Feb 17, 2023

Feb 17, 2023



  • Rally for rent striking tenants in Brightwood — TOMORROW, Saturday, February 18, 1pm

  • Sex Work Decriminalization Socialist Night School — next Thursday, February 23, 6:308pm

  • Want a free hat from the MDC DSA Merch Store? Recruit three comrades by March 1st!

Rally for rent striking tenants in Brightwood — TOMORROW, Saturday, February 18, 1pm

Tenants at buildings owned by notorious slumlords Khan Properties 16th St Heights have been rent striking for months to demand fixes to the numerous and longstanding issues in their buildings, including mice and cockroach infestations, poor maintenance, broken AC, leaks, mold and a lack of security, among many others. Tenants across four Khan buildings have been battling management, some for years — and while they’ve won battles, the slum conditions continue. Now the tenants are facing retaliatory eviction notices from management rather than fixes for their units.

Come show your support and help tenants fight back against their landlord! If you’ve always wanted to see what radical tenant struggles look like, Stomp Out Slumlords is holding a rally at 1355 Peabody Street NW on Saturday (tomorrow!!!), February 18th at 1pm to put pressure on management to stop retaliating, fix the buildings and do right by tenants. Councilmember Janeese Lewis George will be there to meet with tenants and tour the building.

For more details and questions, email tenants@mdcdsa.org.

Sex Work Decriminalization Socialist Night School — next Thursday, February 23, 6:308pm

You’re invited to the Sex Work Decriminalization Socialist Night School — happening both in-person and online from 6:30 to 8pm this Thursday, February 23rd! Attendees will hear the socialist argument for why we need to decriminalize sex work, and how sex work decriminalization relates to socialism, directly from HIPS, a local harm reduction services, advocacy and community engagement group. The Night School will include a Sex Work 101 presentation, a conversation debunking myths about sex work and a Q&A session. The event is being held in-person near Dupont Circle and through Zoom — make sure you sign up for the Zoom link and to be contacted about in-person attendance!

Want a free hat from the MDC DSA Merch Store? Recruit three comrades by March 1st!

At its meeting on February 15th, the Steering Committee resolved to launch a chapter Recruitment and Recommitment Drive ending on March 1st, the deadline for delegation apportionment for the DSA National Convention in August. The number of delegates is determined by the number of members in each chapter, and the more delegates we have, the more collective power we can wield on issues important to the growth and development of our chapter and organization as a whole. To sweeten the deal, we are going to redistribute some Metro DC DSA hats from our merch store. If you can recruit three new comrades by March 1st, we will give you a free hat of your choosing!

We are currently looking into generating unique recruitment links for members who would like to participate in the drive, so keep an eye out for more information on that — and on the National Convention — in the coming days! Additionally, if you would like to get involved in the Recruitment and Recommitment Drive more directly, please get in touch with Dieter L.M. (@dieter) on Slack or email dieter@mdcdsa.org!


MDC DSA General Body Meeting — Sunday, February 26, 7pm

The Metro DC DSA February General Body Meeting is scheduled this month on Sunday, February 26, 7 to 9pm. Sign up now.

Join the DSA Street Team: Two wheatpasting events coming up

You’re invited to attend two new opportunities to wheatpaste posters and spread the word about Chapter events and campaigns! On Saturdays, February 25th and March 4th, join the Political Education Working Group to get out word about the upcoming Walking Tour of Plutocratic DC. We’ll gather near the Columbia Heights Metro at 1pm both days and put up posters about the event. To join the Political Education team, email Taylor W at woodswt@gmail.com or Ashley S at ashleysheff14@gmail.com. Then, this President’s Day (and on Wednesdays going forward), join the #DecrimPoverty campaign for Wheatpasting Wednesdays, building support for their advocacy campaign for harm reduction and non-carceral solutions in the District. Sign up to help #DecrimPoverty using this form. These are great ways to get your hands dirty and build awareness of leftist events in the city — see you there!


Union Kitchen workers win back pay in NLRB settlement

For months, Union Kitchen owner Cullen Gilchrist has obstructed the organizing activity of his staff, engaging in consistent union-busting. Now, thanks to a National Labor Relations Board settlement, Union Kitchen will have to pay nearly $25,000 in back pay and front pay to five workers who were fired or faced discipline, which the workers allege was due to their participation in union organizing. DCist reports that “the settlement also requires Union Kitchen management to post a notice of workers’ unionization rights in prominent places in their workplaces, email the notice to workers and to read it aloud in a meeting. Management will be required to keep the post up for 60 days, and to send monthly photographic proof to NLRB officials.” Additionally, Union Kitchen management must allow UFCW Local 400 staff to enter Union Kitchen locations and talk to workers about working conditions and other union-related business. 

Despite this victory, Union Kitchen workers have yet to negotiate their first contract — a result of what Jonathan Williams, the communications director for UFCW Local 400, says is still more bad-faith acting from Union Kitchen management. Metro DC DSA has stood with Union Kitchen workers throughout their organizing drive, and will continue to support them as they fight for a fair contract!


Bowser, NPS proceed with McPherson Square eviction despite public outcry, residents’ concerns

Mayor Bowser and the National Park Service evicted more than 50 people living in an encampment at McPherson Park on the morning of Wednesday, February 15, despite opposition from DC residents, several DC councilmembers and those living in McPherson. Park police shut down the park to all people except one outreach team during the eviction, refusing to allow media or mutual aid providers to assist displaced residents. Many of the campers said they have nowhere to go, and the Washington Post reported that only 15 had been approved for housing assistance as of February 14 — meaning the eviction will only displace more DC residents, not provide them with any meaningful, long-term housing support. 

This is the latest in a series of encampment evictions that violently remove houseless District residents from their homes and disrupt their lives. Evictions make it more difficult to connect people to housing, separate residents from their community and destroy their tents and belongings during a time of year when nighttime temperatures are still regularly below freezing. 

As socialists, we know that housing for all is the only way forward. We will work to support our unhoused neighbors throughout the DMV and continue to organize for initiatives like the Green New Deal for Housing.

PG County residents: Take action to support union construction workers

From Union City: Demanding “local jobs for local people,” dozens of area building trades workers and their community and political allies rallied in Greenbelt Wednesday night. “I don’t know when we got into the business of trying to rip people off here in Prince George’s County,” said Progressive Maryland Executive Director [and MDC DSA member] Larry Stafford, “but everyone deserves a wage that can sustain a family here in Prince George’s County. And that applies to our school construction.” The rally was organized to support adoption of a project labor agreement (PLA) ensuring that a percentage of county workers are hired and that the construction jobs are union. The PLA is supported by a majority of the Prince George’s County Council, including Edward Burroughs III, Wala Blegay and Krystal Oriadha, all of whom attended and spoke at the rally. “We know that all across this county, all across the state, all across the East Coast, wage theft is rampant, misclassification is rampant,” said Burroughs. “We know that these large companies hire subcontractors and they exploit workers, and one of the greatest ways we can protect county workers is through a project labor agreement.”

If you’re a PG resident, CLICK HERE to send a letter supporting a PLA in Prince George’s County.

GWU nurses unionize for better patient care, nurse retention

The local labor movement continues its surge: Nurses at George Washington University announced their intent to form a union represented by the DC Nurses Association (DCNA) on Monday, writing that they “are driven by a desire to provide the safest, most compassionate and most patient-centered care possible.” Follow GWUH United on Twitter!

UMD’s grad workers, contingent faculty battle for union recognition through General Assembly action

The UMD labor coalition testified on Tuesday in the MD House Appropriations committee to support their collective bargaining bill, HB275. Members of the coalition decried the abusive working conditions created by a university system that has prioritized managerial control and administrative bloat over its staff, faculty and students. In the hearing, Delegate Kirill Reznik grilled the University System of Maryland (USM) admin for their “disingenuous” testimony: the dean of the UMD graduate school claimed grads make $37/hr, when many grads’ yearly stipend is $25,574. The higher-ed bill would allow faculty, adjuncts, postdocs and grad assistants in all Maryland public universities to bargain for a contract with the USM. Previous UMD labor bills have died in the Senate Finance committee, so the coalition is aiming to keep up momentum now that the midpoint of the legislative session is near. 

At the coalition’s request, MDC DSA’s steering committee Wednesday OKed adding the chapter logo to UMD graduates’ flyers and lit.

Stable Rents and Healthy Homes: A student town hall with Montgomery County Councilmembers — March 4, 12pm

Students and young people are hugely impacted by rising rents and housing insecurity. Yet, our voices often go unheard. Join Sunrise Silver Spring, Everyday Canvassing, MoCo Green New Deal and Montgomery County DSA for a student town hall, where we’ll bring together young people, tenants and councilmembers to share stories, get answers and uplift housing justice! Submit your questions for Montgomery County Councilmembers in advance here. RSVP here.

All are welcome to submit questions! But please note that event moderators will prioritize questions from students, young people and tenants.

Walking Tour of Plutocratic DC: Power and Capitalism — Saturday, March 18, 1pm

Sign-ups are open for the Plutocratic DC: Power and Capitalism Walking Tour, starting at 1pm on Saturday, March 18th! The Walking Tour will explore how institutions such as the Carlyle Group, Pepco and City Center DC create and maintain extreme wealth in the District — and how they reshape DC’s skyline and public spaces to make the city safe for capitalism. The Walking Tour will be led by Metro DC DSA Chapter members, who will use original research on private equity, public utilities and luxury real estate in DC to document how these entities exploit rentier capitalism and political connections to earn money at the expense of the 99%. The Walking Tour will explore what your electric bill, Taylor Swift’s original recordings and luxury handbag stores have in common — and how to take power back from our local plutocrats. The tour will connect attendees with campaigns to democratize DC and its power grid led by MDC DSA and We Power DC.

The tour will visit three sites in downtown DC after meeting at The Park at City Center (1098 New York Ave NW) at 1pm. The tour will adjourn at 2:45pm at 1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW after just under a mile of walking, then will be followed by an optional outdoor happy hour at Penn Quarter Sports Tavern. We will provide snacks and water on the tour, and public bathrooms are available along the route. Make sure to sign up in advance to get day-of notices around weather and to indicate your ability to volunteer.


Publications schedule: The last February Update will be sent on Friday the 24th, with the March issue of the Washington Socialist going out with the Friday, March 3rd Update. Articles for the March newsletter issue should be submitted by February 25 to thesocialist@mdcdsa.org.

About MDC DSA: The local chapter’s website is here. There is a rich array of info there for newer comrades who seek a campaign to embrace and for the DSA-curious to see how the campaigns interlock to dismantle capitalism and promote the socialist future. The road map of MDC DSA’s activism — campaigns, working groups, etc. — is here. And here is an introduction to the chapter including our branches covering the DMV. 

Also, explore our deep and current history in the topic-organized archive of articles in the Washington Socialist including a documented history of our chapter since the 1980s, developed from our own publications.

We learn, and relearn, to apply our thought and action as socialists in new and archived sessions of Socialist Night School. Check out also the range of our sponsored Reading Groups

An open and nonsectarian left organization like MDC DSA enables friends and foes to scan the most recently updated versions of the Steering Committee’s 2022 meeting minutes as well as 2022 General Body Meetings and our chapter leadership’s statements on events past and present.

Weekly Update Tip Line: The Metro DC DSA Tip Line is live. If you have news or events that you think should be promoted in the weekly Update, please submit it to the form above. Include your contact information and all possible details for consideration. Deadline is Thursdays at 4pm for the following Friday publication.


Saturday, February 18

1 – 3pm | Rally for Rent Striking Tenants in Brightwood

Thursday, February 23

6:30 – 8pm | Socialist Night School: Sex Work Decriminalization (hybrid)

6 – 8:30pm | MDC DSA Socialist Feminist Section Happy Hour (in person)

6:30 – 7:30pm | Social Housing Organizing Meeting (virtual)

Sunday, February 26

2 – 3:30pm | MoCo DSA February Branch Meeting (hybrid)

5pm | Internationalism Working Group Meeting (virtual)

7 – 9pm | MDC DSA February General Body Meeting


Community Table | Serve Your City / Ward 6 Mutual Aid

Saturday, February 18, Miner Elementary School (601 15 Street NE) will host their Community Table, at which neighbors can pick up free cleaning supplies, diapers, household items and more. The event will start at 11am.

Community Nutrition Wellness Series | DC Greens & I am WANDA

This Saturday kicks off the first class in a new nutrition education series from DC Greens and I am WANDA that will be offered every third Saturday from February through December this year. Events will include both in-person and online opportunities and will be led by nutritionists of color for tips on shopping, cooking for your health and preventing and managing chronic diseases on a budget. RSVP here.

Sad Plant Open House | Very Sad Lab

Bring in your sad plants for expert analysis and care by the Very Sad Lab team! Each month, Very Sad Lab will hold open clinic hours at the Eaton Hotel (1203 K St NW on the 1st floor). February’s event will be this Saturday, February 18 from 11:30am to 1:30pm, and Very Sad Lab will provide diagnosis / treatment and pots / planters in case of repotting.

Reel and Meal film explores freedom and dangers Black Americans face behind the wheel — Monday, February 20, 7pm

The New Deal Cafe’s Reel and Meal film for Black History Month is Driving While Black (2020), exploring the racism Black people experience while driving on the nation’s highways, starting in the early 1900s. Guided by the “Green Book,” Black families enjoyed new freedom but risks have remained. View a trailer for the film here. The screening begins at 7pm on Monday, February 20, and will be shown in-person at the New Deal Café in Greenbelt, MD and online via Zoom (registration required here). William Ford, an award-winning reporter, will lead the discussion following the film. The New Deal Café offers a full menu for the live screening.


A full-blown environmental catastrophe continues to unfold in East Palestine, Ohio, where a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying toxic materials derailed, leading to a controlled explosion, evacuations and what appears to be the release of highly hazardous chemicals into local air and water supply. Unsurprisingly, this type of safety issue is the type rail workers and unions have warned about for years, and Norfolk Southern previously “helped convince government officials to repeal brake rules — and corporate lobbyists watered down hazmat safety regs.” More coverage in The Lever and The New Republic. From on the ground (Wheeling WVA TV): “We basically nuked a town with chemicals so we could get a railroad open,” said Sil Caggiano, a hazardous materials specialist.

Big Oil’s trade group allies outspent clean energy groups by a whopping 27x, with billions in ads and lobbying to keep fossil fuels flowing. Researchers “found that trade associations historically opposed to climate policies spent $2 billion in the decade from 2008 to 2018 on political activities, such as advertising, lobbying and political contributions. Together, they outspent climate-supporting industry groups 27 to 1. The oil and gas sector was the largest, spending $1.3 billion.” From The Conversation.

And a little-known 1998 treaty giving fossil power legal — and financial — leverage against national climate policies is drawing fire and the threat of a mass exit by EU nations. The US has “observer status” to the treaty as a signatory of the 1991 European Energy Charter. From Climate Home News via Popular Resistance.

The indispensable Sarah Jaffe (Work Won’t Love You Back) walks us through the history and perils of family formation and the romance (or not) that was supposed to precede it — with the help of Engels and Gramsci. We’re a few days late for Valentine’s Day here, but Jaffe’s assertion that “we’re in another sort of [Gramsci-like] interregnum, one of romance, sexuality and gender itself” is year-round. Traditional and new approaches alike to love and family founder on the fact that “material circumstances matter — even when it comes to romance…” — a read both sobering and delightful, from In These Times via Portside.

From the Washington Post: “[DC Housing Authority] doesn’t check to ensure rents it pays on behalf of low-income voucher holders are in line with market prices, as required by local and federal regulations. As a result, the agency overpays landlords by millions of dollars every year… Paying above-market rates means fewer people are helped by the troubled housing authority, which is charged with administering more than 15,000 vouchers held by low-income households across the District, while a waiting list runs more than 30,000 people long.”

Check out the latest pieces from After the Storm — Get inspired by a queer historical ’70s romance in “Phoenix” and consider a dystopian take on motherhood in “Pride and Joy.” Also, the long-awaited first chapter of the socialist comic Industrial Heartbreak: The Return of Marx is live! All of these stories present an opportunity to imagine new futures.

The flame of thought, the magnificence of art, the wonder of discovery, and the audacity of invention all belong to revolutionary periods when humanity, tired of the chains of its restrictions, shatters them, and stops inebriated to breathe the breeze of a vaster and freer horizon.

Virgilia D’Andrea