Conventions and Conferences Coordinator, a Bernie Campaign Manager, a Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) Organizer, and a Compliance Manager. Check out our open positions here.

THREE: LAUNCHING THE DSA FOR BERNIE CAMPAIGN

We need Bernie to win — and we need to be a stronger organization and movement when he does, because we know the backlash will be fierce. That’s one reason that our campaign plan is to do effective Bernie work that also centers our issues and builds chapter capacity at the grassroots.

Watch our recent campaign launch video that recaps our strategy, compliance rules, upcoming resources we’ll be developing, and what you can do to get started locally.

We’ve also added some updates to our DSA for Bernie Independent Expenditure Memo and FAQ.

Finally, YDSA held a voter registration training call, and we held our first Action Network training call with a small group of pilot chapters from around the country. Action Network allows you to post your local DSA for Bernie events on a national map so others can RSVP, email people who express interest, and more. The next step is to work out any kinks with our Action Network plan and then roll that out to more chapters.

Ready to get started on the DSA for Bernie campaign? Sign up here!

FOUR: DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST LABOR COMMISSION ENDORSES LABOR FOR BERNIE

The DSLC has endorsed Labor for Bernie, the network that is helping to build support for Sanders among the ranks of organized labor. His campaign cannot succeed without this institutional backing from labor unions.

If you’re a union member, take the pledge to support Sanders and help get your union to support him as well!

FIVE: MEDICARE FOR ALL CAMPAIGN TAKES THE FIGHT TO BIG PHARMA

Medicare for All received its first ever Congressional hearing in the Rules Committee! We joined National Nurses United in a rally outside of the HQ of PhRMA (the most prominent pharmaceutical lobbyist) the day before. Joining us at the rally and attending the hearing as a witness was DSAer and healthcare activist Ady Barkan, who is dying of ALS. Barkan delivered a powerful speech:

“Despite these obstacles and despite the personal challenges that I face, I sit before you today a hopeful man, a hopeful husband, and a hopeful father. I am hopeful because right now, there is a mass movement of people from all over this country, rising up.”

  • Barkan is right. As our movement gains traction, big insurance and pharmaceutical companies are starting to feel the heat. UnitedHealth, which is the fifth-largest US corporation by total revenue of any kind, took a massive hit and recently “underperformed the S&P 500 by its widest margin since April 2009.” This is why the corporate campaign against Medicare for All is here. The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHC) — an anti–Medicare for All coalition with partners such as American Medical Association (AMA), American Hospital Association (AHA), and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) — has spent a combined $143 million on lobbying against Medicare for All in 2018 alone.
  • We’re very excited to partner with groups like Our Revolution and Public Citizen to promote a new organizing tool for M4A activists: Medicare 4 All Resolutions. Passing a local resolution in your town or city is a powerful step that you can take to build the movement for Medicare for All. Now with this tool people across the US can easily see who else is organizing in their city, and get involved.

In the field, our pressure campaign is keeping the heat on representatives who have yet to sign on to Medicare for All. We are canvassing, writing op eds, passing city council resolutions, and bird dogging representatives. If your chapter is interested in doing any kind of direct action or M4A event, see our House pressure campaign guide or our general organizing guide.

For more updates on the campaign, visit our website, follow our Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to our monthly newsletter!

SIX: NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMITTEE REPORT

Last month DSA endorsed Jackie Goldberg for LA School Board (election day May 15th) and Irma Corado for Fairfax, VA Board of Supervisors (election day June 11th), and we’re continually working with chapters on national endorsement requests. The NEC encourages chapters to host phone banks in support of our nationally endorsed candidates, so remember to apply 70 days or more before your locally endorsed election if you want a national endorsement.

Reach out to eric@dsausa.org in order to get plugged in to phone banking and reach out to the NEC for support building up your electoral working group.

SEVEN: SAVE THE DATE: NO SHORTCUTS TO BUILDING POWER

Join us for a zoom video conference conversation with community, environmental, political and labor organizer Jane McAlevey about her book, No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age and the lessons for democratic socialist organizers. Session one is scheduled for Saturday, June 1st at 2:00pm Eastern/ 1:00pm Central/ noon Mountain/11:00am Pacific. Register here. We’ll send another email with more details including a book discount soon.

EIGHT: APPLY TO ATTEND THE NATIONAL CONVENING OF THE AFROSOCIALISTS AND SOCIALISTS OF COLOR CAUCUS

June 7 – 9 in New Orleans, members of color from around the country are invited to gather together, build relationships, strategize for the future of multiracial socialism in the United States, and show solidarity with the dispossessed and poor around the globe.

Please pass this information along to any members of color in your chapter and ask them to fill out this form. The deadline to apply to attend is May 7, 2019.

Since the colonial occupation of America began, capitalism and racial oppression have walked hand in hand.At the convening, the AfroSocialist and Socialists of Color Caucus will delve into our place in this struggle, grounding it in the context of DSA, and of our time. We hope to build on the vibrant history of socialists of color like Ella Baker, A. Philip Randolph, Fred Hampton, Angela Davis and others. Our goal is to cultivate a culture within DSA that is supportive, welcoming, and elevates our comrades of color so that we can advance the aims of socialism and dismantle all forms of oppression.

NINE: APPLY TO JOIN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE

The DSA International Committee’s mission is to help DSA and its membership to connect in solidarity with like-minded activists, workers, movements, and parties worldwide. Within DSA membership, we hope to contribute to international political education and to support the growth of international solidarity work in local chapters across the country. We additionally aim to support national campaigns for international justice and to help provide a network for internationalism for membership across the country.

We are seeking a limited expansion of our membership in advance of the 2019 DSA Convention and invite DSA members to apply to become part of this committee. Our principal goal is to bring in new members who reflect the growth of DSA’s national membership in recent years, as well as the diverse and dynamic political organization that DSA strives to be going forward.

Please join us in a solidarity that knows no borders.

TEN: STATEMENT ON THE VENEZUELAN COUP ATTEMPT

DSA stands with the people of Venezuela against the U.S.-sponsored coup attempt led by Juan Guaidó and Leopoldo López. DSA affirms our commitment to defending the sovereign right of the Venezuelan people to determine their internal matters through the democratic process, and opposes any foreign interventions. The statements and actions of the U.S. government in support of the attempted coup are an expression of U.S. imperialism and must be opposed.

ELEVEN: EXPULSION FROM DSA

When a member is expelled from their chapter for any reason, whether harassment, bullying, or other behavior, that chapter must notify the national office so we may revise our membership roles to reflect that that person is now an at-large member. Chapters may also recommend to the National Political Committee (NPC) that someone be expelled from the entire organization. Conversely, members who have been expelled from a chapter may appeal that decision to the NPC.

At the January meeting, the NPC instituted a process for handling these situations, which we are now operationalizing. You may see further details here, including the language from our constitution and bylaws, the process, and a form to submit one of the above requests to the national organization.

TWELVE: CHAPTER TREASURER AND FUNDRAISER COACHING

Text: "ORGANIZED PEOPLE + ORGANIZED MONEY = POWER!" above silhouettes of people at demonstration holding signs, flag, banner;  dollar bills in background.

Our Development Director Alison led workshops at our regional preconvention conferences and is now holding individualized training sessions via zoom video conference call for all chapters throughout the month of May. In order to build your overall local capacity for the long term as well as raise money to send delegates to the convention, make sure the person heading up fundraising and renewals work in your chapter or organizing committee schedules a call ASAP.

THIRTEEN: NATIONAL CONVENTION UPDATES

At the April meeting, DSA’s National Political Committee made many decisions about the upcoming National Convention, including:

  • Updating the Convention Rules
  • Setting rates for Registration & Housing
  • Extending the Deadline for At-Large Delegate Nominations
  • Extending the Deadline for NPC Nominations  
  • Postponing the DSA Political Platform Process

For four pages of details on these decisions, check out the May Convention Report from the Convention Planning Committee.

If you have questions, email convention@dsausa.org. The members of the Convention Subcommittees are as follows:

  • Rules: Natalie Midiri, Theresa Alt, Renee Paradis, Will Bloom
  • Resolutions & Amendments: Natalie Midiri, Theresa Alt Beth Huang, Graham Denevan
  • Elections: Sam Lewis, Marianela D’Aprile, Chris Maisano, Aaron Marks
  • Credentials: Laura Gabby, Andrej Markovcic, Bryan Lavergne, Zac Echola
  • Program & Logistics: Jack McShane, Kristin Schall, Russel Rawlings, Sam Miemczewski, Allie Cohn
  • Districts & Regions: Ryan Mosgrove, Arielle Cohen, Dele Balogun, Jeremy Gong
  • Platform Drafting: Lillian Osborne, Ravi Ahmad, Jeremy Gong, Ella Mahony, Jack Suria Linares

You can also sign up here for more frequent and detailed updates about the Convention.