DSA Active in Campaign for Ceasefire and Palestine Liberation
Since October 7th, DSA has supported the cause of Palestinian liberation through calls for a ceasefire, an end to US military aid to Israel, and the end of Israeli apartheid.
On a national scale, the “No Money for Massacres” campaign has been phone banking members and patching them through to leave comments with their elected representatives, whose offices take note of constituent opinion. The campaign has made hundreds of thousands of calls and has a schedule posted for interested activists to sign up for shifts.
The DSA International Committee – whose robust Palestine Solidarity Toolkit is worth checking out – held a national call on Thursday Nov 9 that featured Nerdeen Kiswani and professor Bikrum Gill. Ms. Kiswani, one of the most prominent voices for Palestinian liberation in the English-speaking world, suggested that DSA members would do well to familiarize themselves with the Points of Unity of Within Our Lifetime (WOL), the organization she is affiliated with, and join Palestinians in their call for the right of return to the land “from the river to the sea.”
Professor Gill addressed common questions about violence during decolonization. He stated that it is not possible for people living in the belly of the beast to give instructions on how to resist oppression to people who are facing nuclear armed superpowers. He added that it is the duty of activists within the American empire and its allies to organize toward the disarmament of the military apparatuses in their own home countries.
There are some notable ad-hoc efforts by DSA organizers that have had national and international reach. Jewish socialists from across the country have signed onto an open letter whose authors are some of DSA’s Jewish organizers. The letter has caught the attention of mainstream outlets and is crucially letting the public know that Zionism is antithetical to both Judaism and social justice. A prominent DSA member helped raise over $88,000 for the Palestinian Children Relief Fund through social media.
The work of chapters
Chapters across the United States are taking action as well. They have both sponsored rallies and marches as well as sent contingents to be present at those actions where sponsoring events was not possible. Portland DSA’s Jewish organizers were critical to the November 11 labor rally and march for a ceasefire. NYC DSA is leafletting across the boroughs, holding political education meetings about Palestinian liberation, and is leading an email blitz of elected representatives. In California, East Bay DSA was instrumental in getting a resolution in solidarity with Gaza passed in Richmond California, which was the first American city to pass such a resolution. Similarly, EBDSA members organized to boost turnout to protest and shut down a weapons shipment from the Port of Oakland, taking the lead of the Arab Resource Organizing Center and joining the wave of dockworkers in Belgium and South Africa who are similarly protesting.
California DSA members, including California Democratic Convention delegate Jonah Gottlieb of East Bay DSA, have given public comment at the Alameda County Democratic Party and the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, which has helped pass pro-Palestine resolutions in those bodies. Future targets for similar resolutions are Oakland Unified School District, the SFDCC, the Berkeley School Board, and the Oakland City Council.
YDSA in California has been active on Berkeley’s campus, supporting, promoting, and speaking at rallies organized by Bears for Palestine and Law Students for Justice in Palestine. It also hosted a teach-in on the history of Zionism and Palestinian resistance, phone banked members of Congress in support of a ceasefire and an end to US military aid for Israel, and supported UAW members at UC Berkeley in the union’s successful passage of a pro-Palestine resolution.
The above is only an overview that is meant to be representative of DSA’s involvement in the struggle for Palestinian liberation in the past several weeks, not an exhaustive recounting. Readers are encouraged to regularly check both national and local DSA websites for information on ways to participate as we continue to struggle alongside our Palestinian siblings. As American Socialists, we must be clear in echoing the demands of organizations such as WOL and Palestinian Trade Unions such as demanding a ceasefire, stopping U.S. military aid to Israel, and an end to the Israeli apartheid regime.
Transit Workers and Riders Organize for Better Conditions
Over the past year, AC Transit, the East Bay’s local bus network, has been planning a major service redesign known as “Realign”. The multi-year project seeks to adjust transit service to meet changing travel demands among riders and an ongoing transit worker shortage. However, the current proposals threaten to cut transit service and fail to address the root causes of AC Transit’s problems: workplace issues causing a transit worker retention and hiring crisis.
Linking Workers’ and Riders’ Issues
East Bay DSA’s People’s Transit Alliance began a petition campaign in May 2023 to call on AC Transit to improve conditions for transit workers and address service reliability deficits. The petition was based on demands raised by transit workers during a town hall with DSA-endorsed AC Transit Director Jovanka Beckles in April 2023. Too often, workers say, bus schedules do not accurately reflect on-the-ground conditions, causing undue pressure for Bus Operators. Workers’ breaks at the end of their routes are often cut short or don’t happen at all. For instance, when the bus arrives 10 minutes late to its final stop, that is time taken away from an operator to take a break and use the restroom before getting on their next route. For riders, this means that their buses are unreliable, leaving them unable to get to their destinations on time.
AC Transit’s own data shows that on time performance (OTP) is around 75%. However, OTP is significantly lower among certain lines—particularly the trunk routes that carry the highest number of riders.
The Realign Proposals
On November 1st, AC Transit staff presented three proposals to the Board of Directors. AC Transit is set to vote to select and implement one of these proposals in April 2024, with full roll-out set for August. The proposals, however, currently only show route-by-route changes, without data to compare overall service levels among each other or to pre-COVID service.
In addition, none of the proposals provide any concrete means to improve scheduling and reliability. Instead, the proposals seek to merge various lines together, exacerbating their unreliability, while threatening to cut one of AC Transit’s highest ridership lines, the 72R. All this will mean greater strain on workers and a continuing workforce shortage that keeps AC Transit from restoring services cut at the onset of the COVID pandemic.
In the last week of October, PTA sponsored a sign-on letter to the AC Transit Board of Directors. The letter, which gathered over 130 signatures, called on the Board to ensure that Realign addresses scheduling issues, to publish more data on the proposed changes, and to create a truly aspirational Visionary Scenario. At the November 1st board meeting, PTA organized workers and riders to make public comment, ensuring that the Board and staff heard our concerns directly.
Along with the demands included in the letter, PTA also called on AC Transit to delay the implementation of Realign to ensure that staff have time to get it right. These interventions have incorporated workers’ voices into the Realign process.
Realign and the Longer Fight for a World-Class Transit System
Realign is a major service redesign with a lot at stake for both workers and riders. While it will take continued efforts to transform the East Bay’s bus network into the system that the multi-racial working class truly deserves, Realign provides a nearer-term opportunity to identify and organize around common-good demands. By connecting worker and rider issues, PTA is fostering solidarity among providers of a critical public service and the communities they serve, while showing that it is in fact these two groups that should be giving direction on how public transit is governed in the East Bay.Back to all news
A Win for Socialism in Orange County
Earlier this month Santa Ana Ward 3 residents in Orange County beat back an attempted recall of councilwoman Jessie Lopez with the help of DSA members by a 56-44% margin.
An hour south of Los Angeles, nestled between the 5, the 55 and the 22 freeways, sits Ward 3 of Santa Ana. This November, the residents there raised their voice in opposition to the corporate arm of Santa Ana city council members at the ballot box, and they won.
Democracy be damned
We are living in a time where conservatives don’t seem to care whether their candidate earned the most votes. These are the entitled brats of our contemporary era, blindly addicted to power, democracy be damned. Can we still call it democracy? Santa Ana Councilwoman Jessie Lopez faced what appears to be a pattern on the right: when you lose the election, no you didn’t! Deny the possibility that you did in fact lose. Allege that all the votes cast for your opponent are fraudulent. And fight and spend like hell to recall the winner when you have no evidence to support that claim.
In Santa Ana—the only city in Orange County with rent control—big developers, landlords and police spent money in favor of liberal, centrist politicians who wouldn’t mind having us all pay even higher rent. Jessie Lopez, a member of the Working Families Party, was duly elected to the City Council, representing Ward 3, in November of 2020. The City Charter, which was drafted and adopted last century, clearly reads that a member of the City Council is elected for a term of four years. Why do right-wingers, cops, and big owners wish to ignore basic foundations to the Santa Ana city code? a
“It’s very important to remember that landlords and police unions teamed up together not for the benefit of the community, but for the benefit of themselves. This recall was an attempt by the powers that be to disenfranchise the voters from the 3rd Ward,” said Daniel Placencia, Co-Chair of the Orange County chapter of the DSA. “They were willing to spend eight hundred thousand dollars of taxpayer money, for what? To end rent control and diminish police oversight.”
When landlords, cops and establishment Democrats on the council endorsed a recall of Jessie Lopez, they did it out of complete disrespect for the majority of working families who put her there. Jessie was born and raised in Santa Ana, California. She holds a BA in Sociology from the California State University, Long Beach, after transferring in from Santa Ana College. While in college, she organized to fight against sexual assault. She has worked to ensure the city’s parks are revitalized and taken care of. She is an exemplar of public service. Make no mistake, these qualifications fall on deaf ears for her greedy and power-hungry opponents.
These opponents include Phil Braccera, David Penazola, and Valerie Amezcua, the current mayor, who are against full enfranchisement of the residents of Santa Ana, as well as rent control. Over the past year, these councilmembers took xenophobic and classist positions in debates. In Amezcua’s own words, “There’s four people up here that are just jumping in the water cause it feels good, looks good – ra, ra, ra – pat yourself up on the back because ‘I’m saving my community.’”
She went on, “That’s mature, responsible leadership. That’s not what we’re doing up here.” Allowing rents to increase, handing over excessively more money to cops, and disenfranchising residents of Santa Ana appear to be what Amezcua finds responsible. Rather than deploying the council’s power to the benefit of people, these liberal centrists have repeatedly bent their knees to big money interests.
Placencia points out, “What’s more ridiculous is that Jessie is up for re-election next year, the general election. They knew less people would show up during an off year, and that’s why they tried this.” Daniel grew up in Santa Ana and is now studying Political Science at Concordia University, a small private university in Irvine. He understands politics as a noble vocation, sharing my excitement over a cup of coffee that Jessie defeated the recall.
Who gets to have power
The policies Lopez supports include keeping Santa Anans housed, aid for houseless people, and ensuring city funds are provided for education, recreation, mental health professionals. These policies help keep everyone safe, while supporting the most vulnerable in our society. While these seemingly intractable social problems pervade the state, every Californian can find hope in Jessie’s victory.
“Imagine talking to single parents or struggling families and telling them your rent is going to go up two hundred dollars a month this year,” said Placencia. “Can you imagine the amount of extra stress they’d be put under to pull together an extra two hundred? [Because of] our victory, we maintained the 3% rent control, which was established when Jessie was the deciding vote in favor in 2020.”
Or as Lopez told Jacobin, “This is the fundamental fight that so many of us have been a part of for so long—of who gets to have power in their communities.”
Orange County DSA members joined the CA Working Families Party to phonebank for Jessie on September 29. And on the Saturday before the election, November 11th, Orange County DSA members joined a canvass to knock doors for her. The night she won, OCDSA members joined the celebration.
With this victory, Californian socialists can admire Santa Ana for leading on democratic and collectivist principles. But the fight goes on. With neighboring Orange County cities such as Costa Mesa and Buena Park signaling support for rent control policies when we all drastically need them, you better believe the interests of capital will swarm in to try to stop these municipalities from progressing. If we continue to organize, we can continue to win.
SF Nurses Fight VA Scheduling Change Caused by Outsourcing & Cost-Cutting
The national wave of worker unrest over hospital conditions that create job stress, burnout, and short-staffing reached the corner of Clement and 42nd Streets in San Francisco’s outer Richmond district last month.
On October 18, nearly one hundred RNs and other staffers from the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center (SFVAMC) spent their breaks or lunch hour on an informational picket-line. It was organized by Local 1 of the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), which represents 1,100 employees at the facility. Dressed in blue scrubs, and accompanied by a boom box blasting golden oldies like “We Are Family,” the RNs waved signs, chanted slogans, urged passing drivers to honk their horns in solidarity, which many did, and perfected their picket-line call-and-response skills (“When nurses are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”)
A key organizer of the protest was SF DSA member Mark Smith, an occupational therapist at the VA. NFFE members are getting picket line and public support from other SF DSA labor committee activists and SF Supervisor Dean Preston, who is also a DSA member.
The protest was triggered by a cost-cutting measure, announced by one of 170 medical centers run by Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which serves nine million patients nationwide. SFVAMC executives want to cancel flexible work schedules for bedside nurses at a time when the VA is struggling to fill RN vacancies around the country. A recent report by the agency’s own Inspector General found “severe shortages” of nurses in more than 90% of VA hospitals.
NFFE members—who picketed in T-shirts with the slogan “Serving Those Who Served” on the back—say this management move will impede RN recruitment and retention locally and adversely affect the quality of patient care. According to one report, 87% of healthcare recruiters surveyed are having more difficulty hiring nurses, with two-thirds reporting major difficulties. This has created an intense post-pandemic competition for nursing staff. The flexible work schedule known as “72/80,” which allows nurses to work for 72 hours while being paid for 80, has become a key tool for keeping experienced RNs on the job and attracting younger ones.
Why Change What’s Working?
To conform to this new industry standard, VA management initiated “72/80” about a year ago. As part of a national effort to reduce RN burnout and relieve staffing shortages, more than 5,100 nurses at 57 VA medical centers around the country are currently on this schedule, a 70% increase from earlier this year. At the San Francisco VA, inpatient and emergency department nurses currently work six 12-hour shifts in two weeks, totaling 72 hours instead of the traditional 80 hours.
This arrangement is popular because it permits workload relief and more time off between shifts. As one NFFE member explained, it allows nurses to have more time to care for themselves and their families, and also work part-time elsewhere if necessary. In a high cost of living city like San Francisco, this is often a necessity. Another nurse, who has been with the VA for over a decade, recalled that management initially rolled out flexible scheduling “very intentionally, unit by unit to see how it would work and it was working. People were happier and morale went up.”
But then management decreed that nurses at Fort Miley, as the facility is popularly known, would have to return to a traditional 80-hour schedule in early November.
“We have been told by our leadership that there is a $76 million deficit and that part of the way they want to deal with that is by taking away our flexible work schedules,” said one picketing nurse, who did not want her name used for fear of employer retaliation. “To now take that away and have us work more for no difference in pay, no increase in pay, is a huge problem for us.” She and other nurses interviewed for this story worry the schedule change, if implemented, will lead valued co-workers to quit. “That would absolutely happen,” one RN predicted. “There are so many nurses that are hanging on because they care about our veterans.”
Listening to Nurses?
Union supporters were also irate about management’s stance during a recent virtual town hall meeting with nursing staff. Instead of listening to rank-and-file concerns, one reported, “They ended up speaking over the nurses for nearly the entire time and, when we tried to have the union meet with our medical center director, she wouldn’t even entertain the idea.” (Not surprisingly, a VA Inspector General report issued in August found deficiencies in the local leadership, including the facility’s nurse executive. Even more alarming was its finding that 40% of San Francisco VA hospital staff were afraid to disclose a “violation of any law, rule, or regulation” for fear of reprisal.)
According to NFFE chief steward Mark Smith, management “has been unwilling to negotiate over its proposed change in nurses’ working conditions and has not responded to our bargaining related data requests.” NFFE has a filed an unfair labor practice charge over this, triggering a pending investigation by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).
VA management did respond to a CR request for comment on the dispute. In an email message, local public affairs representative Shirley Jih told us that “the re-evaluation of the 72/80 alternate work schedule was carefully made and we are confident, that as a health care organization, our ability to provide high-quality care for veterans will remain unchanged. We will monitor outcomes and continue to evaluate the decision as we move forward.” Jih said that the SF VA Medical Center has “an active talent management program and will continue to utilize available recruitment and retention authorities to hire and maintain highly qualified nursing staff.”
Mark Smith points out that the VA’s top three local competitors for nursing staff—UC San Francisco, Zuckerberg San Francisco General, and California Pacific Medical Center—all offer flexible schedules along with equivalent or better salaries and benefits for their nursing staff. Two San Francisco Supervisors, who have weighed into the dispute, are questioning management’s claim that the impending schedule change will have no adverse impact on what Jih called the “valued, dedicated, and hardworking members of our staff.”
On October 18, District 1 Supervisor Connie Chan offered personal picket-line encouragement to VA nurses, who work in her district. She told us that “taking away flexible schedules is creating a hazard in the work environment not just for nurses but for their patients.” In a letter sent the same day to SF VA hospital executives, District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston chided management for not “consulting with frontline nurses or their union.”
Preston put the ill-advised scheduling decision in the broader context of “privatization of public goods.” This has led, under the Obama, Trump and Biden Administrations, to massive out-sourcing of veterans’ care to the private healthcare industry. Currently, more than one quarter of the VA’s $120 billion clinical care budget is being spent outside the VA for treatment that could be provided, at lower cost and with greater effectiveness, inside the nation’s best working model for socialized medicine.
Impact of Privatization
As a result, the VA Medical Center in San Francisco is only one of many around the country with operating deficits, due to unnecessary but Congressionally-mandated patient referrals to the private sector. The hospital’s $830 million budget for 2020 was increased by $87 million for the following year; yet $50 million of that increase was spent on reimbursement of private doctors and hospitals. When a group of VA patients and union activists held an anti-privatization protest four years ago at the same location as the NFFE protest this month, Vietnam combat veteran Paul Cox warned that “outsourcing is going to do serious damage to the VA’s ability to provide healthcare.”
That prediction has, unfortunately, come true. And those paying the price today, locally and nationally, are VA patients like Cox and front-line care-givers forced to wage defensive fights over the fall-out from privatization of VA services. Like trade unionists under attack anywhere, NFFE Local 1 is necessarily focused on local damage control.
“Nurses understand the necessity of effective budget management,” says chief steward Mark Smith. “They are prepared to discuss alternative solutions to address financial concerns while preserving the 72/80 schedule. They firmly believe that cost savings can be achieved in ways that don’t reduce bedside nurses’ quality of work-life. We want an agreement that benefits the VA, its bedside nurses, and the veterans they care for.”
Any such “win-wins” on a larger scale will not occur until more caregivers stand up and fight back politically against the privatization push that threatens more 300,000 union-represented workers at the VA and nine million patients.
Canvassing Contra Costa about local fossil fuel drilling
On October 4th, from 4:30-6:30 PM, seven members of the Climate Action Committee of East Bay DSA canvassed at the Concord Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station, talking to people on their way back from work.
The primary aim of the canvass was to gather signatures for a petition to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to ban new oil and gas infrastructure within the county and to phase out existing drilling.
To give some context for the petition and canvass, let’s look at the fossil-fuel geography of Contra Costa County. Contra Costa is chock full of refineries, which dot the coast of the county along its natural northern and western borders—a chain of waterways transitioning from the Sacramento River to the San Francisco Bay. Here we find a history of anti-fossil-fuel resistance, in the city of Richmond especially, where the Chevron refinery has poisoned residents for decades (e.g., Richmond has an asthma rate of 25%, compared to 13% in California).
Contra Costa also has an active oil well in unincorporated land outside the city of Antioch. This is on the eastern side of the imposing Mount Diablo, which splits the county.
We canvassed in Concord, which is the most populous city in Contra Costa (129,000), but fairly spread out with a land area larger than Manhattan. Concord is to the west of Mount Diablo.
Our experience canvassing
To assist the seven of us canvassing BART riders at the Concord station we had made flyers, which described our intent and some background on the current drilling.
Here’s what we found.
Many had no knowledge of drilling in Contra Costa County. One canvasser said only one person he spoke with knew about the drilling, and that person had been taught about it a few years ago as a high school student. This person was against the drilling, but felt hopeless about stopping it.
Only a small fraction of the BART riders stopped to chat, and even among those who seemed supportive, few were interested in having long conversations. As a result the vast majority of conversations were quite short.
Only a fairly small fraction of those who opposed the drilling did so due to the relationship between fossil fuel usage and climate change. Other reasons included: the negative health effects it could have on a beloved pet, and the perception that drilling could result in seismic activity.
A person will take an action to try to change the world when
that action fits into the existing pattern of their life-activity
they believe that that action has a good chance of changing the world to alleviate a felt pain.
Put another way, the strongest resistance begins in sites within people’s daily lives, in opposition to obvious wrongs, with actions that start off as small modifications of behaviors they’re already engaged in. This is why labor and tenant unions can be so powerful. They do not require their members to engage in purely “activist” activity outside the patterns of their daily behavior; rather they allow people to struggle within the life-patterns they are already following due to their position within the social structure.
Climate change is, unfortunately, a pretty abstract issue. The connection between its causes (fossil fuel usage demanded by the needs of capital accumulation) and its effects (heatwaves, fires, droughts, flooding, destruction of animal and plant life, mass migrations) is difficult to perceive directly because there is a large time-lag between the cause and the effects, and because the causality is mediated by completely invisible changes in the composition of the atmosphere.
Growing the committee’s skills
Even in this case of concrete fossil fuel infrastructure, the fact that the existing well is hidden away from most people makes the issue abstract in a way that lessens the felt pain. Moreover, the actions we were presenting people with—first stopping to talk about a yet unknown issue, and then subsequently signing a petition—required interrupting their normal commuting-rhythm and perhaps was not credible in terms of its potential to actually ban new fossil fuel infrastructure.
As a result, I think our effectiveness was limited in terms of getting signatures and having deep conversations. On the positive side, I think the canvass was valuable in terms of exercising our skills as a committee: our logistical capacity of getting canvassing materials to the site, our mobilizing capacity to turn out members, our design and communication capacities in the design and production of a flyer, and our skills in talking to strangers about politics. Moreover, I think we learned something about how a local segment of the working class is currently thinking about the climate crisis, the relation of that crisis to fossil fuel, and the possibility of intervening.
Planned Parenthood Gives Birth to a Union
Hot labor summer has come to a close with a union election win for Planned Parenthood workers in southern California. On September 12th, the National Labor Relations Board tallied mail-in ballots, revealing 93% of workers in support of forming a union with SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW).
An Accelerated Campaign
Following the overturn of Roe with the Dobbs decision in June of last year, abortion providers became especially vulnerable to the will of their employers, as demand for essential healthcare services increased. Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (PPPSW) workers recognized this, and understood there cannot be reproductive justice without labor justice.
The organizing committee leading this campaign was determined via nomination by peers, identifying individuals considered organic leaders within the micro-community of each work site. This process cultivated organizers with diverse experiences, and representation of job roles across PPPSW. This was the first union organizing campaign for most of the organizing committee. Therefore internal development and improved understanding of unions and labor justice were important for the organizing committee’s success. Committee members became a key resource for all PPPSW workers, dispelling myths and misconceptions about unions, and streamlining communication throughout the campaign.
PPPSW workers progressed through their organizing campaign at a remarkable pace for the affiliate’s size and geography, which includes about 500 workers in San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial counties across 26 facilities. This momentum may be attributed to the workers’ collective dedication to reproductive rights, and how those principles align with ensuring a fair and equitable workplace. Less than a year of rank-and-file organizing resulted in a clear majority win for PPPSW, forming a union of workers from many job titles, including licensed professionals, medical assistants, patient access specialists, and non-clinical administrative roles.
In joining SEIU-UHW, PPPSW workers have chosen a prominent healthcare justice union of more than 100,000 workers across California, which includes workers from Kaiser and SHARP Healthcare. With this foundation of solidarity, PPPSW workers intend to improve on key issues such as pay, benefits, and work-life balance. Governor Newsom’s recent approval of SB 525, which establishes the first statewide healthcare-specific minimum wage of $25 per hour, was spearheaded by SEIU-UHW membership, and sets the tone for PPPSW’s upcoming contract negotiations. Bargaining is set to begin in December 2023.
Solidarity and Next Steps
San Diego DSA supported PPPSW workers throughout their union campaign, allowing workers to air issues and campaign progress with the Labor Working Group. DSA members shared connections to elevate the PPPSW campaign in media at the local and national level. DSA members also participated in PPPSW union events, such as a Labor Day action and a mutual aid fundraiser.
As the PPPSW union moves into negotiating its first union contract, DSA members will continue to support the campaign by pressing the employer to bargain in good faith and participating in worker collective actions as they arise.
Adams & Parker Accused of Assault + Adams Approval Rating Dips
The NYC Thorn is a weekly roundup of local political news compiled by members of NYC-DSA.
Eric Adams Scandal News
The deadline for the Adult Survivors Act (ASA), which was passed by the state legislature last year and extended the statute of limitations for civil suits related to sexual assault, saw a flurry of new suits filed, including one against Mayor Eric Adams, for alleging assaulting a woman in 1993—an allegation Adams has denied. An NYPD officer is also suing her union representative. And State Senator Kevin Parker (District 21, Flatbush), who was challenged in 2022 by DSA-endorsed David Alexis and has a history of violent outbursts towards colleagues and reporters, has been accused of rape in a suit made possible under the ASA.
A new poll shows approval rating for Mayor Adams sinking, with more than half of respondents disapproving of his performance in office and more than 70% responding that they believe he did something illegal or unethical during his mayoral campaign.
New York's highest court is likely to decide in the coming month whether state Democrats will redraw the state's congressional map will be redrawn ahead of 2024 elections in a manner that could reverse some of the state party's losses in 2022.
A bill passed by the legislature to increase transparency among LLCs is one of many awaiting Governor Kathy Hochul's signature before the end of the year.
City lawyers are trying to recoup $474,000 from former Mayor Bill de Blasio to cover expenses incurred from his failed run for president in 2020.
Even as federal prosecutors are moving to strip the City of its authority over Rikers Island due to "dangerous conditions that perpetually plague the jails," Mayor Adams insists that the situation there is moving in the "right direction."
Despite the state's new HALT Solitary Confinement Act, which strictly limits the use of solitary confinement in New York correctional facilities, jails around the state are finding ways to circumvent the law.
Rideshare service Revel is ending its shared moped service in New York.
The NYC Local
We're excited to say that last month, Alex Chan, David Kim, and David Turner revived our chapter's labor newsletter The Local. It arrives every other week with a focus on labor organizing, bargaining, and local legislation that impacts NYC's workers. Give them a follow and thoughts about what you'd like to see from a socialist labor newsletter.
Revolutions Per Minute
Listen to NYC-DSA's weekly radio show Revolutions Per Minute. Check out the show here.
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Electoral Committee report
As reported at the September 23 State Council meeting, the California DSA electoral committee struggled to identify candidates for our Assembly Slate program. We have spent the last few months discussing plans to pivot our projects so California DSA can still advance democratic socialist politics and support DSA chapters in California in the 2024 electoral cycle.
Though we will not be campaigning for a legislative slate next year, the committee still intends to produce a finished legislative program with the planks that CA-DSA delegates voted on earlier this year. We will preview key elements of it at the December State Council meeting.
Additionally, we are inviting all DSA members in California to join us in three key electoral projects for the 2024 electoral cycle:
Using the legislative program, and in collaboration with other DSA chapters in California, we intend to produce a voter guide measuring legislative candidates up and down the state against our legislative program.
Dating back to the early 1900s Progressive Era, California’s regular ballot measures are an exciting and simultaneously infuriating method of direct democracy, and just like every other major election year, 2024 will see campaigns for several significant ballot measures put to voters. The electoral committee is recruiting members to research these measures and then propose a slate of endorsements and a campaign plan to engage California DSA chapters through 2024.
Finally, DSA’s national convention in 2023 adopted a resolution encouraging democratic socialists to run candidates for school boards. Public schools remain one of the last bastions of public services in the United States despite being under attack from billionaires, the neoliberal charter movement, and increasingly, far-right efforts to target trans and queer youths and suppress intellectual freedom. Our committee is aiming to support this effort in collaboration with the national campaign to help local chapters identify and execute school board campaigns to defend public education!
All three of these projects are still in early planning stage, but all members are invited to sign up to help us with any of these three projects here:
We didn’t shut down APEC, but a lot of APECers had a bad morning
It’s not often that most of us see the faces of the ruling class up close. When we do catch glimpses in the media, they are usually smiling brilliantly or pondering importantly. What about staring anxiously? Or eyes-wide freaked out? Gesticulating hysterically?
In my role as ‘security’ at the edge of a street protest during the Asian Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) conference in San Francisco on November 15 (which I didn’t know I was going to be doing until five minutes before, when someone handed me a dayglo green vest and told me where to stand) these expressions of capitalist dismay were what I witnessed, up close and personal.
I had joined a half dozen San Francisco and East Bay DSA members along with a few dozen union siblings at the meetup point for the labor bloc outside the Parc 55 hotel in darkness and a light rain at 6:30 am. Jamie, who had signed up as an arrestable, went off to join others at a nearby parklet. The rest of us (Eric, Luke, Carla, Doc and Yuesen) waited until 7:15, when we moved a few blocks away to our designated intersection, Fifth and Mission.
No2APEC, a broad coalition of climate justice groups, anti-imperialist organizations and labor, started meeting several months ago to plan a welcome for the summit, a yearly conclave of elite politicians and corporate leaders who gather to figure out the best pathways for global trade—the best, that is, for their bank accounts and stock portfolios, with scant consideration for the economic damage to the rest of us or the havoc wreaked on the earth and its prospects to reverse climate change.
Big time leaders
This year’s attendees included Joe Biden, Narendra Modi, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Xi Jinping and hundreds of CEOs of the world’s largest corporations. Along with them came their many assistants, minions, and hangers-on, estimated at thirty thousand in all. We did not imagine that the top tier-type APECer (pronounced “a pecker”) would be dropping in on our street welcome committee. Just twelve entrances in the fences erected around a ten-block square area of the city surrounding Moscone Center allowed access—nine for pedestrians and three for vehicles. The Big Boys and Girls were ushered in via speeding SUV caravans with police escorts. But the B-list luminaries were forced to enter the conference through the limited number of access points.
(This was due to the insane level of security the conference required. The San Francisco mayor’s office—no doubt with all the city’s problems fixed and no other needs to spend local tax dollars on—threw down ten million dollars to help the federal government create the highest official level of security for an event in the United States, comparable to a presidential inauguration.)
The lesser dwellers of the APEC stratosphere were surprised to find that their healthy walks from their hotels to the conference center included a long detour, courtesy of No2APEC, holding down the intersection of Fifth and Mission from 7:15 am until we gently withdrew around noon. Nearby, a few blocks away, Montgomery Street was likewise eerily free of vehicular traffic due to the Climate Justice bloc’s lockdown, preventing APEC guests at the fancy Palace Hotel from leaving in their cars.
Easier and harder
The way that the Secret Service had temporarily redesigned the streets of South of Market made it easier for us to find places to have our demonstrations, while making it harder for us to achieve our goal, which, articulated in the chant bouncing off the buildings, was to “Shut down APEC!”
Due to the security fencing and massive police presence we were not close to the actual doors of the convention center. But to get to those doors the APECers had to go through the checkpoints, and our intersections were chosen carefully to maximize disruption to their access. The pedestrian entrance at Fifth and Mission was the width of the sidewalk, about ten feet, creating a ready-made choke point for the demonstrators to block.
Hundreds of demonstrators filled that intersection, buffering about forty locked-down individuals against one of the security fences. A dozen had their arms in six “lockboxes”—reinforced PVC tubes with handles inside for hands inserted from both ends of the tube. The rest of the “red” (arrestable) demonstrators kept arms linked on either side of these. At the very center of the human chain was Brandon Lee, a paraplegic Chinese-American activist (disabled by Philippine army bullets) in a motorized wheelchair, chained to the demonstrators on each side of him.
A line of cops stood across Fifth Street, a half block away. Police vehicles bunched together a similar distance down Mission Street. It felt good to know that the reason they were there, in otherwise empty streets, was because we had taken over the intersection. To our advantage was the massive presence of global media, in the glare of which it would not have been prudent for police to knock us around and clear us out.
Unsuspecting APECers showed up at this intersection after hoofing a quite lengthy city block. Their foiled attempts to go through the intersection to the conference generated the expressions of consternation, fear, confusion and anger over the realization that their usually privileged ruling class status wasn’t going to help in this situation.
Social class and clothing
It's been a while since you could tell what social class a person on the street belonged to by their clothing alone, but for a few hours on Fifth and Mission in San Francisco we returned to those simpler days of yesteryear. We wore street gear, prepared for rain and cops. Workers and residents of the area wore normal work clothes of varying types. The APECers, helpfully wearing bright yellow APEC lanyards on top of their expensive duds, stood out from their environment to the crowd of intersection squatters at one hundred paces like lightning against a midsummer storm cloud.
This gave the mostly female demonstrators on my corner by the pedestrian access point time to prepare their special welcome, which consisted of linked arms in a shoulder-to-shoulder human wall that chanted greetings like “Shut down APEC”, “People over profit”, and “Turn around, go back” as the conferencegoers approached.
Scenes like this were replicated at the other checkpoints. According to news reports many APECers did not make it to their meetings on time, or at all.
I enjoyed playing the good cop. Standing in my special green jacket, topped by my gray hair, I appeared to be someone that the well-dressed people might trust a bit more than the unruly ranks of mostly young people ranged against them. About ten feet in front of the human wall, I would advance to our bewildered international guests and confidentially advise them that it might be best for them to turn around and go another way.
Some chose to ignore me. These tended to be large angry white men, who would quickly find that crashing the line like a fullback didn’t go well. The two or three who made it through the first row with this method were then confronted with much larger numbers of much larger people. Discretion became the better part of valor and around they turned.
Most APECers took my advice and beat a retreat. One middle-aged woman, who seemed close to tears, told me she had been walking for over an hour, trying to find her way to a checkpoint that worked. She asked, “Do you think it would be dangerous for me to try to go through there?,”gesturing at the packed, chanting intersection. I replied, “You probably wouldn’t get hurt, but you will definitely get harassed.” I felt a little bad for her as she wandered slowly and disconsolately away. She was polite, she seemed to understand what was going on, and quite emotionally distressed. Oh well, a relatively harmless bit of class war collateral damage. As Lenin said, probably apocryphally, “To make an omelet you have to break some eggs.”
Less benign was the one violent incident of the day, which occurred when one of the large angry white men, talking to some nearby cops about his bad morning, abruptly turned and bashed a chanting female protester in the jaw. She went down hard on the asphalt with what turned out to be a broken jaw and brain bleed. She was taken to the hospital. The man was arrested.
So what did we accomplish with our morning’s work (and the prior work of months of planning)? To have shut down APEC in a Seattle 1999 WTO-style event would have required thousands of protesters. We mustered perhaps seven hundred, and thus had to content ourselves with Plan B: disrupting and slowing down entry to the conference for some indeterminate but substantial number of delegates; and gaining several days of media coverage with our counter message that APEC, far from representing any sort of advance for world civilization, simply meant more of the same for the world economy—profits for the wealthy, union busting for the workers, and continued climate destruction; and how has that been going for most people?
These were real accomplishments, not to be dismissed lightly. Without this work the international elites would have been able to present a seamless picture of the good they were supposedly doing on behalf of humanity. The CEOs and world leaders handing out prizes for the “empowerment” of women and youth through “sustainable” capitalist trade practices would have been the only things the public heard about this global capitalist cabal.
One more possible benefit: people in movements that travel different paths and often don’t talk with one another forged a coalition around a program of radical direct action against destructive trade practices in the world economy. With some ongoing work these can be continuing relationships.
UAW Strike: A big win for the working class
The national five-week #UAWStandUpStrike (September 22 - October 28), which ended with a solid victory for the union, the members, and the working class, was bolstered by the excellent support and solidarity offered by DSA-IE & DSA-LA here in Southern California, just as DSA provided at other strike locations around the country.
On week two of the strike against the Big 3 (just Stellantis and GM members in California, as Ford has no major facilities here) members of UAW 6645 - GM in Rancho Cucamonga, and UAW 230 - Stellantis-Mopar in Ontario, stood up and walked out, joining other locals across the country that struck the week before.
Our GM facility has roughly seventy-five UAW members. The strike lines were active and ran 24-7 until the end of the strike. Members from several different unions, folks from the community and elected officials came out to both strike lines and showed their support and solidarity.
UAW 6645 members were grateful for all who came out to our rally on October 6 at the GM PDC in Rancho Cucamonga with the pro-labor band, Los Journal Eros Del Norte, and for DSA-LA, which provided the street tacos vendor. Due to the unsafe conditions of vehicle traffic in the area and other logistical issues, it was very challenging to hold strike support rallies at GM. But we did.
A gun on the line
Meanwhile UAW 230 - Stellantis in Ontario had a very active and fluid strike line. Starting three hours into Day One, September 22, the strike was extended to the Parts Delivery Center’s cross-dock operation in Mira Loma. This is a third party logistics facility used to deliver parts to the dealers, a job that was partially lost through arbitration. The arbitration decision allowed Stellantis-Mopar to be more profitable and save money, without any benefit to the customers or the employees.
Within an hour of our strike line extension we had a lively picket line, comprising UAW members along with DSA-IE strike supporters. Imagine our surprise when we had a handgun pulled on us by an employee of SI Testing, a Rancho Cucamonga electrical service company and service vendor for the Mira Loma building.
Apparently the driver felt he didn’t have to wait the 15 minutes and his turn to leave the property. He snaked around the other trucks in front of him, and when he was stopped by a DSA member and a UAW striker from hitting a female striker, the driver pulled out a handgun, pointed it at us and said “Get the fuck out of my way!” In self-defense, we distracted him with our picket signs. He drove off to the side and was followed by a striker to get his vehicle license plate. Unfortunately the Riverside County Sheriffs’ Department was more interested in managing our strike line than in the driver threatening us with a handgun.
Meanwhile, on Friday October 13, Stellantis hired para-military anti-union security guards to come in and break our strike lines. The Huffmasters Security firm, which has a history of breaking picket lines with violence (see the More Perfect Union story), deployed their thugs throughout Stellantis-Mopar operations where the company felt it had “problems” getting its trucks out. These guards were hired to be intimidating and to threaten our members.
We had one major incident where the Mopar director instructed the security team to blow through the lines, causing a confrontation between UAW members and the security guards as they came onto public streets in military formation.
UAW stood strong and we held the line that morning. The incident was retaliation for our members holding up the trucks and management for six and a half hours. After the arrival of 30 police officers and a call of an unlawful assembly, the line was opened and management was allowed to report to work.
Results of the Stand Up Strike
UAW negotiators have negotiated one of the best contracts coming out of the Big 3 in the past twenty years. We are ecstatic about the 25% wage increase and a positive step in bringing all our UAW members in the Big 3 up to equal pay for all.
Although we were not able to successfully negotiate post-retirement pensions and healthcare for those hired after 2007, we have fourteen years to negotiate those items (until the first non-pension UAW member is eligible to retire under the new tiered pension structure).
We are grateful for the DSA, other unions and the community’s support during our strike, and we look forward to supporting future union efforts and workers in their quest for justice and the fight against Corporate Greed. As they say, #EatTheRich #UnionStrong!