Introducing… Staten Island! Let’s hear it for Socialism in the 5 Boroughs!
DSA members on Staten Island are currently forming an Organizing Committee and will soon apply to become a branch of NYC-DSA.
Since their launch last August, the group has met monthly to discuss presentations on the local Amazon warehouse, electoral politics, housing issues related to the Bay Street rezoning, and Medicare for All. The online ballot, due February 1, asks the nearly 30 Staten Island DSAers to vote on whether to make NYC-DSA’s Medicare for All campaign its priority project.
Early meetings have averaged about twenty attendees, with roughly have of those in attendance being current DSA members. Participants are mostly Staten Island residents, with residences throughout the borough. Currently, meetings are being held at various locations around the island to accommodate the geographically diverse membership. South Brooklyn DSA has informally adopted the new group, with organizers wishing to offer special thanks to Abdoullah Y, Marcello N, Katie L and Zuzanna J, and Jared Watson for making the trip over the Verrazano Bridge to give presentations and provide organizing tips.
Shoutouts are also due to Brooklyn members who explained how the Working Groups work: Bianca C for Racial Justice, Noah W for Brooklyn Electoral Group, Natalie J for Socialist Feminism, and Zuzanna for Immigrant Justice.
Nearly 200 people attended Queens DSA's candidates’ forum for Queens District Attorney on January 17, where they pressed candidates about how they would reduce mass incarceration and decriminalize poverty, while also stepping up criminal prosecutions of bosses who cheat workers out of wages and landlords who abuse tenants. Three candidates showed up: Councilmember Rory Lancman, public defender Tiffany L. Caban, and Jose Nieves, a prosecutor in the State Attorney General's office. A fourth candidate, Lorelei Salas, a senior official at the State Department of Labor who was previously the legal director for Make the Road, couldn't attend due to illness; she answered the same questions at the Electoral Working Group meeting the following week. (The two other candidates in the race, Borough President Melinda Katz and retired Judge and former Queens ADA Gregory Lasak, did not submit candidate questionnaires in time to address the group.)
The Electoral Working Group voted 17-0 to recommend that NYC-DSA endorse Caban, who articulated the most transformative view of the DA's office. Her campaign is being managed by DSA members Vigie Ramos Rios (who managed Ocasio's successful campaign for Congress) and Martha Ayon (who managed Jumaane Williams’ near-win for Lieutenant Governor). If at least 60% of attendees at the next Queens branch meeting vote in favor, the endorsement will go to the CLC for a final vote.
Queens DSA members also showed up for the formal launch of Queens for DA Accountability, a coalition of grassroots groups seeking progressive policies from a new DA. Coalition members hope to agree on a DA candidate to support; the other organizations have not voted yet.
The branch's Housing WG held a training for tenant organizers, and continued working with a community coalition to stop Amazon's HQ2 from gentrifying Queens. The branch's political education group held a teach-in about Amazon on January 22, so that members would have a more solid knowledge base while organizing.
This month, B/UM members canvassed in the Bronx for Universal Rent Control and in Harlem to fight New York schools' racist suspension practices. We had an organizing/mobilizer training to strengthen our mobilizer program and help our members improve at having one-on-one organizing conversations. Our Political Education Working Group organized a screening of the documentary "What Is Democracy?", including a Q&A with filmmaker Astra Taylor. At our January branch meeting, we heard from our CLC representatives about the proposals they'll be voting on at the upcoming CLC meeting; we discussed the proposals in small groups, and then voted in a straw poll to give our representative a sense of the membership's views on each proposal.
The Central Brooklyn membership development subcommittee held its second social in order to introduce new and prospective members into the organization. The branch also held an open forum during its branch meeting on January 23 to discuss upcoming NYC-DSA proposals and amendments ahead of February’s Citywide Leadership Committee meeting. An open comment document related to the discussion can be found here.
We are holding a Labor Branch Conference Call to discuss the Citywide Leadership Committee proposals. If you are interested in discussing the proposals, call in on January 29, at 6:30 pm.
Call-in number: 515-739-1015
Access Code: 114646
In February, we will hold the next of our Labor Notes Style trainings: Turning an Issue into a Campaign! The training will be held on Monday, February 11 from 6:30-9pm, and will continue our work in helping both DSA members and non-DSA union members in organizing their workplaces. This is a perfect event to bring a coworker to, as well as DSA members who are not currently involved in the Labor Branch.
We will be announcing focus industries for the Rank and File resolution ASAP. An email will go out to the citywide chapter.
Lower Manhattan DSA sees 2019 as a highly exciting year for democratic socialists. The branch will be participating in the campaigns for M4A single-payer health care and against Amazon HQ2, talking to New Yorkers about what a brighter, fairer future could look like. They'll have political education starting back up again in the coming weeks, helping members articulate their analyses of capitalism and rationale for being Socialists. The branch also anticipates the upcoming Bernie 2020 presidential run will help catalyze the DSA’s political agenda into working class neighborhoods that are looking for real solutions to the problems they face.
January 24 was their New Member Social to introduce newcomers to the branch and demystify the organization’s politics to curious residents of the district. The January general meeting saw discussion and voting for/against recommendations to the CLC on a number of important proposals facing the branch and the work they choose to prioritize.
NBK DSA started the year off on January 12 by welcoming 70 new members for a social and orientation hosted by the Rose Buds, their new members' committee. The NBK Political Education committee continues to educate all who desire it with bi-weekly Night School sessions, most recently on January 14 with Gender and Capitalism. Night School meets every two weeks and is open to all! The NBK Tenants' Committee braved January weather to canvass for Universal Rent Control on January 15. On January 20, they witnessed the in-district swearing-in of comrade Julia Salazar, state senator for NY-18. Their January general meeting, held on January 22, focused on refining branch bylaws and discussing proposals for the upcoming Citywide Leadership Committee.
NYC colleges and universities may be on winter break, but the student socialists of NYU YDSA are hard at work gearing up for a new semester. We’re laying the groundwork for massive student mobilizations around Bernie Sanders’ potential 2020 presidential bid, and getting ready to recruit new members as the semester kicks off.
We’re also working alongside comrades from City College and Hunter College YDSA to prepare for the YDSA National Winter Conference coming up this February 15-17th in the Bay Area. If you see us at a branch or working group meeting in the next couple of weeks, be sure to say hi!--and, if you’re able, donate to our fundraiser so we can afford to send as many working class students from New York City as possible.
In the new year, SBK has been busy with its political education work, hosting two film screenings in partnership with SFWG and Queer Caucus, related to the ACT UP movement during the AIDS crisis. They also planned a book club on In Defense of Housing, and currently plan to host a talk, The Political Economy of Welfare, with Social Work Professor Joel Blau. They partnered with local groups to co-sponsor the annual Bay Ridge MLK Day March, and plan to partner with the Healthcare Working Group to support the Working Group's pressure campaign through SBK's branch campaign.