DSA Joins the Coalition to Stop Jail Expansion

In February of 2019, DSA signed on to join the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition, which is fighting to stop jail expansion and bring justice to our city’s broken criminal punishment system.

Since then, we’ve helped make calls, email our city council members, and show up to demand community resources be spent on social services like improving education, creating good jobs, and fixing our infrastructure — NOT jailing New Orleanians for crimes of poverty.

Yesterday, 12/5 we turned out 10 of our members to a hearing where the City Council deliberated on whether to expand OPP. And our coalition won! City Council unanimously passed a 1,250 person-cap for the city’s jails, soundly rejecting the sheriff’s proposal and moving us towards the Council’s pledge of getting the jail population below 998 by 2021. Councilmember Banks also agreed to create an ordinance that makes the new cap enforceable, and the Council overall supported the notion of ensuring that no ICE detainees are held in Orleans Parish Prison.

“This is a win for the advocates who want to reduce the size of the prison,” said District B Councilmember Jay Banks.

The fight for justice, prison abolition and an end to mass incarceration continues. Onward!

DSA Supports Marciano Art Foundation Workers!

In November, art workers at the Marciano Art Foundation museum announced their intention to form a union, so they could have power and democracy on the job, and the ability to bargain with management to improve wages and working conditions. Within days, the Marciano family fired every worker and closed their museum.

But the Marciano Art Foundation workers are not giving up without a fight. They’re running a community pressure campaign around the country demanding the Marciano family reopen their workplace, rehire the workers and recognize their union.

The Marciano family also owns the Guess brand and is known for union-busting, paying poverty wages, and violating workers rights. So on Black Friday, the MAF Union lead a coordinated action around the country to disrupt business as usual at over 50 Guess stores across the U.S.

New Orleans DSA members Michael and Jeff joined AFSCME and UTNO organizers to flyer inside the Riverwalk Mall, passing out information and having conversations with around a hundred different people. DSA will keep following the MAF Union campaign as we do our part to support workers around the country!

DSA for Bernie! Campaign Update

New Orleans DSA members & supporters at the chapter’s favorite bar, Pirogues, for a debate watch party.

We know that Bernie Sanders is the best presidential candidate for workers and our families, so New Orleans DSA is running an ambitious campaign for Bernie 2020! We will be knocking thousands of doors, making hundreds of calls and texts, registering voters, hosting monthly Bernie educational and social events, and canvassing & tabling across the city. There’s plenty of work to do and we’re going to need all hands on deck, so come join us! Our next Bernie campaign meeting is Saturday, Dec. 7th, 2 – 3:30 PM in the common space at Fairgrinds Coffee House (3133 Ponce de Leon).

(more…)

2019 Runoff Voting Guide Released

Our Voting Guide for this year’s November 16th Runoff Election has arrived! It’s live and online to help educate y’all about candidates and issues. Huge shoutout to Municipal Action Committee for their extremely hard work on this!

New Orleans DSA members stand with striking Chicago educators!

In October, New Orleans DSA sent members up to Chicago to join the 35,000 teachers and education workers who are on strike for their students. They are members of Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and SEIU Local 73, and their demands include a nurse and social worker in every school, reduced class sizes, and fair pay for support staff.

Blanca Estevez, of Northwest Arkansas DSA and the DSA National Political Committee, helps bag up lunches for Chicago students
(more…)

The Hard Rock Collapse Is a Predictable, Awful Crime of Capitalism

New Orleans DSA stands in solidarity with all workers in the aftermath of the catastrophic collapse on the corner of Canal and Rampart streets, on the site of a former Civil Rights Movement landmark which was planned to be a Hard Rock Hotel. 

We condemn the greed, neglect, and corruption fostered by capitalists who prioritize profits over human life — not just the developers making a hotel for tourists instead of actually affordable housing for workers, not just the notoriously anti-union contractors who endanger and threaten workers, not just the politicians and bureaucrats who accept donations, bribes, and the goodwill of their most powerful friends, not just our local government who thinks that an Apple Store and Cracker Barrel on Canal Street are the upper echelon of what we can achieve — all of these and more. Capitalism encourages the individualist, profit-driven culture that would call this disaster a senseless tragedy but not a crime.

Of more than 110 workers onsite at the time of the disaster, at least three have died, with dozens of workers injured. This tragedy isn’t over, and the bosses still have the upper hand. Here’s how it happened: 

  • Bosses neglected worker safety complaints. 
  • Bosses misclassified workers. This is wage theft. By calling workers “independent contractors,” bosses avoid paying proper overtime, benefits and taxes.  But it’s even worse than that — misclassified workers are also robbed of workers compensation for injuries on the job!
  • Bosses put profits over workers. Unionized electricians protested at the site last month because contractors were flouting the rules, employing “unlicensed and unqualified electricians, against city ordinances.” 
  • Government didn’t protect us. The original developer received special zoning and density exceptions for the project at the same time that he was defrauding the Road Home Program. When he was sentenced to a federal prison, his family got to keep the property and continue the project. By the way, New Orleans’ Department of Safety and Permits is under federal investigation for building inspectors accepting bribes from 2011 to 2019 from “individuals seeking favorable inspection reports.” 
  • Workers pay the price, always. In addition to the construction workers directly impacted by this disaster — physically, emotionally, and financially — the effects are felt throughout the city’s working class. Businesses near the site have been evacuated, putting people out of work indefinitely. Street closures have affected worker commutes by car and transit.  

What’s next?  

  • Demand the developer and contractor pay all medical costs and back pay to misclassified workers!
  • Demand a responsible bidder ordinance requiring all government contracts AND contracts receiving any subsidies or tax breaks to use unionized labor, including subcontractors.
  • Pay attention. What happens to the property? What happens to the workers? Who do you think should have the power in this situation?
  • Demand a workers compensation fund for workers at nearby businesses that are currently closed around the site of the collapse.

Black Land Loss: Addressing Equity in Louisiana Agriculture

By Alli D.

Decades of racist practices at the USDA have robbed black Louisianans of their farmland, and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry could help undo this injustice. Ag Commissioner candidate Marguerite Green wants to make sure that they do. 

Agriculture is big business in Louisiana. The state’s forests and fields are one of our main industries, supporting hundreds of communities and thousands of families. 

While farming can be a lucrative business, it has been at the expense of black farmers, whose land has been stolen from them through corrupt institutional practices, discrimination, intimidation, and collusion. As Vann Newkirk documented recently for The Atlantic, Wall Street firms like TIAA are buying up farmland in the Mississippi Delta, pushing black farmers off their families’ lands. In total, black farmers in the US have lost 12 million acres in the last century. This crisis of land loss is acute in Louisiana. 

(more…)

Movies in the Park!

DSA member Blake and his son

By Nadia J.

Sunset in the Irish Channel found over 150 neighbors, families and children in Burke Park on Friday evening for the first DSA hosted Movie in the Park presented by the New Orleans Recreation Department. The movie, WALL-E, began promptly after dark, following camaraderie and a festive gathering of neighbors and visitors alike. 

(more…)

DSA joins Mississippi UAW Workers on Strike!

All across the US, nearly 50,000 workers at General Motors plants represented by United Auto Workers union (UAW) are out on strike to demand dignity and justice on the job. DSA members from Texas to Pennsylvania have joined their picket lines to show support for the workers in their battle against the GM bosses.

This week, New Orleans DSA are sending members out on Wednesday and Friday to walk the picket line with striking workers in Brandon, MS. When asked what our members could bring to show our support, one UAW union member said, “Bring your fighting spirit … I want us to be seen. There is strength in numbers.” We are proud to stand with workers from New Orleans to Mississippi!

Read more about the UAW strike and the workers’ demands here.

Voting for Bernie? Check Your Registration

By Noah T.

Registering as a Democrat

On April 4, Louisiana will hold a primary election to decide which Democratic candidate to support in a run for president. This will be a closed primary, so it will only be open to registered Democrats. Many members of the Democratic Socialists of America are not registered Democrats: they may have been drawn to the DSA because they have no faith in existing political parties, or because they don’t see any political party that is a good representation of their personal ideology. The Democratic Socialists of America are a political group, but not a party. When our members register to vote, we don’t have a DSA box to check, we have to make our own choice about party affiliation. In this primary for the Democratic nominee for president, we are encouraging our members to register as democrats to take part in this contest. It’s a simple process for voters to change party affiliation to Democrat to cast this vote, and then change to something else afterward if they wish.

(more…)