The working group is participating in a multi-branch Land Use Subcommittee. Land use policy will be a central issue for DSA in the upcoming City Council races. One of the powers of City Council that the DSA seeks leverage over is zoning regulation. Pressure on City Council helped defeat the Industry City redevelopment plan, which threatened to bring gentrification to Sunset Park, and the fight against upcoming Sunnyside Yards, Innovation Queens, and Flushing Waterfront projects will be held in the same legislative body.
The working group is also working with the Queens Eviction Defense Network, a coalition of tenants organizations and mutual aid networks, to resist the coming wave of evictions caused by the pandemic. Gov Cuomo ostensibly extended the Tenant Safe Harbor Act till the end of 2020, but as with many of his legislative efforts, there are plenty of devils in the details. Small businesses are not protected, and will begin to close on October 20th. It’s also unclear whether housing courts will reopen sooner and simply set January 1st as the deadline for the evictions they approve.
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Over the past month, the Brooklyn Housing working group has been working closely with the Housing Justice for All coalition (HJ4A), agitating to cancel rent and extend the eviction moratorium. They’ve hosted lunch time phone banks, targeting voters in the districts of State Senators who have yet to sign on to DSA backed legislation. They also joined HJ4A and the Right to Counsel Coalition in organizing the March Against Evictions on October 1st.
They’ve also been involved in fielding concerns about land use policy in conjunction with the Lower Manhattan Housing Group.
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Debt and Finance
Debt and Finance is mounting an ambitious campaign to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations, fix inequities in the State tax code that produce inequality, and raise revenue to fund social programs. The legislative package will be presented in the State legislature during budget negotiations that will run from January through March. D&F is working as a part of the Tax the Rich coalition, which includes Strong Economy for All, New York Communities for Change, Empire State Indivisible, and others. D&F is also working closely with DSA-backed candidates who won their primaries in races for the State legislature on the proposed legislation. These conversations will help DSA electeds hit the ground running in January and build a coalition with other progressive legislators for these bills.
The working group is also working on a campaign to create public banks in New York. Much of our agenda as a socialist organization depends not only on tax revenue but also on credit. For example, some borrowing will be crucial to financing a Green New Deal and a just recovery from the recession caused by COVID-19. A public banking system, building upon the model that has existed in North Dakota since 1919 or that was legalized in California in 2019, would enable us to use our democracy to make greater investments in our communities.
D&F is also working with the Housing Justice working group and the Debt Collective to organize debtors and prepare tenants to negotiate the rent arrears that will be coming due when the eviction moratorium ends in January. D&F is holding weekly seminars to demystify issues at the center of its campaigns and the technical language that obscures the role of finance in our lives.
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During the summer, the Racial Justice Working Group has organized several marches for the Defund NYP campaign and Breonna Taylor in the wake of court ruling exonerating the police who murdered her in her own home. Though the media has moved on from the protests, DSA continued pressuring the City, especially in advance of the coming City Council races, during which we hope to make defunding the NYPD a central issue.
Tabling events around Defund NYP continued in North Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, South Brooklyn, and Central Brooklyn. These events help check in with residents to see where they’re at with these issues and get them involved with the next steps of the campaign.
Racial Justice is also hosting political education events, including a biweekly reading series.
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Immigrant Justice has elected a new organizing committee, effective October 13th.
They are also participating in the Excluded Workers Fund, a campaign to pass legislation taxing New York billionaires in order to support workers excluded from our State’s unemployment system. 54% of New York’s essential workers are immigrants who are currently getting $0 in unemployment or stimulus. The legislation will also support the recently incarcerated and small businesses with inadequate documentation for stimulus. You can learn more about the campaign here.
The working group continues to hold #Freethemall phone zaps, which aim to release those currently trapped in our overcrowded, COVID-ridden prisons.
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The Healthcare Working Group continues to agitate for a single payer healthcare system in New York through the New York Health Act. The campaign is putting pressure on key legislators, public outreach in the districts of DSA backed elected officials, and coordination with healthcare activists and DSA chapters across the state.
If you’d like to get involved, there are weekly tabling event, a weekly reading group on Healthcare and Human Rights, and biweekly phone banks for the Healthcare Emergency Guarantee Act. To learn more and to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org!
The Labor branch recently joined the workers at the Brooklyn Friends School in a successful strike, after the school administration in turn recognized their union, unrecognized their union, and finally capitulated to pressure from workers, parents, Quaker religious institutions, the UAW, and DSA. This strike was especially important after Trump’s NLRB rescinded its own jurisdiction over religious schools. Despite the union’s legal precarity, solidarity won the day.
Other recent DSA backed labor actions include the ratification of the healthcare workers’ contract at Mt. Sanai and walkouts, rallies, and pickets held in support of teachers and school staff. Labor has also been asking its members to march with Racial Justice as DSA continues it’s Defund NYPD campaign.
Ecosocialism is gearing up for the next phase of the Public Power campaign, which seeks free New York’s energy grid from Con Edison’s control. Not only would state control of the grid lower rates, and invest more revenue into repairing infrastructure, it would also help New York move toward a carbon neutral energy system.
Ecosocialism is currently involved in census tabling and canvasing efforts to gauge the concerns New Yorkers already have around these issues. The working group is also holding meetings to garner media and writing related skills, which enable organizers to communicate with constituents and press contacts we want to involve in the campaign.
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