New Orleans DSA stands in solidarity with the uprisings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Columbus, Louisville, Los Angeles, and beyond. We stand in solidarity with people everywhere who are demanding freedom from racist violence at the hands of the police. The police are one of the lethal tools of white supremacy, used to protect capital and property rights and to crush the powerful movements of working people.
In Louisiana, we can look back to the Thibodaux Massacre in 1887, where militias murdered dozens of black Louisiana sugarcane sharecroppers, or to the 1970 storming of the Black Panther Party’s headquarters in the Desire Housing Projects, or we can look to the present, where PeopleReady, a temp agency that contracts labor for municipal trash-collecting work, fires striking hoppers and forces people who are imprisoned to replace them for pennies on the dollar.
This is how the carceral state works; this is what policing is. This is not unique to Minneapolis or to “a few bad apples.” The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis came just days before the police murder of Modesto Reyes here in Jefferson Parish and on the heels of Breonna Taylor’s murder in Louisville.
We uphold the right of communities to protect themselves against a murderous state, and we encourage all people to join the ongoing movement to end state violence and white supremacy.
As the events this week in Minneapolis have shown, we will only win this fight when we—the multiracial working class—come together to leverage our collective power and force the end of a system that relies on white supremacist violence to maintain the status quo. This system will not end because of a moral shift in the hearts of the ruling class or in individual white people’s conscience. It will only end when we all commit to stepping up now, joining the fight for the long-term, and building our power together.
This year, New Orleans will elect a district attorney and several criminal court judges—we demand that they hold officers accountable for misconduct and brutality. The city will pass a budget this fall in the midst of a pandemic and record unemployment. We demand the city divert our tax dollars away from NOPD and surveillance contractors to community health and social services. Orleans Parish Prison, which has killed about 50 people since 2006, is at its lowest population since the 1980s. We support the demands of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and call for a mass release of incarcerated people.
We are angry, and we are mourning, and we are ready to fight.
We are in the midst of an unprecedented public health and economic crisis. It is no secret that workers, especially in the service industry, will be disproportionately impacted, and that collective action is the greatest tool we have at our disposal to get through this. To that end, we’ve compiled a variety of resources to help workers in New Orleans and Louisiana at large, which can be viewed here.
Additionally, we’re working on setting up unemployment workshops, fighting for a fair fund for hospitality workers, and contributing to mutual aid projects throughout the city.
Each year our local chapter holds a convention for the purpose of electing new officers to the Local Council and debating proposed amendments to our chapter bylaws and political resolutions that can shape the direction of our chapter. Due to the public health crisis of COVID-19 and social distancing measures, our chapter must find ways to do both important elements of the Convention in virtual spaces.
The Local Council has created our first ever Election Committee to undertake the work of planning an election that is fair, transparent, and accessible despite the fact that we cannot meeting together in a physical space. The Election Committee is currently meeting weekly on Tuesdays at 5pm, and anyone who is interested in contributing is welcome to join. You can join the #election-committee-2020 channel on Slack to participate or register for the Zoom call here.
While we are still researching voting platforms as well as how to collect votes from members with little or no internet access, the Election Committee is pleased to announce that the nomination period is now open!
New Orleans DSA will have elections at the end of June. These positions are a chance for members to take a more direct role in guiding our chapter. It’s an opportunity for our chapter to develop new leaders and get fresh perspectives on our work. It’s also a chance for members to gain experience as leaders in a democratic organization of more than 250 people.
Candidates must be nominated by another member to run and must be a member in good standing, which means that you are currently paying dues to DSA National. No one may nominate themselves. To nominate a member, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Officer Nomination or let a current chapter officer know your nomination(s). There’s no limit on how many people you can nominate. The nomination period is for the next two weeks, ending May 30th. The Election Committee will reach out to each nominee to confirm their acceptance and give them information on what will be expected of them as a candidate.
Read this document for a full description of the role of each officer (hat tip to Noah T. for writing this up!).
Special Meeting Announcement
Our chapter will be holding a Special Meeting on Saturday, May 30th (instead of our Weekly Update call) to vote on proposed amendments to the bylaws. According to our bylaws, amendments can only be debated and voted on during Special Meetings. We need to have a quorum of 10% of our membership in attendance, so please mark this on your calendar!
This is not a substitute for the Convention. Another special meeting will take place in conjunction with the election this summer, and we will be providing information on how to write, submit, and debate any proposed resolutions or amendments well ahead of time. At this month’s meeting, we will be debating just a handful of amendments to the bylaws to potentially add new positions to the Local Council and a clause that allows our chapter to reformat or reschedule the Convention under extreme circumstances (like the one we are in now). The full text of these amendments will be emailed and posted to the website as soon as possible so that members can review them.
We will also be giving a general overview of the election process and schedule as well as information on Robert’s Rules of Order, which we use for debate.
Discourse Digest is a new monthly web series published by the New Orleans DSA Political Education Committee. Each entry of Discourse Digest highlights a strategic or programmatic question facing DSA and the broader left, and charts arguments and counterarguments comprising the body of discourse.
Q: How should DSA orient itself to the US presidential election in 2020? What role, if any, should DSA play in a possible Bernie Sanders campaign?
Part I: Bernie versus the Dem primary field of candidates
Discourse Digest is a new monthly web series published by the New Orleans DSA Political Education Committee. Each entry of Discourse Digest highlights a strategic or programmatic question facing DSA and the broader left, and charts arguments and counterarguments.
New Orleans Sanitation workers are fighting for their rights! These workers keep our city clean and safe, and are putting their lives out on the line everyday to keep New Orleans running. They are doing a WORK STOPPAGE to demand hazard pay and PPE.
Please call METROWIDE SERVICES today to tell them you are a concerned New Orleanian and that Metrowide needs to do right by these workers. 🌹
“Hello, my name is [X] I am calling to urge Metrowide Services to pay their workers what they deserve and give them PPE. The hoppers are demanding $135 standard day rate plus $150 hazard pay per day until the pandemic is over. They also demand to be given proper protective equipment every day.”
If you live in New Orleans, say you are a New Orleans resident. If you live outside of New Orleans, say what city you are calling in from and that “people all over the country are watching Metrowide.” Let’s show our FRONTLINE workers we have their back! 🌹
We are calling on the New Orleans City Council to support the Medicare for All Act of 2019 or Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act to meet the immediate need for full health care coverage with no out-of-pocket expenses. Public health is a social good, like clean air or fresh water. In this time of crisis it is clear that we are only as safe and healthy as our neighbors, coworkers, teachers, bus drivers, grocery workers, servers, and bartenders. We need federal legislation that will keep our neighbors safe and protect them from surprise medical bills and debt.
Please call your council member and urge them to support the Medicare for All Act of 2019 or Healthcare Emergency Guarantee Act!
Call your council member today! At-Large Councilmember Helena Moreno: (504) 658-1060 At-Large Councilmember Jason Williams: (504) 658-1070 District A Councilmember Joe Giarrusso: (504) 658-1010 District B Councilmember Jay Banks: (504) 658-1020 District C Councilmember Kristin Palmer: (504) 658-1030 District D Councilmember Jared Brossett: (504) 658-1040 District E Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen: (504) 658-1050
Script: “Hello, my name is [NAME] and I live in District [X] in New Orleans. I’m calling to urge Councilmember [X] to support Resolution No. R-20-125 and endorse federal legislation to create universal healthcare.
Public health is a social good, like clean air or fresh water. COVID-19 has shown us that we are only as safe and healthy as our neighbors and community members. We need legislation that will keep our neighbors safe and protect them from surprise medical bills and debt.We need Healthcare-for-All! Thank you for your time.”
We’re part of a coalition fighting for hospitality workers. New Orleans’ Exhibition Hall Authority has nearly $200 million in cash reserves and, with over 90,000 hospitality and tourism workers in New Orleans currently out of work, we are demanding $100 million go to direct relief for workers. The GNO Fair Hospitality Fund is escalating now and we need everyone’s help!
Sign the petition. Demand the Exhibition Hall Authority give direct relief to workers! You can sign here
Share the petition. Is someone in your family, a friend, or a neighbor an out of work hospitality worker? Ask them to sign and share the petition!
Film a #FairFundNow selfie. Check out some of the videos we’ve already uploaded to our facebook, and share widely. Instructions for how to do your own are here. If you’re not an out of work hospitality worker, pass this along your networks.
Join our online rally! On 4/20 from 5 pm – 7 pm. You can find the Facebook event here with links to zoom registration.
We are currently experiencing the first wave of disruption that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is bringing to the United States, the South, and our beloved city of New Orleans. As this public health and socioeconomic crisis unfolds, the cracks in our institutions and systems will become apparent and may even fully fracture. When systems fail, it is people who pick up the pieces and reform them. As socialists and working people, we know our power rests in our ability to act collectively. We embrace solidarity over self-interest because it is necessary for survival.
Our capitalist economic system amplifies all the effects of the pandemic. Millions of workers earning low wages and facing ever-increasing rents and childcare costs now have difficult decisions to make. Over the past forty years, politicians on both sides of the aisle have cut funding to public programs and let investors and corporations dictate their policy. State and municipal governments have given private, profit-seeking companies control over vital services, and we are now seeing the disastrous results of that approach.
In the absence of a paid sick leave program, millions of working people face the stressful choice of whether to go to work sick or stay home as advised and risk losing pay or their jobs altogether.
In the absence of a paid family leave program, working parents face enormous difficulty in obtaining childcare when schools close.
In the absence of strong unions, businesses fire employees to offset lost revenue and treat workers as disposable.
In the absence of a national healthcare system, people go into medical debt when they pursue vital treatment or suffer the consequences of not going to the doctor. Healthcare workers face enormous strains without proper support.
There are many solutions for the issues listed above, and we are at a critical turning point for demanding universal programs at the federal level, not compromised half-measures like the House paid sick leave bill written late last week that only covers 20% of workers by exempting all corporations with more than 500 employees.
This month we have already seen how quickly the government can react and unleash spending that it typically says is impossible, most notably with the $1.5 trillion the Federal Reserve is loaning to banks to stabilize financial markets. But we have also seen many states and municipalities enact progressive contingency plans with low barriers to access, acknowledging that when we share our skills and resources, we exponentially increase our impact and reach and prevent further harm.
While New Orleans DSA strongly believes in and supports universal social programs, right now our attention is focused on our city and region.
We’ve watched our city’s infrastructure deteriorate under the strain of decades of corruption and inaction. Recently, in the wake of events like massive drainage system failures and the Hard Rock Hotel collapse, our leaders have asked us to normalize dysfunction and trust a process that doesn’t prioritize our residents’ needs.
We have over 80,000 service industry workers and 56,000 people over the age of 65 in the city, and almost 20% of New Orleanians live in poverty. Four in ten adults in the Greater New Orleans area live with chronic medical conditions associated with significantly increased mortality. Our city faces dire prospects in the event of a widespread COVID-19 outbreak, and the number of new infections is rising higher than in other metro areas in the country. Unless we make demands and work together to pressure the powerful, thousands of us will be broke and broken in the aftermath.
It is time to prioritize the needs of all workers, especially and the most vulnerable among us, as we fight for concrete change and true public health in our city and region– not just physical, but social and economical health.
New Orleans DSA feels that organizing workers to take power into their own hands through all avenues is the only way to improve the material and social conditions of all people. We have already seen multiple mutual aid networks develop to help mitigate the secondary effects of this crisis in this city, and we believe those networks should also take advantage of this moment to focus pressure on those in power. While we are still developing more demands in coordination with other organizations, right now we insist that:
Entergy New Orleans must suspend shut-offs due to late payment in all instances, not just confirmed COVID-19 cases. The local energy monopoly announced that it will suspend shut-offs for customers who are affected by COVID-19 through the next four weeks, but hasn’t explained who qualifies. Entergy should suspend shut-offs indefinitely for all customers since it is clear that disruption will affect everyone, not just the infected. We call on Governor John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Public Service Commission to require all energy suppliers in the state to do the same. Entergy, the parent company for several utilities in the South, has revenues of $11 billion a year.
New Orleans & Company must contribute financial relief from their substantial cash reserves for service industry and hospitality workers, as well as artists, musicians, performers, tour guides, and other culture workers. New Orleans & Company is a private non-profit that receives sales tax revenue generated by hospitality workers to fund expensive marketing campaigns that promote tourism. Our city’s over-reliance on tourism has made this entity very powerful while diverting taxes that could be used for public education, healthcare, and infrastructure.
This relief should be available to all service industry workers, undocumented and documented, and apply to lost wages that are not always accounted for by business owners, including tips and under-the-table payment. City Council has already made a formal request that New Orleans and Co. offer assistance to employees and develop fair rehiring practices for laid off workers, but as we saw from last year’s negotiation for infrastructure funds, constant pressure is necessary to spur action.
The City of New Orleans must take the health and safety of our vulnerable residents into consideration to prevent the spread of the virus. We support the Orleans Public Defenders in calling for the release of all people currently imprisoned for nonviolent offenses and that NOPD issue summons for new nonviolent suspects instead of placing them in Orleans Parish Prison.We also believe the sentences of elderly prisoners should be evaluated to assess them for early release on probation or parole. Since visitors are now banned from entering OPP, prisoners must be provided access to social interaction with their friends and family through phone. Sheriff Gusman must call for Securus, the jail’s communications and banking contractor, to waive all fees and surcharges for the duration of the pandemic. The city must build or find emergency shelters for the unhoused, including food and sanitation facilities necessary to prevent further spread of the virus.
New Orleans DSA is currently contacting other allied organizations to plan concrete actions. We are holding a joint conference call on Tuesday, March 17th at 6:30 p.m. Email email@example.com if you are interested in how to participate in the call.
You can sign up for our mailing list here for updates as we plan our ongoing response campaigns.
If you believe that democratic socialism and worker power is essential to the long-term health and justice in our country and the world, you can join the Democratic Socialists of America here.
While this statement is limited in its focus to our city, our chapter stands in solidarity with all Louisianans and the entire Gulf Coast, and we will look for ways to offer assistance to them as well.
it’s 2020 and we’re ramping up our local campaign for Bernie Sanders. We had thirty people attend our Bernie planning meeting this past Saturday, and on Sunday the 5th, fifteen folks turned out to knock doors in the upper 9th Ward!
Our next Bernie Meeting is set for Sunday, Feb. 9th, 3 to 4:30PM at 2533 Columbus St.
Bernie is polling neck and neck with Biden. He can win, but it’s up to grassroots organizers to make it happen. That’s why New Orleans DSA is running an ambitious campaign and we’ve set goals to:
– Knock thousands of doors – Register hundreds of voters – Hold Bernie 2020 events every week until the primary
Bernie doesn’t have billionaire funders or corporate media on his side, but he has an army of volunteers like us who are organizing all across the U.S. to win Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, democracy in the workplace, racial justice, and a stop to endless wars.
Keep reading to see all of the events we have planned for this month! If you want to get involved but don’t know where to start, fill out this form and an organizer will be get in touch with you.