CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE
The Washington Socialist <> March 2017
By Jacquelyn Smith
The Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee has had a busy month, continuing to establish our network of like-minded organizations and planning for campaign participation.
On Sunday, Feb. 26, over thirty committee members gathered at Gordon Biersch restaurant to hear from David Mott, of SEIU and the People’s Climate March; Jeremiah Lowery, of the Sierra Club and Chesapeake Climate Action Network; and our very own David Schwartzman, former Howard University professor and active member of the DC Statehood Green Party. The committee enthusiastically supports the April 29 People’s Climate March and hopes that Metro DC DSA can become an official partner. Chesapeake Climate Action Network has proposed a DC carbon tax, and will be releasing a study on bill specifics at the end of March. While the committee supports efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the District and beyond, we look forward to reading the results of the study and ensuring that low-income families are not disproportionately affected.
Our members’ energy and enthusiasm continues to inspire us as we build the framework of our young committee. Environmental justice is a key, but often overlooked, component of a sustainable socialist vision. We look forward to building a stronger relationship between socialists and environmentalists, as well as between environmental justice and other social justice issues here in DC.
Jacquelyn Smith is on the Steering Committee of Metro DC DSA’s Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee
ECONOMIC JUSTICE COMMITTEE
The Washington Socialist <> March 2017
By Austin Kendall
The Left was quick to mark Trump’s rise as a new phase of the neoliberal period, but what Left writers could not anticipate was the shift from crowd to party. It is, hopefully, the beginning of a shift from a voting bloc in electoral politics or horizontal regiment of occupiers, to organizing groups in revolutionary politics. The organization of capitalist social relations require an organized Left that can democratically debate its position in order to march through the contradictions of capitalist society. The necessity of an organized Left, in the embodiment of Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America, and its Economic Justice Committee, was made clear by the week beginning February 12th.
An incredible turnout for February’s General Meeting led to the Economic Justice Committee’s nearly doubling its membership. After the meeting, I spoke with new MDCDSA members about their interests, how they could get involved in EJC’s campaigns and how they could create their own EJC campaigns. Sam Nelson spoke with MDCDSA members new and old about joining a solidarity group for AT&T Mobility workers, whose contract expired and were and still are likely to have to strike. Leo Gertner spoke with those interested in being involved in the Center for Popular Democracy’s Fed Up Campaign (more below).
Members new and old attended organizing events throughout the week, including a crucial community rally for nurses at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland, the very next day. Nurses at Holy Cross are deeply troubled by understaffing at the hospital, which creates unsafe conditions for patients and nurses alike. The hospital has hired anti-union consultants to fight off the nurses’ attempt to join National Nurses United, a move decried by the community rallying behind the nurses, and by MDCDSA members.
On Tuesday, Leo Gertner organized the Economic Justice Committee’s involvement with Center for Popular Democracy’s event “Crash the Senate not the Economy.” As part of their long-standing effort to prevent the implementation of policies by the Federal Reserve that hurt unemployed, underemployed, and underpaid workers, the Fed Up campaign members protested Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s testimony at the Senate in favor of the Financial Choice Act, which would gut Dodd-Frank and further deregulate the financial industry.
With Andrew Puzder’s confirmation hearing with the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee scheduled for Thursday, EJC members planned on canvassing Wednesday evening at Rosslyn Metro Station to encourage Senator Tim Kaine’s constituents to call him and tell him not to vote Puzder out of committee. EJC collaborated with the Socialist Feminist Committee in writing a letter to the editor referencing a Washington Post article that suggested that Republican support for Puzder was waning due to the circulation of a videotaped Oprah interview with Puzder’s former wife where she said he often beat her and threatened her with retaliation if she sought help. The letter from EJC and SFC hoped that the hesitation was genuine, noting that Puzder’s violent behavior was known before he was nominated by Trump. Still it was a surprise that Puzder withdrew his nomination on Wednesday afternoon, leading to a quick retooling of canvassing to be a celebration of the victory of working people, and women, in Puzder’s defeat. Good Jobs Nation’s anti-Puzder event scheduled to protest the would-be Puzder hearings turned into a victory rally, attended by worker and labor groups as well as MDCDSA members.
Yet the central action of Thursday was the Day Without Immigrants strike, and the rally and march from Mt. Pleasant to the White House organized by Many Languages One Voice, attended by MDCDSA members. The call for persons born outside of the United States to withhold their labor, and their purchasing power, captured the attention of the District and surrounding counties, and cities nationwide. While the origin of the strike call is still unclear, the intent was clear – to demonstrate the economic importance of immigrants in the social organization of production and reproduction in US society in order to challenge the anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy of the Trump regime.
The chaos that the Trump administration has inaugurated requires the presence of an organized Left not just to appropriately respond to the policies of the administration, but also to not inappropriately respond to other social groups’ responses to those policies. The Trump administration is a regime of intermediate capital – at the command of international monopoly capital but not of it – but that does not mean in the social terrain we navigate it will always be evident which action we ought to take. We require large socialist organizations, with strong roots in the community, that can democratically decide on the way forward based on the testimony of affected communities in order to maneuver in the Time of Trump. After the Day Without Immigrants strike, the Economic Justice Committee, in coordination with the Anti-Racism, Anti-Bigotry Committee, decided to improve our connections with immigrant worker and immigrant community organizations, in order to ensure MDCDSA does not respond inappropriately to the concerns of immigrant communities.
The only sensible way forward through the Time of Trump is by working in a mass, socialist, democratic organization. If you are not a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, become one. If you are not a member of the Economic Justice Committee, become one.
The Washington Socialist <> March 2017
By Woody Woodruff
The Metro DC DSA Communications Committee continued to build out its group of tasks and simultaneously began to develop more functional and distributed leadership for the long haul.
The major tasks under way include:
Refining the newsletter, The Washington Socialist, in content mission, participation and presence on the local’s website.
Developing permanent content both text and video for the website and social media that draws from the skills and knowledge of all the local’s committees. Establishing permanent liaison relationships with all DCDSA committees to maximize impact of each one’s skills, knowledge and capacity for action.
Developing outreach to allied groups and the general public through making DCDSA public statements on issues easily created, well presented and approved in timely matter, and by strategically placing op-eds and letters in more conventional media (as well as identifying unconventional media venues managed by our allies).
Coordinating social media, web presence and substantive communication efforts (text and video) for an increasing role and impact of DCDSA in public discourse, political and cultural.
Facilitating Metro DC DSA’s internal communication through email groups and chat functions like DSAChat (RocketChat).
Working with other committees to better understand our community: developing lists and identifying individual and group capacities; identifying allied groups and establishing liaison relationships.
The Communications Committee, working with Events and Logistics member expertise and experience, is distributing leadership and meeting management functions throughout the expanding group.
This report was largely based on Evan Ottenfeld’s excellent and complete notes on the committee meeting of Feb. 26.
About The Washington Socialist
.The Washington Socialist is Metro DC DSA's monthly e-newsletter. Focusing on our local's events, socialist analyses of current events and book reviews, among other topics, The Washington Socialist is a great way to stay on top of the progressive goings-on in DC, Maryland and northern Virginia. We also encourage our readers to submit their own articles! Contact Editor Woody Woodruff for more info at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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