May 22, 2020 Weekly Update

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Support Metro DC DSA here - all donations go directly to the chapter.

Help the rent strikers of Southern Towers feed their families! Donated funds will be distributed to those most in need through the tenant organizing committee.


UP FRONT

Help rent strikers feed their families!

Laid off food service workers in UNITE HERE Local 23 are leading a rent strike in one of the largest apartment complexes in Northern Virginia, the 2,300-unit Southern Towers, managed by one of the largest apartment landlords in the country, Bell Partners. They have organized over 350 of their fellow tenants to support demands for canceled rent and better sanitation in the building. They say “No Job? No Rent!” Many of these tenants were working 2 or 3 jobs in food service, ride-share, taxi service, hospitality and airport jobs that have all taken the brunt of the COVID-19 shut down.

Please help them continue to organize by donating to the Metro DC DSA Labor Working Group Rent Strike fundraiser. Donated funds will be distributed to those most in need through the tenant organizing committee. Can you donate $5, $10, or $15 to support workers who have been laid off and are organizing to support their neighbors during this pandemic? Donate here.


THE WEEKEND AND UPCOMING

Monday, May 25: Queer Caucus Happy Hour 5-8 PM. See calendar below for more details.

Saturday, May 23: Regime Change and Climate Change: Connecting the Dots 4-5:30 PM


BRIEFS

Mutual Aid in Ward 7 and 8: Calling all comrades, your support is urgently needed east of the river! Ward 7 and 8 Have been hit by COVID-19 harder than other areas of our city, and the need for aid is not diminishing – volunteers have delivered groceries to as many as 120 households in a single day. At a time when we all feel isolated, you can show up for your fellow Washingtonians by bringing the bread and making some new (socially distant) connections with your neighbors in the process. This crisis of capitalism is scarcy, but we can keep each other safe! Sign-up to pack groceries or make deliveries in Wards 7 and 8, get an overview of the volunteer process with this handy volunteer guide, and learn more about mutual aid in DC from the DC Mutual Aid Network.

Phonebank for Mckayla Wilkes! Comrades, it’s been a tough year for the movement. But today we come with good news: in just 2 weeks, Mckayla Wilkes has an incredibly good chance at knocking off Steny Hoyer in what would be a stunning and historic victory. The vote-by-mail primary is already under way and the next 14 days are crucial, and the reports from the field show that - shockingly- voters don’t like Steny! All we have to do is tell enough people about Mckayla and she’ll win. Let’s bring that whole entire DSA grassroots ruckus and be a part of this triumph! Sign up for phonebanking shifts here. Want to learn more about Mckayla? Visit her campaign website. Questions? Reach out to volunteer@mckayla2020.com
Ryan, Emily, Dash, and Nathan

Speaking of elections: Maryland and the District are both conducting mail-in primary elections RIGHT NOW with deadlines (at this point) of June 2. Here are info and explainers from the DC Board of Elections; and you can check out this graphic to get MD voting details, created jointly by Progressive Maryland and our comrades in Greater Balitmore DSA

From Monday night’s Socialist Night School, “What Would a Socialist Response to COVID-19 Look Like?,” the FB livestream can be viewed here.


MDC DSA CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR MAY AND BEYOND

Monday, May 25 | 5:00 to 8:00 PM
Queer Caucus Happy Hour
The QSC will be having our monthly Happy Hour, for all Queer, Trans, and Nonbinary comrades, as well our allies and accomplices. Event is open to the public, DSA membership is not required. During this crisis, social connection is vital for our mental and emotional health. Please drop in, relax, chat, and (virtually) connect.

Tuesday, May 26 | 6:30 to 8:30 PM
Socialist Night School: Right-to-Work, Virginia Labor History and Jim Crow
In 2019, Oxfam rated Virginia the worst state in the nation for workers. “Right to work” laws have racist origins and disproportionately affect black and brown workers today. In this Night School session, we will provide a brief overview of the history of labor in Virginia, from slavery, to Right to Work’s Jim Crow origins, to why we need to end it today. This session will be part lecture, and part collaborative brainstorming of approaches and strategies to help advance our campaign to repeal right-to-work.

Thursday, May 28 | 7:00 to 8:30 PM
DSA NoVA USPS Postcard Blitz
NOVA Branch is answering the call from the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission (DSLC) to save one of the few remaining public services that is truly universal and one of the most diverse and largest unionized workforces in the US. Send postcards to your US House Rep, US Senators, and the President – purchase ours or make your own! Tell them your story about how USPS services and workers have been vital in your life and the lives of others. Order your DSA Postcards before May 27 here.

Sunday, May 31 | 6:00 to 8:00 PM
Q&A about DSA
Are you interested in joining DSA? Are you curious what being an active Democratic Socialist Organizer looks like? Jump on this national call to meet DSA Leaders, explore what it means to be a DSA member, and ask questions about DSA and the movement we’re building. This is a national DSA Call. You must RSVP to receive Zoom info here.

Sunday, June 7 | 2:00 to 4:30 PM
MoCo DSA General Branch Meeting
Please join us for our June branch meeting via Zoom!

Sunday, June 14 | 3:00 PM
MDCDSA General Body Meeting


NATIONAL DSA ONLINE HIGHLIGHTS

Here’s the latest COVID-19 Bulletin #12

Check out the Q&A about DSA on Sunday, May 31. Share with not-yet-organized comrades.

Thursday, May 28 | 8:00 PM
DSA Organizing School: Class 3
The training series will cover political analysis and organizing skills to build on the working-class movement that fueled Bernie Sanders historic run for the presidency and will be especially useful for Bernie supporters who want to get more integrated into DSA.

INFO ACCESS

Navigate and explore the expanding MDC DSA website and its resources!

Getting through this unprecedented time requires information resources for mutual aid and for individual and collective relief – as well as for organizing as socialists, now and later. You can find them on mdcdsa.org

PUBLICATIONS SCHEDULE: You are reading the last Update for May. The June issue of the Washington Socialist will be published Friday, May 29 with an article deadline tomorrow – Saturday, May 23. June Updates will be published Fridays, June 5, 12, 19 and 26 and the July issue of the Washington Socialist set to be published on Wednesday, July 1 with an article deadline of Thursday, June 25. As always, submissions are welcome at thesocialist@mdcdsa.org. We welcome all comments, questions, or observed issues with the new site from members; please send notices through the Red Desk or notify us in our #publications slack channel.


EVENTS BY OUR ALLIES IN THE DMV

Wednesday, May 20 | 8:00 to 10:00 PM
Building the Peace Monument Teach-In
Join us for a free teach-in on “Building the Peace Movement.” Bring your questions and suggestions. We’ll hear briefly from a number of key speakers before moving into Q&A. Numerous sponsors for this event, including Code Pink and World Beyond War.

Saturday, May 23 | 4:00 to 5:30 PM
Regime Change and Climate Change: Connecting the Dots
How US imperialist threats to Iran and Venezuela threaten the goal of keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Presenters include MDC DSA member and ecosocialist author David Schwartzman.

Sunday, May 24 | 6:00 PM
Webinar - How Can We all get Healthcare during a Global Pandemic
Sponsored in-state by Our Revolution Maryland and the Arundel Patriot.

Tuesday, May 26 | Begins 10:00 AM
Global Teach-in 2020: Democratize the Crisis
This global coronavirus pandemic response includes seminars and a global town meeting to identify problems and propose solutions for strengthening democratic institutions and profile key themes such as the need for and design requirements of a Green New Deal, media accountability and sustainable innovation – information, contact: [globalteachin@gmail.com](globalteachin@gmail.com], or contact @globalteachin. You can also visit Global Teach-in’s website or join their Facebook Group.

Thursday, May 28 | 5:00 to 7:00 PM
Virtual Re-Entry Forum
For returning citizens and their advocates to discuss the urgent needs of our community during the COVID-19 pandemic sponsored by The Justice Task Force of Progressive Prince George’s – including voter education/registration and immediate need for housing and the prevention of homelessness for those being released from prison. Questions can be directed to kendall@progressivemaryland.org.

Friday, May 29 | 12:30 PM
Community Budget Forum with DC Fiscal Policy Institute
The Mayor recently released her budget and it’s more important now than ever for DC residents to have their say in how the city spends its funds. You will have the opportunity to learn all about DC’s budget process, hear how COVID-19 has impacted the city’s spending, and ask questions about the budgeting process.

Saturday, May 30 | 10:00 AM to Noon
Reversing Global Warming: Introduction to Drawdown
Registration required. Sponsors include PG Environmental Forum and College Park Committee for a Better Environment.


COVID-19 NEWS

Click here to view our page dedicated to compiling local COVID-19 relief and resources links. We will begin collecting news and updates for COVID-19 relief and benefits specific news in this section of the Weekly Update.

May 19 - DC Council has approved new protections for homeowners and tenants. Only two Council Members voted no on rent repayment plans for single-family homes and small landlords - Chairman Mendelson and Councilmember Kenyon McDuffie (Ward 5). Crucially, this legislation would require landlords in D.C. to offer payment plans for rent to tenants who are facing financial hardship caused by the pandemic. And foreclosures and new court filings for evictions would be put on hold not only during the state of emergency — but for 60 days after it ends. Small landlords would also be required to offer repayment plans as well, thanks to a push from Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) and Charles Allen (Ward 6), which was rallied by allies across the DMV.

May 20 - The Mayor has begun eyeing a “reopen” date for DC of May 29. Although DC has remained on track in meeting metrics it has designated as pre-requisits reopening, the utility of opening so sooned is being questioned by city leaders within and outside the District’s government.

May 21 - The ReOpen DC Committee has released its first initial guidance, which is shocking in its lack of detail on equitable redevelopment. Despite 79 pages of commentary, there is little here that suggests a concerted or actionable plan for equitable abatement to the health and economic quandries faced by District residents. Although there are some signs that the committee has an eye on relevant issues, the report fails to commit to bolder plans. There is no mention of specific policies to address immigrant or undocumented populations; and although the report does recommend continuing the stay on evictions and calls for expanding rental assistance, it makes no mention of rent-control. Who is behind this plan? Washington City Paper released a good summary of the lobbyists and insiders staffing DC’s ReOpen Committee, which includes a bunch of local socialites and big-name developers.

May 21 - The May 21st Situational Report notes to be on the lookout for a ReOpen DC Checklist for beginning a phased reopening, with a plan to begin a limited reopening of the city on May 29th. The DC government had previously released four metrics they are using to inform their reopening status: community spread, testing capacity, health care system capacity, and public health system capacity. The qualifications the city needs to meet are summarized as follows:

  • 14-day decrease in community spread, as well as a trasmission rate less than 1 for 3 days (DC has currently had a <1 transmission rate for 9 days);
  • ability to test symptomatic, at-risk healthcare workers, essential workers, and close contacts of all new positive cases, which the city says it can do at this time;
  • <80% health care capacity for 7 days (currently the system is at 76% occupancy with 14 days <80%);
  • city capability to contact trace within 1 day, and track their close contacts within 2 days, although the city can only contact trace priority populations and their close contacts at this time.

As of May 20, 412 deaths have been contributed to COVID-19. Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8 have experienced more deaths relative to their share of the district population. African American populations are disproportionately represented in COVID-19 deaths in the District (77% of COVID related deaths).


GOOD READS

Harold Meyerson in the Prospect, on “The Uncertain Future for Workers” – not a casual thumb-sucker; this really drills dwon.

Sacoby Wilson, a professor of public health at UM College Park, has worked for many years to link environmental justice and the wider question of a just society. Here, with a focus on today’s crisis, is an account of his work, which is well known among environmental groups in Prince George’s County and throughout Maryland.

And, as Alejandro Reuss writes in Labor Notes, the privation and peril that follows a disaster like the pandemic is never an impersonal result of natural forces but the consequence of deliberate policy decisions and failures.

The Democracy Collaborative continues to roll out plans to move critical infrastructure – what amounts to public utilities, even though currently in private hands – into the public sphere. In this piece, we hear “The global spread of COVID-19 has shone a bright spotlight on both the vital need for reliable high-speed internet and the inadequacies of the for-profit, corporate model in delivering it.”

And here is David’s presentation on DC’s Budget Shortfall: Meeting the Challenge of Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Residents.

From our comrade Jules B, a look at scenarios for post-COVID-19 recovery by Bill Barclay, economist and member of the Chicago local(s), as posted with comments on the North Star Caucus blog.

A great review of how Uber seized control of DC’s regulatory framework in regards to ride-share businesses. The effects of this silent takeover are immediately compounded now, where unemployment claims now result in reduced collections for unemployment compensation.