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The Capitalist Housing Market has Failed Us

Let’s Build a Publicly Owned Alternative: Support I-137

Building publicly owned, democratically controlled high quality and green housing is the way out of the crisis of affordability and homelessness, for all working people.

[You can find this article here as a PDF leaflet]

Seattle Deserves Better Housing

Seattle is facing a huge housing crisis. For too long, the cost of living has been skyrocketing for working people. People feel less free to make the choices that will create a happy life for themselves and everyone in their community. It doesn’t have to be this way. The fight for I-137 is one step toward a better future for all.

Employers who purchase the labor of highly compensated workers above $1 million in total compensation will pay a 5% marginal tax. To find out more about I-137 and how the excess compensation works go to LetsBuildSocialHousing.org (that’s where this graphic is actually from)

From Private Ownership to Democratic Public Ownership

Housing under capitalism is an unstable, racist system of competition. It follows a boom bust cycle that preys upon working and poor people. Neighborhoods are gentrified. We need to build new housing that’s collectively owned by and for working people. I-137 is a step toward that: I-137 is a ballot initiative in Seattle, put forward by the House Our Neighbors coalition of community, gender, racial and economic justice organizations including DSA. It taxes large corporations (an excess tax only on compensation of over $1 million per person) to fund publicly owned social housing (the democratic, public housing developer voters in Seattle approved in 2023).

Tax Big Business

Washington State and the federal government have underfunded our education, our housing, our communities, especially of poorer working class and BIPOC families. It’s time to turn things around and use the wealth that working class people create in favor of the needs of working class people.

Join the Fight

If working people are going to win things like Social Housing, Medicare for All, and stop the Israeli war against Palestinians, we’ll need our own political party. Here in Seattle and Washington State the Democratic Party runs all levels of government in the interests of big business. Join the Democratic Socialist of America today to help build an alternative to the Wall Street Democrats and the even more dangerous far-right Republicans. Imagine if we can vote and organize for a party we actually like that is not just the lesser evil. 


Build Millions of Green New Homes Nationwide

Around 11.3 million households in the US pay more than 50 percent of their income on housing. 650,000 people are homeless. DSA is fighting to put people over profits. 

  • Build millions of units of new publicly owned housing to create social housing under democratic control of tenants and communities
  • Rent control and strong enforcement of tenants’ rights
  • Transformation of the housing stock in the US to zero-carbon, highly energy-efficient homes; creating high-paying unionized jobs; focus on building communities with new or improved green schools, child care and senior centers, expanding access to clean transportation, creating community gardens and other community investments
  • Democratically-controlled models of land ownership like community land trusts

Our efforts to build affordable housing are part of our larger vision: We want to live in a society based on economic, racial and gender justice – a democratic socialist society. Join DSA today: SeattleDSA.org/join 

[You can find this article here as a PDF  leaflet]

The post The Capitalist Housing Market has Failed Us appeared first on Seattle Democratic Socialists of America.

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Austin Socialist News Bulletin

by Sara G.

Austin Socialist News Bulletin – May 2024

At the end of April, we had comrades in jail for peacefully speaking up for Palestine, while other comrades served as legal counsel, marshaled protests, and waited around the clock at Travis County jail to greet released prisoners with hot coffee and provide rides home.The violence of the University of Texas, Austin Police Department, Greg Abbott and DPS deeply affected our community and left little time for writing a monthly roundup. We didn’t stop our organizing, though, and had a May full of activities in support of Palestine and workers. We also held our yearly chapter convention and inaugurated a new Leadership Committee who will continue the struggle for the next year.

In the past month…

  • We kicked off the month with our second annual May Day Job Fair. Ten unions were on site to talk to job applicants about the work they do, how to get hired, and how to help develop more union density and militancy in Austin. When it started misting, we threw up a tent to cover the bands and played on. We munched on giant grilled burritos and listened to local bands Ama, Medieval Snails, Pony Soprano, Provoked Emotions, and Gummy Fang and had an all around great time.

  • As part of the Austin for Palestine coalition, we participated in the 76th remembrance of Nakba Day at the Capitol, and the emergency protest for Rafah. Members continue to pressure the City Council at each council meeting to stand up for Palestine.

  • We continued to support workers, participating in the Food Service Workers picket line at Meta and showing up for Integral care workers to demand Just Cause termination and an employee ombudsmen. Nationally, DSA is supporting the workers of UAW 4811 who are striking in response to the University of California’s harsh response to pro-Palestinian protests, and DSA Labor is matching donations to their hardship fund.

The post Austin Socialist News Bulletin first appeared on Red Fault.

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Lawrence Cafeteria Workers Rally for Their Fair Share

By Matthew Walsh

Cafeteria workers in Lawrence, MA are “always the last in everything,” said Arelis Pujols.

Pujols is a cafeteria worker at the Frost School in Lawrence, and she has seen cafeteria workers passed over for raises, professional development stipends, and improvements to paid time off, among other benefits. Pujols is also a steward on the bargaining committee of Lawrence Cafeteria Workers (Local 3, NCFO, 32BJ/SEIU) that is preparing for contract negotiations with Lawrence Public Schools. Formal contract negotiations have not yet been initiated, but time is of the essence. When the school year closes, income for many cafeteria workers dries up. The bargaining committee is eager to secure certain benefits before the term ends – such as a $5,500 stipend that other food service professionals in the school have already received. 

On May 15, Lawrence Cafeteria Workers held the “Rally for a Fair Contract” to launch their campaign for fair wages and equitable benefits. There have been two other rallies since, on May 24 and May 31. 

Ms. Pujols recounted a time when, earlier this year, cafeteria workers watched their colleagues receive a 2.5% market adjustment raise, but cafeteria workers have not received the higher rate. “Our salary is not enough to pay for anything,” explains Pujols. The cafeteria workers demand a fair, living wage, which Pujols believes could be $27-$30 per hour, although the bargaining committee has not yet made an official opening proposal.

Another pressing demand is a $5,500 stipend for maintaining a ServSafe certification, a qualification for safe food preparation practices. Last year, Lawrence Cafeteria Workers secured this stipend after demonstrating that they held similar roles and faced equivalent certification requirements to workers in a different bargaining unit, Lunch Aides, that had successfully negotiated the stipend. This year, they are again fighting for the stipend, hoping to secure it before Lawrence Public Schools partially close at the end of June. Last year, the stipend was disbursed on June 23. Pujols noted how important that money was for cafeteria workers’ families that summer. 

The kickoff rally took place in front of the Lawrence Public Schools District Office, featuring signs, chants, and a picket. The event drew the attention of then-interim superintendent Juan Rodriguez, who stepped outside to speak with the participants. Mr. Rodriguez’s interim tenure ended on May 31, with Ralph Carrero, the director of a local charter school, confirmed as the next superintendent of Lawrence Public Schools.

The Lawrence Cafeteria Workers’ bargaining committee will present their demands for a living wage and equitable benefits to the district in the coming weeks. Pujols invited community members and allies to support their fight by participating in future rallies, advocating for the cafeteria workers’ demands to public officials in Lawrence, and staying engaged for future ways to get involved.

Matthew Walsh is a DSA member and labor market researcher in Boston, MA

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Weekly Roundup: June 4, 2024

🌹Tuesday, June 4 (6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.) 📚How to Be an Organizer (Zoom)

🌹Tuesday, June 4 (6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.) Jackie Fielder Latino Democratic Club Debate (In person at Mission Neighborhood Center, 362 Capp)

🌹Tuesday, June 4 (7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.): Mutual Aid Priority Meeting (Zoom)

🌹Wednesday, June 5 (6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.): New Member Happy Hour at Zeitgeist (In person at Zeitgeist, 199 Valencia)

🌹Thursday, June 6 (6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.): Palestine Solidarity Working Group (Zoom)

🌹Friday, June 7 (12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.): Office Hours (In person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Friday, June 7 (6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.): The Battle of Algiers Film Screening (In person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Saturday, June 8 (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.): Extreme Dean Door Knock Mobilization (Meet at TBD)

🌹Saturday, June 8 (11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.): Homelessness Working Group Office Hours (In person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Saturday, June 8 (1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.): Homelessness Working Group Independent Outreach (In person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Saturday, June 8 (1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.): Homelessness Working Group Platform / Education (In person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Sunday, June 9 (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.): Jackie Fielder Campaign Mobilization (Meet at 3389 26th St)

🌹Monday, June 10 (6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.): Environmentalism From Below: How Global People’s Movements Are Leading the Fight for Our Planet (Zoom)

🌹Wednesday, June 12 (6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.): 📚What is DSA? (In person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Saturday, June 15 (9:45 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.): 2024 Chapter Convention Day 1 (In person at UNITE HERE Local 2, 209 Golden Gate)

🌹Saturday, June 15 (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.): Jackie Fielder Campaign Mobilization (Meet at TBD)

🌹Sunday, June 16 (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.): Extreme Dean Door Knock Mobilization (Meet at TBD)

🌹Sunday, June 16 (11:45 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.): 2024 Chapter Convention Day 2 (In person at UNITE HERE Local 2, 209 Golden Gate)

Check out https://dsasf.org/events for more events.

Extreme Dean Mobilization this Saturday!

Join the Dean Preston campaign this upcoming Saturday, June 8th at 10 a.m. at TBD location. With our opposition’s campaign kicking into gear, we’re ready to meet our neighbors in D5 and prove that socialists can stand together to beat back billionaire trash. Come on out and do some door-knocking with us!

Join Jackie Fielder’s Campaign in the Mission this Sunday!

Come visit Jackie Fielder’s campaign office and help grab voter IDs. Meet at 3389 26th St (26th & Mission) this Sunday June 9 at 10 a.m.!

Can’t come to the mob? You can volunteer any day of the week! Activities include phone banking, door knocking, joining the team at the Mission farmer’s market and much more. Office hours for the week of the June 3rd are 12 – 7 p.m. Monday thru Thursday!  Stop by or call/text (502) 930-9500 to get involved.

Battle of Algiers, Friday, June 7th. Starts at 6:00 p.m., 1916 McAllister St. RSVP: DSASF.org/Algiers

Chapter Movie Night: The Battle of Algiers 🍿

On Friday, June 7, join us for a film screening of Battle of Algiers. Battle of Algiers isn’t just a re-enactment of historical events but a powerful portrayal of the struggle for independence and the resilience of the occupied fighting against the occupier. It focuses on Algerian revolutionary fighter Ali La Ponte and his fight against the French occupation forces in Algiers, the capital city of Algeria, from 1954 to 1957 during the Algerian War of Independence. This film showing is as timely as ever as the fight for liberation continues in Palestine. This film was directed by an Italian communist who led the anti-fascist resistance against Nazi Germany and also had an actual FLN leader play as one of the characters, making this one of the most classic anti-imperialist films to date.

Food and drinks will be provided. Masks are highly recommended.

DSA SF endorses The Community Transit Act ballot measure for MUNI funding. dsasf.org

Signatures for ComMUNIty Transit Act

DSA SF is endorsing the ComMUNIty Transit Act, a ballot measure to tax Uber and Lyft to fund Muni! Transportation should be a human right – not a way for corporations to profit by harming workers and the planet. Help us gather signatures to get the ComMUNIty Transit Act on the ballot.

DSA SF Convention 2024 Bake Sale, 10AM-4PM, Local 2 @ 209 Golden Gate Ave. Saturday, June 15th, 2024

DSA SF Convention Bake Sale

Calling all DSA SF bakers! Chapter convention is coming up fast, and we’ll be having a bake sale on the first day of convention (Saturday, June 15th). Sign up to contribute to the bake sale here and show off your best baked goods!

The 2024 Chapter Convention is Coming Soon!

It’s all hands on deck as we prepare for the 2024 Chapter Convention this June 15th and 16th (just a few weeks away)! Here are some handy reminders for the next few weeks to help you get ready.

  • June 15th and 16th – Chapter Convention!
    • Elections for Steering and Grievance Officers
    • Reportbacks from outgoing chapter priorities
    • Annual reportbacks from all chapter bodies
    • Vote on 2024-2025 Chapter priorities
    • Vote on proposed bylaws amendments
    • Ratify chapter body charters and body-elected co-chairs
    • Elections for priorities and all chapter bodies (except CCC)
    • Nominations open for CCC co-chairs
  • July 10th – July Chapter Meeting
    • Elect Priority Leads, CCC Co-Chairs, and all other chapter-elected co-chairs and board members

DSA SF Social: Oakland Ballers Game at Raimondi Field

Come root for the Oakland Ballers Friday, June 28th at 6 p.m. as they take on the Northern Colorado Owlz. The Oakland Ballers, nicknamed the Oakland B’s, are an independent baseball team that will play in the Pioneer League in 2024, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball but is an MLB Partner League.

Please RSVP by June 10 so we have an accurate headcount for buying tickets!

The Chapter Coordination Committee (CCC) regularly rotates duties among chapter members. This allows us to train new members in key duties that help keep the chapter running like organizing chapter meetings, keeping records updated, office cleanup, updating the DSA SF website and newsletter, etc. Members can view current CCC rotations.

Questions? Feedback? Something to add?

We welcome your feedback. If you have comments or suggestions, send a message to the #newsletter channel on Slack.

For information on how to add content, check out the Newsletter Q&A thread.

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Maine Mural: Socialism and Economics – A Crash Course

In 2021, Maine DSA held a crash course session on Marx and Economics featuring retired teacher and author, Howard Engelskirchen. Howard is author of Capital as a Social Kind: Definitions and Transformations in the Critique of Political Philosophy, as well as a number of scholarly articles about Marxist theory. Today, Maine Mural brings you a recording of that educational session.

The post Maine Mural: Socialism and Economics – A Crash Course appeared first on Pine & Roses.

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No School Closures: Tax the Rich

School Closures Threaten Our Communities. On May 8, during “teacher appreciation week,” the Seattle School Board voted unanimously to consider:

  1. in summer 2025: closing 20 of our 70 elementary schools. This plan would disrupt thousands of families, force student relocations, and jeopardize educator jobs. It would be the largest school closure in the US since Chicago in 2013.
  2. immediately: reduce school budgets by around $5.7 million
  3. immediately: increase class sizes in secondary schools from 30:1 to 31:1. 
Photo of protest on May 28, 2024

[You can find this article as a leaflet (pdf) here  | The Seattle Caucus of Rank-And-File Educators in SEA (SCORE) has put together this leaflet | Please also consider signing this petition against school closures]

School Closures Do NOT Save Money

The argument is that school closures will save money so we  can magically have fully funded and resourced schools. Everyone knows that school closures don’t save money:

▶ The Seattle Times (May 9) says significant savings are unlikely simply due to building closures without staff layoffs

▶ The website The Urbanist reports (May 15): “Superintendent Jones also said in 2023 that closing schools would not provide immediate budget savings and that savings may not materialize for two to five years. In a recent podcast interview with KUOW, school board president Liza Rankin also acknowledged that their closure plan might not save money. Since the majority of SPS’s spending is on staff, savings would only come through mass teacher layoffs.” 

▶ The experience with school closures all around the country shows: closures do not save money. Closures hurt public education, students and families as well as educators. 

Not the superintendent, not the School Board – no one believes that closures lead to better funded schools with more staff. Why are they promising educators and families a “system of well-resourced elementary schools” while moving in the opposite direction? 

⬛ Intended or not, the School Board and the Superintendent are giving up on high quality, well funded public education for all of our diverse students, families and communities. Instead, they are pushing the school system in to a downward spiral where lower quality schools will lead to more parents pulling their kids from public schools, thus worsening the enrollment and funding shortfalls.

⬛ Intended or not, this is a plan that will result in significant cuts in the number of educators. 

The Result will be Privatization and Charter Schools

  1. This is an austerity plan that will lead to worse education for students: Class sizes will get larger. There will be less staff per student. Schools will be less rooted in our communities, more anonymous, and less able to serve the many different needs of our diverse communities.
  2. It will lead to an increase in the number of charter schools and  privatization of public education. As the The Urbanist (May 15) wrote: 
    • “Under state law, if a public school district closes a school, and they put it up for lease or sale, charter schools have the right of first refusal to rent or buy that building. Unless SPS plans to leave 20 school buildings closed and gathering dust, this plan could initiate the privatization of nearly two dozen public schools.” 
  3. This is a plan that will lead to a death spiral of public education: Declining enrollment is used as an argument for cuts that lower the quality of education, which leads to further declines in enrollment. This will only increase economic and racial injustice.

There are alternatives to cuts and closures:

1) Tax the Rich to Fund Our Schools: Seattle Public Schools claim in their email to all families (May 9) that there is no alternative to school closures: “If we maintain the current system, we will need to reduce services.” We say: Let’s change the current system where corporations receive welfare and schools are underfunded. 
School Districts all around Washington State face the same challenges and are about to cut education. This is unacceptable.  

Seattle, Washington State, and the federal government have failed to adequately fund education. Washington is one of the wealthiest states in the US, yet our schools are suffering. It’s time to tax the rich and Big Business who are raking in record profits.

2) We Need More, Not Less: Our schools are losing students, but the answer isn’t bigger classes and closures. We need smaller class sizes, stronger community ties, and a focus on individual development, inclusion, and both academic and social growth. Closing schools pushes us in the wrong direction and will only encourage more families to leave the public system. We need strong community schools.

3) Unused Space is an Opportunity: The district claims low building capacity (around 65%) as a reason for closures. This is a perfect chance to reduce class sizes without extra costs! Especially after the challenges our children faced during Covid, we need to prioritize smaller class sizes to support student learning and development. Our elementary schools should not have any classes larger than 18 students.
If we accept closing 20 elementary schools now, it will be much harder to get to smaller class sizes in the future – and that’s what students, families, and educators need!

The obstacles we face:

1) The political system is broken: We’re tired of politicians prioritizing corporate interests over our schools. The Democratic Party controls Seattle, Olympia and the White House. Billions go to corporate welfare, while our tax system unfairly burdens working-class families. When Boeing demanded billions in support, a special session in 2013 passed $8.7 billion of corporate welfare in a special session of the legislature. If that’s possible for one of the richest corporations on this planet, why can’t we do this for our students, families, and educators, for economic and racial justice in our communities?

2) The School Board is on the wrong track. We demand the School Board members reject all school closures, all austerity on the backs of our children and our communities, and to fight with us to demand Olympia provides the funding our students deserve.

Together we have the Power to Win:

A) The educators’ union (SEA), the parent associations, students and families, and many more are needed to come together to fight for fully-funded schools. Let’s build a strong movement to defend public education and win the funding for it by taxing the rich and big business.

B) If working people are going to win high-quality education, affordable housing, living wages, Medicare for All, and to stop the US funding for wars around the globe, we need to get organized, come together in strong movements, and build our own political party.  We need a political revolution against the billionaire class. That’s why we are working to build an alternative to the Wall Street Democrats and the even more dangerous far-right Republicans. If you are not a member of DSA yet, join us today: SeattleDSA.org/join

C) We are fighting for a democratic socialist society – a society based on human need, not corporate greed. A society where we have democratic control over the huge wealth that working class people produce and can use in the interests of the many, not the few.

[You can find this article as a leaflet (pdf) here  | The Seattle Caucus of Rank-And-File Educators in SEA (SCORE) has put together this leaflet | Please also consider signing this petition against school closures]

The post No School Closures: Tax the Rich appeared first on Seattle Democratic Socialists of America.

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the logo of Boston DSA

Celebrate Pride 2024 with Boston DSA!

Boston, MA — It is the chapter leadership for Boston DSA, the 2024 – 2025 Coordinating Committee. Happy Pride month!! Here are some upcoming events related to queer liberation.

DSA QUEERS FOR PALESTINE: FUNDRAISER & SOCIAL

To celebrate pride month, a group of LGBTQ+ DSA members are to host a party Saturday, June 8th from 8 pm to 1 am at the Democracy Center in Cambridge. There will be food and music.

The event will double as a fundraiser for Al Qaws, an organization working in support of Palestinian LGBTQ+ people, and the Boston chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement. 

**You don’t need to be a DSA member to attend.** Please RSVP here so we know how much food to get.

Join us Saturday for community, to reject pinkwashing, and show your pride for Palestine.

JOIN BOSTON DSA AT DYKE MARCH

A tradition for nearly three decades, Boston Dyke March is a grassroots Pride event that believes in anti-capitalist, intersectional gender liberation. Boston DSA members excitedly plan to participate again this year for the Friday, June 7th 6:30 pm march.

If you’re a DSA member who either (1) plans to attend and wants to connect with other comrades marching and/or (2) wants to help the chapter table at the event: check out this thread in our Discord

(Not yet a DSA member, but want to plug into these efforts? Become a DSA member here and then join BDSA’s Discord server — note the onboarding instructions in the “#rules” channel).

BOSTON PRIDE LIBERATION CONTINGENT 

A contingent of queer/trans and pro-Palestine orgs committed to a Pride without pinkwashing plan to meet this Saturday, June 8th at 11:30 am. They will gather at the intersection of Berkeley St and Boylston St. See more on Instagram here.

This effort comes in the wake of Boston Pride for the People collaborating with the Israeli Consulate twice in the last year.

 

JOIN THE PALESTINE WORKING GROUP AT PRIDE! 

Attending Pride? Angry about the genocide in Gaza but unsure what to do? Join the Palestine Working Group to clipboard at the Dyke March and Pride Parade this week! We’re out every weekend talking to everyday people about the war, how our politicians are abetting the genocide, and what we can do about it when we fight! Sign up here: https://bdsa.us/pwg-clipboarding

QUEERS AND WHORES: HAND IN HAND FOR LIBERATION
Come join the Boston Sex Workers and Allies Collective and the Stonewall Liberation Organization for Queers and Whores: Hand In Hand For Liberation!

This will be an educational discussion as well as an action-taking event that will cover the intersections of the fight for sex worker rights and queer/trans liberation. 

This hybrid event will take place on Friday, June 14th, at 7:30 pm near Central Square in Cambridge, MA, and online. Let’s take action together! RSVP here.

In solidarity,

Boston DSA’s 2024 – 2025 Coordinating Committee

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Manifesting the “General Strike”

Manifesting the “General Strike”

by Rich J

NOTE: The text of this essay is based on a speech given at ROC DSA’s annual May Day Picnic, held May 5, 2024.

One of the reasons this holiday is so meaningful to me is that our fellowship is not just with each other. It’s with workers who have been struggling in our cause across time—back to the Haymarket martyrs, and all the way to the first worker who said “why am I working my ass off so someone else can make money?” Our cause is historically just, and we will own the future as long as we acknowledge and celebrate our past.

Toward that end, I want to talk today about the concept of the general strike. If you’ve spent any time in left organizing spaces over the past ten or twenty years, especially online, you’ve probably heard people say “we’re having a general strike! Everyone out!” And then predictably, nothing happens. It’s almost an inside-joke among left organizers that if you say “general strike,” they’re the magical words that will make everyone go out of work.

Speaking of our fellowship across time, I was reading Rosa Luxemburg’s famous book The Mass Strike, which she wrote in 1906 as a response to the Russian Revolution of 1905. And the very first paragraph is her citing an 1873 Frederick Engels essay critiquing the anarchists’ theory of the general strike: “The general strike, in the Bakuninists’ program, is the lever which will be used for introducing the social revolution. One fine morning all the workers in every industry in a country, or perhaps in every country, will cease work, and thereby compel the ruling class either to submit in about four weeks, or to launch an attack on the workers so that the latter will have the right to defend themselves, and may use the opportunity to overthrow the old society. The proposal is by no means new: French and Belgian socialists have paraded it continually since 1848, but for all that is of English origin.” That fellowship with our peers in the past includes calls for general strikes as magical words that we whisper and hope will make them materialize. 

There’s an understandable allure to it, because the general strike is like the working class’ atom bomb. Or, if you prefer a less fraught metaphor, our dragon. It’s a weapon that can’t be defeated. There’s no defense against it. If we can stop our labor, if we can put our tools down, we bring an end to the thing that gives capitalists their power—our surplus labor. On the other hand, we must recognize the problems with it: We depend on each other to work as well. If we all go out of work, we have to create alternative ways of organizing our society in order to make it function at all. This of course is the point, but it is the challenge around which we organize.

I want to talk about a couple historic general strikes. Moments where workers did go out en masse, and workers did fight for these alternative futures through this tactic of the general strike. 

The first general strike I want to talk about is one that is currently politically relevant for us. It’s the 1936 Arab general strike – the Palestinian-Arab general strike that kicked off the Arab revolt, which lasted from 1936-39. If you’re not familiar with the context of the 1936 Arab strike, at the time Palestine was under control of the British Empire. It was a mandate with the imprimatur of the League of Nations, which was another way of saying it was a colony of the British Empire. And the British Empire ruled Mandate Palestine like it ruled all its colonies: through a divide-and-conquer strategy of privileging certain ethnicities and elites over others. What made Mandate Palestine different from say, India or Kenya, was that among the elites who were privileged were Zionist settlers who were given special rights to immigrate to Palestine, and then once in Palestine were given special authority to rule and to buy land, and to otherwise displace and dispossess native Palestinians.

Palestinians being searched at gunpoint by British police. SOURCE: Library of Congress

After fifteen years of divided, fractured, ineffective opposition to British rule and to Zionist settlement, a number of Palestinian organizations, starting with the dockworkers in Jaffa, laid down their tools and called for a general strike. And this time, the general strike took off. The conditions were ripe for the general strike to come into being because it was a national liberation movement. It was the first real organized blow of a decolonization war against the British Empire and against their Zionist props in Mandate Palestine. And so over the course of the next six months, Palestinian workers in Jaffa, Haifa, and Jerusalem, stayed off work despite repeated attempts to force them back on the job. To force them back to making goods transport, to getting the port operational. And the general strike under the force of this repression eventually evolved into an open rebellion; an armed revolt that lasted for the next three years and unfortunately ended in the brutal suppression of the Palestinian movement in that moment of unity and organization toward a potential better future—one free of colonization and one free of Zionist settlers.

Even though this general strike was a failure, what it showed was the political possibilities embedded in working-class self-organization. It wasn’t that they were just fighting for better wages or better conditions on the docks, they were fighting for their own future, for their own vision of a better society. That’s what’s possible in a general strike. That’s what makes it so tantalizing as a goal for us to work toward.

The second general strike I want to talk about is one that happened ten years later, in Rochester New York. The Rochester general strike of 1946. That’s right, folks: Rochester has a militant labor history, if you didn’t know. It’s there, and I’m happy to talk about it at length to anyone who will listen. 

Unlike the decolonization struggle of the Palestinians, the general strike of Rochester in 1946 was much more focused on job security in the aftermath of World War Two. During World War Two, the United States Government effectively took over the economy. It was the organized productive might of the world working class—of Russians, British, French, and Americans—that defeated the Nazis. It wasn’t the free-market capitalists. But after the war ended, the United States government was very committed to ending all that control. So wage controls, price controls—those went away pretty quickly. And the capitalists spent the year after World War Two trying to reassert their power. Trying to get wages back down, trying to get workers back under control. Unions across the United States understood this to be a critical moment. There were multiple strikes nationwide, to the extent that 1946 was in some ways a nation-wide rolling general strike of which the Rochester General Strike was a small piece. 

What happened in Rochester, was the City government—at the time we didn’t have a Mayor, we had a City Manager—got into a labor dispute with the City Public Works Department, and he responded by firing all of them. Five-hundred workers, almost, were put out of work with the intention of replacing them with privately contracted workers. A very familiar story to many of us: taking good, high-paying, government union jobs and finding much lower-paying private sector jobs to replace them with. The response among the local unions was immediate. They treated this as an emergency. They called all their assemblies together and started organizing immediately to pressure the City government to restore the sanitation workers and to recognize their union, the predecessor to AFSCME—American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

Over the course of two weeks in May 1946, the local unions under their still divided umbrellas—AFL and CIO had not come back together yet, they were still at odds with each other—for this moment, came together to fight and staged increasingly intense pickets against the city government. There was one picket outside the Dewey Avenue garage where police arrested fifty protesters. There was another one where police arrested more than two-hundred protesters. Some people say it’s still the largest mass arrest in Rochester Police Department history. I don’t know if that’s still true after 2020, but it’s still up there. There was a patriotic convention at Eastman Theatre, and the picketing workers—many of whom were recently returned World War Two veterans—went to Eastman Theatre, entered the Theatre, and protested inside the Theatre to break up the convention. They were there to highlight the contradictions between the city elite celebrating patriotism, while pushing the veterans of World War Two who had just defeated the Nazis, out of the job. These same vets made the connection explicit, repeatedly comparing the city administration to the Gestapo.

This all led to a labor holiday. That’s what they called it. On May 28, the city labor unions called for every worker in the city, with the exception of restaurant workers and people delivering vital services like food, delivering milk, etc., to walk off the job and gather for a mass rally in Washington Square Park. And anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 workers in Rochester did not go to work that day. There was no transportation running. There were no businesses open, except for the ones mandated by the strike committee. There was a pure work stoppage citywide. 

This general strike worked. The next day, the city government came to terms with labor leaders, rehired the Public Works workers who had been fired, and recognized AFSCME as a legitimate representative of public workers in the city of Rochester. So this one day of action, after two weeks of build up, succeeded in rescuing the cause of labor in the city of Rochester from a moment of crisis and peril. Again, this shows the power of a general strike. Just one day of lost labor shut the city down. It showed that we are in fact all essential workers, and they depend on us to make everything work. And if we stop working, their power goes away very fast. 

I don’t share all this to enchant us with the magical words general strike. But I do want you to circle a date in your mind, or in your calendars: May 1, 2028. Shawn Fein and the United Auto Workers have purposely set May 1, 2028, as the date their contracts expire, and they’re calling on other union leaders in the country to negotiate their contracts such that their contracts also expire on May 1, 2028. Shawn Fain isn’t just saying the words “general strike,” he’s putting organizing muscle behind it. And so May 1, 2028, promises to be a general strike. It promises to be a moment where we as workers can come together and actually achieve the possibilities of a general strike. To achieve more politically and in the workplace than we’ve ever been able to before, at least since World War Two. 

So to that end, we have four years to organize for this. And so this is my challenge to all of us: The next four May Days ought not be just picnics, they ought to be organizing events. We need to start thinking about how we’re going to organize ourselves as a chapter, as workers, as oppressed peoples of this world, to build toward that general strike. Because this is our hope. We have a date, we have a time, we just need to start getting ourselves prepared for it. And so on this May Day, I wish you the very best. And I wish for us all to have a better future four years hence. I hope we’re all here again on May 1, 2028. (Or after, I don’t know when the dates are actually going to fall for a picnic.) But we’ll be celebrating something, I promise you that. So Happy May Day comrades. I’m very pleased to see you all here, and I look forward to the struggles ahead and May days to come.

The post Manifesting the “General Strike” first appeared on Rochester Red Star.

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Against King Car

Historic revolutions have freed people from kings or czars. It is time for a new revolution, a revolution against an institution that enslaves Americans — a revolution against cars. Americans have developed Stockholm Syndrome when it comes to cars and turn a blind eye to the pain and suffering they cause. It is time for Americans to mobilize against the car-centric infrastructure and institutions that our society has created. 

The tyranny of car-centric infrastructure is seen in the seas of concrete that most Americans live in today. It has become standard for American families to avoid walking. Instead, we have let our health and well-being become undermined by the institutions that encourage car ownership. Parking minimums and mandates in many American cities, especially the suburbs, have created a culture that has destroyed the walkability of towns. 

The policies that require minimum parking spots are also an example of how American society perpetuates a cycle of inequity. Car prices continue to rise at unprecedented rates, putting them out of reach for America’s poor. Those who cannot afford cars are unable to use car-centric infrastructure to get to where they need to be. Cars should not be the only option for people to go to and from their jobs, shopping, and other places. The fact that cars have become the de facto mode of transport is a testament to American society’s inability to accommodate anybody who cannot use a car.

The trend is clear: the American elite does not care about people who don’t help their bottom line. Since cars are becoming more expensive, having large parking lots breaking apart cities and extremely wide highways and roads causes inequity by making it ridiculously hard for those who do not have cars to live. It is time for us as Americans to make a change. We cannot continue to let our local governments choke our infrastructure and let cars rule. Americans need to demand better infrastructure, and parking minimums stand in direct opposition to that goal. 

Parking minimums and the expansion of wide streets and highways are often at odds with principles that prioritize social equity, environmental sustainability, and community well-being — principles at the core of the socialist movement. These policies tend to promote car-centric development and corporate interests, exacerbating social disparities. They can encourage a heavy reliance on personal vehicles, contributing to environmental harm and disproportionately burdening lower-income individuals. Additionally, the development of wide streets and highways can lead to the displacement of vulnerable communities and divert resources away from public transportation initiatives that could benefit a broad cross-section of the population. These urban planning choices hinder the pursuit of more inclusive, environmentally friendly, and economically balanced urban environments. 

It is time for a paradigm shift in envisioning and shaping our urban environments toward greater social equity, environmental sustainability, and community well-being. The unchecked tyranny of car-centric infrastructure perpetuates inequality and environmental degradation. Members and supporters of DSA can catalyze change by advocating for policy reforms and participating in local government to promote balanced, inclusive urban planning. These campaigns can build useful coalitions with transit workers like in Louisville DSA’s work with Amalgamated Transportation Union local 1447 to better fund the city’s bus system. They also give DSA a chance to distinguish themselves as advocates for current and future transit riders in comparison to risk-averse local leadership and die-hard exponents of automobile dominance. In Indianapolis, DSA City Council member Jesse Brown confronted efforts in the Indiana legislature to scotch a major bus line project. His public fight distinguished him from go-along, get-along members of Democratic leadership who hoped to secure a backroom deal and helped mobilize supporters of a stronger transit system.

 Organizing for better public transit is hard, but we can start by demanding vibrant, walkable neighborhoods and accessible, affordable public transportation. This is a revolution for a future where all can thrive, free from the constraints of car dependency.

The post Against King Car appeared first on Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).