The Washington Socialist <> January 2017
Members new and old came together for the first meeting of DC-DSA Economic Justice Committee on December 18th, and spurred on by the enormity of the challenges ahead, the rootedness of the attendees in the labor movement, and the clear consensus to pursuewas on pursuing actionable goals and deepening alliances with organizations building class consciousness.
Introductions revealed the attendees to come from varied areas of the labor movement, from elected representatives, organizers, and former-stewards, to labor lawyers and union-run trade school workers.
Carl Goldman contextualized our initiative by recounting why DSA works with labor, detailing the long tradition of socialists organizing within the labor movement. All were in agreement with Carl that DSA should continue to work with labor and within labor organizations through our collective efforts.
To this end, Coleson Breen proposed a Rights at Work training to educate members and the general public of their employment rights, and, in so doing, building routes for DSA to make greater inroads into the labor movement. Coleson suggested that the first session, which he was delighted to lead, would go over legal protections, including Family and Medical Leave Act and Fair Labor Standards Act rights. There would also be a session on how to build a union at work. Steps to set up the first sessions and to set a long-term program are to be discussed at the next committee meeting.
In working with labor, Kurt Stand proposed we commit to staying connected towith Jobs with Justice, a labor-community convener that holds a place for DSA on its steering committee. Leo Gurtnur volunteered to represent DSA at the next meeting. This connection, it was agreed, is an incredible opportunity to stay involved with a remarkable organization that has led campaigns for paid leave and fair scheduling and against wage theft.
The composition of the leadership of the Democratic Party will certainly have consequences for the labor movement, and with this in mind, Coleson asked what could be done to support Keith Ellison’s run for Democratic National Committeenvention chair. It was decided that our efforts would be best spent coordinating our chapter’s support with the national DSA office.
Kurt excited the attending members in proposing to have a campaign focused on Metro and resisting service cuts, firings and fare hikes for its transportation workers. He noted the involvement of transit unions and community groups for DSA to ally with, suggesting that DSA members attend WMATA Public Town Hall meetings sponsored by The Coalition of Metro Unions. The meetings seek to receive community input before the 2018 budget, with proposals by Metro to cut hours and lines, and to lay off workers, is finalized. While these meetings are localized to Maryland service, they could be informative for Economic Justice committee members for orientation in future struggles over Metro.
With a very positive first meeting coming to an end, members agreed that the next meeting should follow the monthly DSA membership meeting. The time and location for a committee meeting will be discussed then. At that future meeting a leadership team will be established. The committee is off to a strong start. Those in attendance hope that others will, help us stay strong, and become involved with the committee.
-- Austin Kendall and Coleson Breen
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