Skip to main content
DSA's logo of multi-racial clasped hands bearing a rose

DSA Feed

This is a feed aggregator that collects news and updates from DSA chapters, national working groups and committees, and our publications all in one convenient place. Updated at 9:30 AM ET / 6:30 AM PT every morning.

the logo of California DSA

California DSA Organizes for Propositions 5 and 33—the ARCH Campaign

If voters pass Propositions 5 and 33 on the November 2024 state ballot, we will take a couple of important steps toward addressing the housing crisis in California. That’s why California DSA has endorsed the ARCH campaign—Affordable Rent-Controlled Housing. 

California voters on November 5th can take back control over local rents from the developers and real estate industry that have stymied rent control efforts for decades. By passing the Justice for Renters Act—Prop 33—cities and counties will regain the ability to set rent rate regulations by repealing the Costa-Hawkins Act that currently prohibits vacancy control and other rent control policies. 

For good reasons, California DSA has made this effort our priority campaign. Housing costs are the largest driver of poverty in California. Real estate comprises roughly 45% of all financial assets globally. These are related phenomena: the consolidation of real estate by large holding companies has accelerated gentrification, displacement, eviction, rent burden, and homelessness. Rent increases are a major driver of inflation. Speculation and absentee landlordism are rampant. Urban redevelopment and the privatization of public housing into “affordable” housing has not resulted in the alleviation of poverty, but merely its relocation. 

As socialists, we say enough: everyone deserves a home, regardless of their ability to feed the rent-seeking economy! Passing Prop 33 is a strong step toward making housing a human right.

Build Social Housing

California also needs to de-commodify housing and to improve public infrastructure. Prop 5 would lower the voter threshold from a two-thirds supermajority to 55 percent to approve local general obligation bonds and special taxes for affordable housing and public infrastructure projects. This would make it easier to generate public funds toward housing that is built as a public good, rather than as a commodity investment.

The California DSA ARCH campaign will work with pro-tenant state-wide housing coalitions and will complement local fights this November to win tenant protections, elect rent board members and support pro-tenant DSA-endorsed candidates. All DSA members engaged in electoral work are encouraged to include Prop 33 and Prop 5 materials in your canvassing and outreach. 

Passage of Prop 33 and Prop 5 would reset the table for housing organizing. In both cases, socialists and our allies would start from a stronger foundation to improve the lives and economic conditions of workers, specifically their right to housing, while being disadvantageous to the interests of capital. Although these propositions do not fully achieve the policies we want, they will make it much easier to win those policies.

The coalition supporting Justice For Renters/Prop 33 is led by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has organized two prior initiatives to repeal Costa-Hawkins, and is very active in local and state housing issues. ACCE, which is a community-based organization that engages grassroot supporters in pro-tenant struggles throughout California, and organizes progressive campaigns state-wide, is also playing a lead role in the campaign. Labor unions including UNITE/HERE, United Teachers Los Angeles, United Union of Roofers, San Francisco City College Federation of Teachers, and the California Nurses Association, along with a diverse array of advocacy groups including Housing NOW!, CHIRLA, IE Votes, ACLU-SoCal, ADA, the Poor People’s Campaign and Housing is a Human Right have endorsed Prop 33.

Working class solidarity and militancy

Realtors and landlord-friendly legislation like Costa-Hawkins are just some of the ways that Real Estate capital shapes the world we live in. The fight does not begin or end with any one piece of legislation. We aim to investigate, educate, and organize in and across our communities, drawing inspiration from and working collaboratively as tenants in struggle. In this work we seek to build a campaign that fosters working-class solidarity and militancy that carries into the next fight, wherever and whenever (and whatever) it is.

Now is the time to join the California DSA ARCH campaign for Affordable Rent-Controlled Housing. 

More about Prop 33

More about Prop 5

the logo of California DSA

California Electoral Roundup

California DSA’s top priorities include electoral work, labor support, and housing. There are no doubt other priorities we could establish. Late capitalism provides us with plenty of opportunities to fight against various forms of social injustice, and many of our members across the twenty chapters of the state are involved with important struggles addressing structural racism, imperialist aggression, and ecocide—in other words, for equality, a sane international policy, and ameliorating the climate crisis by moving to a sustainable green economy. But within the limited resources of an all-volunteer state organization, these are the current designated areas, as voted on by our state council. 

The ARCH campaign (see [LINK] Michael Lighty’s article in this issue of California Red) involves all three priorities. It is focused on changing the position of renters for the better through the state ballot, and its component parts (Propositions 5 and 33) are backed by a number of progressive unions, within a broad community-based coalition. 

At the local level, California Red would like to highlight four other DSA-backed campaigns: one each in the East Bay and Los Angeles, and two in San Francisco. As we approach the November elections we will continue to follow these and other local DSA campaign developments. 

Volunteers attending Ysabel Jurado’s general election kickoff canvass in Highland Park, Los Angeles

DSA-LA Canvasses for Ysabel Jurado  - Dan L. of DSA-LA

We have launched and cleared the tower! DSA-LA had its official Ysabel Jurado general election canvass launch on July 14th in Eagle Rock, and it was a great start to the campaign. There was plenty of enthusiasm from our volunteers as they carried the energy of success from the primary into the general election campaign. The response from Eagle Rock residents in this initial canvass was equally enthusiastic for a Ysabel win because she is for the things they care about such as expanding affordable housing, ending homelessness, and tackling the climate crisis, to name a few. 

Still, we can’t let up and we have no intention of doing so. Each week, we will be phone banking to gather volunteers for that weekend’s canvass, and on the weekends, we will be knocking on doors reminding people that success in the primary is great, but success in the general is even better. So please join the Ysabel Jurado mailing list if you want to get involved. Here is the link for that. 

Shelby, a volunteer for the campaign, had this to say as to why she gives up some of her free time to support Ysabel: “Ysabel is an opportunity to be represented by someone who truly wants better for the district and has a clear plan to do so. With her background as a tenant rights attorney, I know she will work to establish much needed protection for renters. She cares about the community because she is an active member of the community, which we need more of in city hall.”

In order to help foster volunteer enthusiasm, we will soon be handing out nifty Ysabel campaign zines that will keep track of each person’s contribution of time and energy to the campaign. Besides being cool on their own, there will also be a prize at the end of the campaign for the person who contributes the most.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. The end is months away, and we are making each week count because that is how we get a win for Ysabel Jurado. 

If you want to donate to this incredible campaign, please go to Ysabel’s website and donate. 

San Francisco: Preston and Fielder - Luke T. of SF DSA
San Francisco DSA members are mobilizing to secure seats on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for two of their own. Dean Preston and Jackie Fielder, both endorsed by the chapter, are running as proud democratic socialists on bold platforms.

Dean Preston, seeking re-election in District 5, faces deep-pocketed opposition, including most publicly from Elon Musk. During his time in office, Dean has successfully taxed extreme wealth to fund affordable housing and rent relief, prevented tens of thousands of evictions, restored Muni lines and championed Free Muni for Youth, and more. 

In his vision for the next four years, Dean plans to launch a public bank to invest in small businesses, affordable housing, and green infrastructure. Bernie Sanders has thrown his weight behind Dean, stating in his endorsement: “We need bold leaders like Dean Preston in every state, at all levels of government.”

To volunteer click here 

To donate click here

Jackie Fielder, running for District 9 supervisor, is a Democratic Socialist, renter, water protector, and climate advocate who is dedicated to social housing, community safety, and a public bank. San Francisco DSA is excited to be backing her campaign, which promises to double the number of socialists in office on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors come November!

To volunteer click here
To donate click here

In addition to DSA SF, Fielder and Preston are backed by a strong coalition of unions and progressive community organizations. The chapter has been campaigning hard, making calls and knocking on doors on a weekly basis. The electoral campaigns have focused on building new chapter leaders and organizing new members. While SF DSA knows that electoral victories alone will not bring us to socialism, they view these campaigns as important ways to bring people into our movement and win meaningful reforms for working people.

PHOTO: Campaign kickoff for Dean Preston. March 24, 2024

Jovanka Beckles for State Senate, District 7 - Luca of East Bay DSA

East Bay DSA member Jovanka Beckles is running for State Senate in District 7, encompassing a broad swath of the East Bay through Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond. A former member of the Richmond City Council, Beckles is a leader in the fight organized by the Richmond Progressive Alliance against Chevron’s company town platform for profits over people. She is currently serving on the Alameda County Transit District Board of Directors.  If elected, Jovanka would be the only current DSA member to hold a state-level office in California. 

She is running on a broad platform of working class issues, including paid time off work for mothers, free early childcare, and women’s reproductive rights. Jovanka is fighting for fair wages, workplace power, and reforming Prop 13. She is a champion of quality public health care, transit and education, and demands services such as these to be free to all. She also calls for a Green New Deal for the East Bay. 

These commitments have earned her recent endorsements from two major California unions: Service Employees State Council and the California Teachers Association. They join a growing host of labor and community groups determined to stop the corporate-funded juggernaut of apostate Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin, who is backed by mega-dollars from Lyft and Uber and wealthy real estate interests against Beckles for the District 7 seat.   

With East Bay DSA scheduling canvasses and other events, Beckles has already anchored a ‘Divest from Apartheid’ campaign kickoff in mid-June, attended by dozens of EBDSA members and pro-Palestinian liberation organization activists.  On July 14 the chapter organized the first of four canvasses for Jovanka; the next one will be on August 24.  

If you are in Los Angeles, San Francisco or the East Bay, volunteer to help these DSA-endorsed campaigns. If you are elsewhere in the state, you can still help out by donating to the campaigns at the links above. Don’t let this opportunity to bring democratic socialists into public office pass you by. Watch future issues of California Red for updates and other DSA-backed campaigns.

the logo of California DSA

SF Reds Book Review

San Francisco Reds: Communists in the Bay Area, 1919-1958

By Robert W. Cherny, University of Illinois Press, 2024

San Francisco Reds: Communists in the Bay Area, 1919-1958 is the third book by Robert W. Cherny published within a seven year span covering left labor San Francisco in the twentieth century. The first two, Harry Bridges: Labor Radical, Labor Legend (2022) and Victor Arnautoff and the Politics of Art (2017) are biographies with a strong emphasis on their subjects’ relationships with the CPUSA.  In San Francisco Reds Cherny documents the party itself, from its founding during the post-World War I Red Scare, through the glory years of the Popular Front in the 1930s and 40s, and on into its decline under unrelenting attack during the McCarthy era. 

Beyond its firm grasp of Communist activities and policy within the Bay Area’s political culture, against the backdrop of the Party’s national and international contexts, the book’s strength is its focus on several dozen individuals, for whom Cherny provides capsule biographies, tracking their lives and involvements with the party and with various social movements it supported over several decades. 

As with the previous books, the scholarly research is impressive and meticulous. Mostly relying on primary sources (archival and oral history interviews, many conducted by Cherny himself) the author also casts a wide net on secondary sources, leaning especially on California Red, longtime CPUSA leader Dorothy Ray Healey’s as-told-to memoir with Maurice Isserman. It is worth noting the lines of continuity here, as Healey (Old Left) and Isserman (New Left) were early leaders of DSA as well. 

Cherny portrays both leaders and rank and file Communists as they attempt to mold a “Soviet America” and find their way through the often treacherous thickets of policy changes and reversals mostly ordered from on high in the Communist International via the leadership of the CPUSA.  But this isn’t a story about robots and their masters (although there is some of that). Thanks to the portraits, it’s a history of passionate and mostly well-meaning people, many of whom develop tremendous organizing talents and energies, doing their best to make a better world by fighting fascism and racism, building unions, and running electoral campaigns

There’s Bill Bailey, who got himself beaten badly after sneaking aboard a German ship docked in the New York harbor in 1936 to tear down the Nazi flag it was flying. There are the young women like Caroline Decker and Dorothy Ray Healey who as teenagers moved from organizing unemployed demonstrations in the cities to the central valley fields to support strikes of farmworkers. There’s Sam Darcy, the district CP organizer who, believing his own eyes instead of the Comintern’s directives, moved decisively out of Third Period sectarianism and abstention from AFL unions to help seed west coast maritime organizing before, during and after the 1934 San Francisco General Strike. 

San Francisco Reds serves as a cautionary tale for socialists who would build a mass left wing party in the USA today, with parts reading like commentary on contemporary tasks. 

The story of the CPUSA—like that of the Socialist Party before it—makes clear that the dominant organization on the left invariably has fissures and fault lines, consciously exploited by the security apparatuses of the capitalist state to sow suspicion and dissension and weaken the potential for united action. Cherny also demonstrates how those splits are unconsciously exacerbated by members who find fighting one another more compelling than seeking points of common interest and fighting capital. 

The infiltration of the Black Panther Party in the 1970s by COINTELPRO FBI disruption? Been there and done that in the CP throughout its earlier history. It’s hard to say, though, whether the worst enemy of the party was the government and ruling class, or at times itself.  

The Party was in a tough spot as the Cold War progressed. The dire conditions of Depression and war that had fueled its earlier growth had given way to prosperity, even to the extent of some dispersal of profits to the working class. Between the undeniably better conditions (less so for non-whites), the multi-pronged legal, undercover and political attacks on the party in the McCarthy era, bitter infighting among factions, and the Khruschev revelations about the murderous Stalin era in the Soviet Union, underscored by the invasion of Hungary, the organization collapsed. 

The CPUSA lost half of its membership (from 75,000 to 37,000) between 1947 and 1950; two thirds of what remained dropped away within a year of the 1956 double whammy. 

Cherny gives short shrift to other organizations on the left. He mentions Joseph James and C. L. Dellums in connection with the fight to integrate the Boilermakers union at Marinship during World War II, but doesn’t note their Socialist Party membership. Ray Thompson, a leader in the East Bay in another site of the struggle, is given the full nod as a Communist. 

His description of the Smith Act prosecutions in the 1950s tells us that Communist maritime union leader Al Lannon, “among the first Smith Act defendants…served two years in prison.” The Smith Act, later found unconstitutional, was passed in 1940, and its first victims, in 1941, were Trotskyist leaders in the Minneapolis Teamsters union—an outcome cheered on at the time by the CP. 

We find the occasional moment of dry humor here and there in San Francisco Reds. The last section of the book resembles the documentary movie trope where we see as the credits roll what happened to the central characters after the period described in the film ends. Cherny shows us that most of the activists who dropped out of the party continued to fight for social justice in other ways later in their lives. In detailing the later activities of a prominent left wing law firm, he tells us that “Hillary Rodham spent the summer of 1971 as an intern at Truehaft and Walker but was apparently not radicalized.”

Like Isserman does at length in his If I had a Hammer, the latter portion of San Francisco Reds explores in brief the baton being handed off from one generation to the next of the left. In recounting the story of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee hearings in the late fifties and 1960, we see how much the famed free speech struggle at UC Berkeley and less well-known sit-in battles to integrate employment in the hotel and auto sales sectors of San Francisco’s economy relied on children of the Old Left stepping up. The party’s legacy was a mixed bag. But the values it championed, however poorly, did not die with it. 

the logo of California DSA

Reader Survey Report

The June mini-issue of California Red noted that we have been bringing you the state’s democratic socialist news for a year now, and we felt it was important to get direct feedback from you, our readers on how we are doing. Forty-six of you took the time to fill in the survey (thank you!). Here are the results, listed by percentage of responses.  

Of the survey respondents, 54% read CR every month; 39% read it occasionally; and 6% rarely or never read it. 25% read one article or less; 48% read a few articles; and 26% read most or all of the articles.

How often do readers read CA Red?

How many articles are read per issue?

The category of article liked best is local DSA chapter news (a third), followed by political opinion pieces (22%), with labor and California DSA news tied at 17%, and book or movie reviews trailing at 7%. 

What type of articles do readers prefer?

In open-ended responses, you said that what you liked best about CR was hearing about the work of other chapters in the state, learning about California DSA State Council activities and decisions, its graphic design, and how thoughtful the articles were. 

The question asking what you liked least mostly received comments like “It’s good” or “No complaints”; of the few criticisms received, we got one requesting more Palestine movement coverage; another asking for greater frequency of publication; and one wanting news from more chapters.

In terms of what we could do to improve, we got a suggestion to expand to multi-media; publish a print version; deliver more in-depth pieces; hold more debates; tell how chapters are accepting California DSA goals; and integrate with national DSA communications. 

Our call for more authors got eight responses from readers willing to contribute articles. You will be hearing from them in the near future.

The all-volunteer team of California Red thanks the respondents for their thoughtful answers, and for our readers’ continued interest in the only regular democratic socialist news publication devoted to coverage of the Golden State. 

the logo of California DSA

Three Body Problem Review

Science fiction is blossoming in China in book, cartoon, video game, movie and TV series forms, and available in English translation. Inspired by the commercial success of the Chinese movie The Wandering Earth, The Three Body Problem was introduced on Chinese television in January 2023. The thity-part series by writer Liu Cixin was followed by an Americanized version on Netflix in April 2024.

Both American and Chinese versions deal with the first book of the three-book trilogy called Remembrance of Earth’s Past. The storyline begins in the Cultural Revolution when a young woman becomes an astrophysicist. She is in a secret project to send messages to the stars.

She receives a warning from a pacifist Do Not Answer from a three-star system four hundred light years away.  Communicating through giant radio telescopes gives way to mysterious reality video game headsets that are not made from any material on Earth.  We learn that the three-sun system is environmentally degraded and the Trisolarians have launched a fleet to settle on Earth but it will take four hundred years to arrive. We learn that through quantum physics and quantum entanglement the Trisolarians are able to monitor physics on the Earth to prevent the Earth from developing weapons that would oppose them. 

Like the American science fiction writers Isaac Asimov in Foundation and Orson Scott Card Ender in his Game series, Liu Cixin explores the rise and fall of civilizations and species. Both the Chinese and American series comment on historical cycles, science vs. anti-science and the historical fact that civilizations with technical superiority dominate those without. Both countries plan to serialize books two and three. 

Cultural productions like these are seen as an important part of Chinese society and are highly political in nature. During the Cultural Revolution science fiction was banned in China and discouraged in the 1980s as being “spiritual pollution”. Two months ago the Hong Kong paper China Morning Post published an editorial from a People's Liberation Army theory group. The article criticized the Netflix version of Three Body Problem for changing the setting from China to Europe. In the Chinese version this struggle against Earth's scientists takes place within China. The PLA critique is that the Netflix version puts forward the theme that white people are portrayed as the saviors of the human race.  In an aspect that might appeal to many DSAers, the Trisolarians test five people using historical problems via virtual headsets. 

American history is replete with the examples of colonial conquerors like Columbus, Pizzaro and Cortez. We know what happened to the Iroquois and Cherokee nations. While science itself is not neutral and reinforces class interests, the central struggle in this book is how the Trisolarians use anti-science ideology. They promote anti-scientific ideas to destroy the Earth's ability to defend itself. The contemporary parallel here is to destroy science in favor of theology or removing science-based government regulation. 

Cultural productions like these are seen as an important part of Chinese society and are highly political in nature. During the Cultural Revolution science fiction was banned in China and discouraged in the 1980s as being “spiritual pollution”. Two months ago the Hong Kong paper China Morning Post published an editorial from a People's Liberation Army theory group. The article criticized the Netflix version of Three Body Problem for changing the setting from China to Europe. In the Chinese version this struggle against Earth's scientists takes place within China. The PLA critique is that the Netflix version puts forward the theme that white people are portrayed as the saviors of the human race.  In an aspect that might appeal to many DSAers, the Trisolarians test five people using historical problems via virtual headsets. 

American history is replete with the examples of colonial conquerors like Columbus, Pizzaro and Cortez. We know what happened to the Iroquois and Cherokee nations. While science itself is not neutral and reinforces class interests, the central struggle in this book is how the Trisolarians use anti-science ideology. They promote anti-scientific ideas to destroy the Earth's ability to defend itself. The contemporary parallel here is to destroy science in favor of theology or removing science-based government regulation. 

the logo of DSA National Statements

Statement on the End of Joe Biden’s Presidential Campaign

Joe Biden has long been a warmonger and a perpetrator of genocide, a shill for corporations, an enemy of immigrants and the environment, and a failure to the working class. He has earned a disgraceful end to his career.

While Biden’s departure from the presidential race today improves the chances that we may avoid a Trump presidency, whoever the Democratic nominee is will undoubtedly fall short of what the working class deserves.

More Americans are becoming painfully aware that the leadership of the Democratic Party is completely unprepared to fight the far right with the ferocity required. Democratic insiders admitted recently that Biden was only anointed in 2020 not because he could beat Trump, but because they wanted to beat the overwhelmingly popular democratic socialist candidate Bernie Sanders.

Since becoming president, Biden has taken every opportunity to ruin his chances of reelection. Most notably, he continues to fund and actively support Israel’s horrific genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, tanking his popularity among young voters. He has offered zero vision for the future other than “Nothing will fundamentally change”—and as social and economic conditions get worse, we see that even that was a lie.

Neither major party has a vision that serves the working class. We need a serious alternative to the Republican Party’s proto-fascism and war on unions, immigrants, women and transgender people, and democracy itself—and an alternative to the Democratic Party’s complicity.

We need a new party that represents a mass movement of everyday people who want to stand up and fight for a world that’s free of war, bigotry, and corporate exploitation. We deserve a party that will champion worker power, fight for liberation and dignity for all people, end the climate crisis, and create universal programs like public housing, free college, and Medicare for All.

Join DSA to build that party with us.

Tune into our public call on Tuesday, July 23rd at 9pm Eastern, 6pm Pacific to learn more about how you can join DSA and build a future that works for the many, not the few. RSVP:

The post Statement on the End of Joe Biden’s Presidential Campaign appeared first on Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

the logo of Rochester Red Star: News from Rochester DSA

State of Queer Roc

By Travis Covitz

As Rochester enters its second Pride Month, it is an appropriate time to ask: what is the political state of Queer Rochester? 

I was one of the individuals interviewed in a recent Guardian article that declared Rochester is a ‘safe haven’ for transgender people. Since then, I have had many conversations with queer and trans leftists in Rochester, who all have different perspectives on the nature and politics of our local queer community. I have shared drinks with liberal gay folks, and gained insight into their moderate lens of the state of Queer Rochester. My value of preserving queer history has also inspired me to seek out the long-term community activists, who have taught me some of the information necessary to understand the current context of queer politics in Rochester. This context is one of many clusters that do not form a larger matrix—Queer Rochester lacks unity as a coherent political class.

Even if it was fair to call New York a ‘safe haven’ in 2023, this year has proven how that status is not a guarantee. In Nassau County, the County Executive attempted to ban transgender students from participating in school sports. The GIRDS Act (“Gender Identity Respect, Dignity, and Safety Act”), which would protect incarcerated transgender New Yorkers, failed to reach the State Senate floor during the most recent legislative session. The New York State Representative for nearby Livingston County, Marjorie Byrne, led a legal challenge to the Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”) which will be on New York ballots this fall. The ERA would expand anti-discrimination protections to protect women, queer people, disabled people, and those exercising their reproductive rights. Here in Rochester, the Phelps Avenue Shelter—the only homeless shelter in our area for LGBT+ adults—closed, and a frightening homophobic hate crime recently occurred on Monroe Avenue. Of these stories, the hate crime received the most local news coverage. The political assaults have been left relatively invisible by the local Rochester media.

Fortunately, courts have overturned the transphobic decisions from Nassau County’s Executive and State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Doyle, who ruled in favor of Rep. Byrne. But the fact remains that queer Rochesterians cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of safety. The referendum was challenged by a legislator in our own backyard. Rhetoric of queer people as ‘groomers’ has reached the Pittsford government as seen in their attacks on drag performance. Parents in local school districts have been fighting against the normalization and acceptance of transgender students. Several Black queer people in Rochester have died in the past year, and the family of Davon Davis—a Black trans man killed in Brighton in 2022—continues to be failed by Monroe County. 

Queer Rochester is divided by a legacy of white chauvinism and neoliberal gays abandoning the needs of working-class, homeless, Black, and brown members of the Rochester queer community. Assimilation and mere acceptance of gay existence has muted the ability of the Rochester queer community to see how queer rights are linked to issues of policing, capitalism, and more. Meanwhile, the Rochester Left—including Roc DSA—has seen the power of political education and getting the masses to understand the interconnected nature of social issues in winning multiple local campaigns. The Ceasefire Resolution, the No BID Campaign, the Pause on the Reassessment, and the Housing Vacancy Study had joint press conferences as well as residents at Speak to Council who came with their own cause that then shared support for the other campaigns. This was incredibly successful. 

The ERA is, in and of itself, a cause uniting reproductive rights, queer rights, and disability rights—the amendment literally creates anti-discrimination protection at once for those who are pregnant, seek and obtain abortions, are disabled, or are not cisgender, gender conforming, and heterosexual. Informing people about the ERA and the need to flip the ballot come November, so they may vote in the referendum, inherently leads to questions about building solidarity. It is an opportunity to talk about homelessness and incarceration as queer issues, and organize those who care about queer rights into a united front that fights alongside us against crisis pregnancy centers, Zionism, and the capitalist class. There are already several community organizations doing the work to support the disenfranchised—Queer Rochester does not need another new organization. It needs to be actively invited into the existing work.

As DSA members, as leftists, we can take my assessment of the disorganized state of Queer Rochester. We can see who has been allowed to slip through the cracks and what stories get attention. We can learn from the success of uniting campaigns to the City Council. We can look for those who are invested in the ERA, and we can show them all the other ways Rochester’s queer community is being failed—and we can help them fight, and win.

The post State of Queer Roc first appeared on Rochester Red Star.

the logo of The Activist - Young Democratic Socialists of America

Activist Updates: 2024 YDSA Convention Day 2

The Activist Editorial Board summarizes the second day of the 2024 YDSA national convention. After being taught how to use OpenSlides  and the history of Robert’s Rules of Order on day one, delegates began debating, persuading, and voting on resolutions on day two. 143 delegates gathered on Zoom, participating in three “deliberative blocks,” with votes…

The post Activist Updates: 2024 YDSA Convention Day 2 appeared first on YDSA.

the logo of Democratic Left Blog

Green New Deal Commission: Allying with Transit Workers in Louisville

The Green New Campaign Commission talked with members of Louisville DSA about their Get on the Bus campaign in this interview, originally published in March on

Louisville DSA is Building for Power through its public transit campaign, Get On The Bus. Campaign leaders Michael B. and Allison L. share how the push to fund TARC buses started on a strong relationship with the local Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).

Why did you decide to work on public transit?

Allison L: Louisville’s public transit system, Transit Authority of River City (TARC), is chronically underfunded. Its funding model is archaic and hasn’t kept up with several factors that have increased the want and need for public transit. Public transit advocacy fits well into the broader DSA agenda of supporting working people and addressing climate change. Personally, I lived without a car in Chicago for 15 years, taking mostly public transit, and I’ve always found it odd and disappointing how difficult it is to use TARC.

Michael B: Our campaign is working to address the funding structure of TARC, specifically around two issues. One, most funding sources are marked for capital expenses, not the expense dollars needed to pay drivers overtime, keep buses on the road, etc. And two, Louisville Metro government doesn’t contribute directly to TARC’s funding. 

Tell us about your relationship with the ATU local.

MB: We were actually in a unique position where our local ATU reached out to LDSA wanting to work together on a campaign to address TARC’s funding. LDSA came out in support during ATU’s last contract fight. ATU is in this position where rider’s want buses to run, driver’s show up wanting to drive, and TARC turns then away because TARC can’t or won’t provide overtime. The timing of Louisville’s budget process leads directly into ATU’s next contract negotiation, and increasing public perception and involvement around TARC and ATU should give them additional leverage. 

We have a real partnership with ATU on this effort, which I think separates us from other organizations. As an example, I want to touch specifically on the letters being signed by ATU members. We worked with ATU leadership to build short quick-hit letters to tell the TARC Board to demand Mayor Greenberg add TARC as a line item to his budget proposal. We identified 4 key issues ATU workers wanted new funding to support: Pay & Benefits, Safety, Accessibility, and the Mechanic Apprenticeship Program. The first three issues are fairly typical, but the Apprenticeship Program is something unique to TARC that most of the public wouldn’t otherwise be aware of, and only a subset of ATU members would be directly involved with. It’s by working directly with ATU that we not only hear about these specific issues and needs, but that we can work with them to help raise their own voices on the issue. 

What steps are you taking to build solidarity between operators, riders, and other groups?

AL: We have developed a letter writing campaign for ATU members to express why increased funding matters to them. We are sending these letters to the TARC board in hopes it will encourage them to advocate more for ATU members. We’ve also developed a rider survey and “tired of being ghosted by the bus?” sticker campaign to build rider solidarity through a heightened awareness of TARC’s citywide issues, and to gather data of rider experience to use later. We’ve written a longer demand letter for other groups (unions, environmental groups, public transit groups, etc.) to send to the mayor. And for the general public, we have a petition to the mayor and are hoping to implement a postcard campaign to send to metro council members.

What local political conditions are you having to overcome?

AL: The funding model for TARC currently does not guarantee that it is included in the city budget every year, which is the only way to ensure consistent funding. Also, though the Mayor has promised to make Louisville green, it doesn’t seem to extend to TARC. 

MB: TARC is funded through a trust fund system established in the 70s, which simply hasn’t kept pace with the needs of the city. Not only did the Mayor campaign on green issues, including TARC, but Metro Council has voted on long-term plans that stress the importance of a frequent, reliable, expanded public transit system. Neither Mayor Greenberg or Metro Council have actually acted on either of their plans. 

What challenges and opportunities does organizing in the South bring?

AL: The challenge of organizing for public transit in the South is that there is not a deeply embedded tradition and public understanding and respect for public transit, unlike northern cities like New York City. We are largely an unwalkable, car-based society, with ample parking lots and ever-widening highways, and when public transit is unreliable or difficult to use, our natural reaction is to disregard it until it disappears, instead of recognizing the amount of funding it will require. There is no vision for a future that includes public transit as a primary mode of transportation.

MB: Louisville, like many southern cities, continues to suburbanize. Only a select few areas are walkable. Our homes, jobs, grocery stores, and third places grow further and further apart, and we are doing literally nothing to address the issue.

How can people in Louisville get involved?

Sign our petition and tell Mayor Greenberg and Louisville Metro Council to Get on the Bus and Fund TARC! 

The post Green New Deal Commission: Allying with Transit Workers in Louisville appeared first on Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).