Cut Off: Unemployment During the Pandemic

On July 31st, an estimated 100,000 self-employed Louisiana residents, including musicians, contractors, and “gig workers’ were cutoff from federal assistance programs. New Orleans DSA spent the last month gathering potential plaintiffs and agitating for a lawsuit to stop this cutoff, similar to ones filed other states.  Over a thousand people responded to our call, and the case will be heard tomorrow, August 12th, in front of Judge Kelly. With permission, we would like to share just a few of the heartbreaking stories from some of the resilient and hard-working Louisianans whose livelihoods depend on these benefits. All stories are in their own words and have been lightly edited for clarity.

“I lost my brother to COVID it’s just so sad and upsetting that the government wants us to go back to work when nobody is hiring and if they are hiring they’re only hiring for part time jobs. This is really going to set me back because I have to figure out how to provide and live with my kids along with having fear of getting sick and dying.”

“I’m hoping PUA is extended because I have 3 children and 2 step kids that I’m taking care of. I have bills that have fallen behind and I have 3 autoimmune disorders that really affect my body- one of them being in late stages in my lungs so my doctor has told me with everything spiking again and with the delta coming into play that I need to stay home as much as possible. If the PUA unemployment benefits are going to be cut off then I’m going to be forced to go into public and risk my life to find a job to support myself and my children, and that really scares me because I’m all they have. This unemployment is my life line right now and if it’s not off I don’t know how we will survive, especially paying our bills.”

“I really think unemployment benefits should be saved because A lot of single mothers including myself and a lot of people in general have been really affected by the coronavirus. If the unemployment isn’t reinstated me and my new born child will be homeless and without any food. I applied for so many jobs since the beginning of the pandemic and not one has even contacted me. I really do desperately depend on unemployment. I know everyone has a sad story. Before the pandemic I worked and made my own money. I had to stop working due to catching the virus and I really do hope and pray to get back to work one day soon because I’d really rather work for my own money rather than depend on the government, but I have to due to Covid 19.”

“I’m soon to be 55 years old and I have several health issues myself, high blood pressure being the first and most important. I was an employee at a hospital in Louisiana when I went on leave to take care of my mother out-of-state, who is ill, and my adult son who has schizophrenia. The last day I worked was in March of 2020. That was the day my admin department was shutting down because of Covid. 

Unemployment allowed me to pay my rent and bills while out. Cutting off unemployment early will be devastating to me and worse for others. My rent is going up and with no job I can’t pay it, nor utilities, etc. I support and buy food for my son.

Louisiana takes advantage of the working people, this state capitalizes on indentured servitude. No one can live decently making under $15 an hour- have a car, insurance, have health insurance, decent housing, utilities. I can’t imagine having small children under these conditions. 

People accuse us of being lazy and not wanting to work. Someone should hold the employers accountable for firing people indiscriminately during a pandemic. I know first hand what poverty, poor education, lack of resources look like. We will be ruined if this unemployment stops early. We were smart enough to pay rent ahead and unemployment benefits will be used to pay our bills to allow for more time to find employment.”

While we await results from court, we would love your help in flooding the phone lines of Governor John Bel Edwards to let him know how this cutoff has impacted you, your family, and your neighbors. Governor Edwards needs to know that his decision to cut benefits has had far-reaching consequences on his constituents. With COVID numbers continuing to surge, and seeing the cancellation of more events, there will only be a greater need for sustained assistance for unemployed workers, and he needs to take action TODAY. Let Governor Edwards know you are watching how this lawsuit pans out, and urge him to think of unemployed workers in Louisiana.

Governor John Bel Edwards:

Constituent phone line (225) 342-0991
Or, you can e-mail him at the link here.

On July 31st, 100,000 self-employed Louisianans will be cutoff from federal pandemic assistance. The people of Louisiana deserve legal representation.

Are you impacted by the July 31st Cutoff?
Last month, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards sided with corporatist legislators and business lobbyists and against the people of Louisiana. On July 31st, an estimated 100,000 self-employed Louisiana residents, including musicians, contractors, and “gig workers’ will be cutoff from federal assistance programs. Thousands more will have their weekly benefits slashed in the midst of surging COVID hospitalization rates.

The People of Louisiana Deserve Legal Representation
Worker Power Louisiana and New Orleans Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) created this form to help identify potential plaintiffs for a lawsuit similar to those filed in Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. Our goal in collecting the names of potential plaintiffs is to encourage legal aid organizations, such as the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) to file a lawsuit before July 31st. At this time, we are not aware of any legal aid group, attorney, or legal team prepared to file suit. We hope to change that. Legal aid groups in other states have filed suits on behalf of their people. The people of Louisiana deserve the same representation.

If you or someone you know will be impacted by this cutoff, please help spread the word!

Potential Plaintiff Form:

Our Chapter’s Local Convention 2021 is Coming Up Soon!

In just a few months, we will be holding our chapter’s Annual Convention. This is the meeting where we elect new chapter leaders, make key decisions about the political direction we want to go in, and amend our bylaws. As the planning for this year’s Convention comes together, we will be posting updates on our website here! Check it out now to find out some important dates, such as when proposals will be due (May 22nd) and when we will start our election (June 12th) and when we will meet to consider all the proposals (June 26th). 

The 2021 Special Election Voter Guide is Here!

On Saturday, March 20th, we’ll be having a special election to fill the 2nd Congressional District House Seat, amongst other things! We are excited to release our 2021 Special Election Voter Guide, which covers LA-02, LA-05, the 82nd State Rep District, and Westwego municipal races! Check it out here.

New Orleans DSA stands with BAmazon Union!

The New Orleans chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) stands in solidarity with Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, as they fight for their union. When workers have unions, workers have power.

Amazon workers are some of the most essential workers in our society. Like all workers, they deserve security and respect on the job. They deserve fair pay and benefits. They deserve safety in the workplace, with strong COVID protocols that put their health first. They deserve routine breaks during their shifts, comprehensive job training, grievance procedures to hold management accountable, and an end to at-will employment. To win these conditions, Amazon workers need a seat at the table — and unions get the goods!

BAmazon Union’s fight is a fight for Amazon workers far beyond Bessemer and for working-class people across the country. During the pandemic and long before, bosses have relied on workers to make their profits and expand their power. Yet, they rarely let workers have any say over our pay and working conditions, and they rely on racist Jim Crow labor laws like “Right-to-Work” to gain an upper hand over our right to unionize. Collective bargaining is the strongest way for workers to negotiate with bosses for fair and safe conditions. They are key to building working-class power today and into the future.

New Orleans DSA sends solidarity to the Bessemer Amazon warehouse workers. You are leading the way for all of us! UNION YES!

If you would like to show solidarity with Bessemer Amazon Workers, join us in a car caravan showing support for the workers starting at the Whole Foods on Broad Street @ 4 PM on Saturday, 2/20/21! We will have materials to make signs as well as car markers. Be sure to mask up and care for the safety of those around you!


The Fight for Socialism is a Fight for Trans Liberation!

To the New Orleans DSA Membership,

New Orleans DSA is committed to fighting for trans liberation and condemns transphobia and trans discrimination in all forms. We stand in solidarity with all trans people in their struggle for human rights and freedom from harassing, violent, or otherwise harmful stigmatizations. We know that the fight for socialism is a fight fundamentally seeking justice for all. We know that our trans and gender nonconforming comrades face discrimination in seeking basic human needs, such as healthcare, housing, jobs, and personal safety.

As our trans comrades Olivia M. and Peter G. argue in the article “Without Solidarity We Cannot Survive”:

Liberal discourse around queer politics typically focuses on a highly limited set of issues which are exclusive to queer and trans people, particularly around recognition in marriage, the family, and legal documents. While these issues are important, this focus neglects the reality that many of the most oppressive aspects of queer and trans life are experienced through healthcare, housing, and the workplace–and as often through poverty and exploitation as through formal discrimination. . . . Queer and trans people in DSA have a voice in the country’s largest socialist movement that is capable of ensuring our inclusion in a powerful working-class subjectivity–not one which is created out of lowest common denominators, but instead one that unites workers in both our commonalities and our differences, and builds solidarity across identity lines.

We fight for trans liberation not simply because it is the clear moral choice, but because we fundamentally believe as socialists that no one is free until all are free. And while we support our members in personal growth as well as political education, we have a duty and responsibility to all of our members, community members, and the broader working class to be bold in our stance for trans justice.

In late October of 2020, our Chapter’s Harassment & Grievance Officers (HGOS) received notice of a grievance regarding transphobic social media posts from 2016 made by Bob M., a member of New Orleans DSA. HGOs met with the person who filed the grievance to listen and hear the best path forward, and Bob was then notified of the grievance in early December. Bob then deleted the posts (which are not reported here because they contained transphobic slurs) upon being informed of the grievance. Our chapter leadership, the Local Council, then met with Bob. To the Local Council, Bob acknowledged that he wrote the posts in question and expressed regret for their transphobic and harmful content. Regardless, the transphobic content in these tweets clearly violates our values as socialists and the standards to which we hold our members, and warranted prompt attention.

Traditionally, our Chapter’s harassment and grievance process calls for strict confidentiality to prevent further harm. However, in this instance, the circumstances were public knowledge before Local Council’s involvement; the tweets began to be shared more widely via social media; and Bob M. had recently launched a campaign for elected office in New Orleans. The Local Council agreed it was important that Bob address the grievance publicly, as part of his accountability process to the chapter and the community. Bob’s public statement on the grievance can be found here. In addition, we agreed it was important to address the situation directly ourselves to membership, as chapter leadership, to make clear our politics and values.

DSA is committed to creating a space that is welcoming and inclusive to members of all backgrounds. To ensure that everyone is able to organize without fear of harassment, abuse, or harm, DSA has a national harassment policy, known as Resolution 33. Resolution 33 was passed at the DSA National Convention in August 2017. Additionally, last month our membership ratified a Code of Conduct that applies to all members.

We welcome feedback on this statement and this process. Please reach out via to reach the whole Local Council, to reach the co-chairs, or to reach our chapter’s Harassment & Grievance Officers. To report a grievance to the chapter at any time, please fill out the grievance form here and the HGOs will reach out to you.

In Solidarity,

New Orleans Democratic Socialists of America Local Council

We stand with Orleans Parish Teachers + Demand a Safe Return!

This week, our New Orleans teachers returned to in-person school and in-person work in the midst of a pandemic that continues to rage and the emergence of the new, more contagious COVID-19 variant strain. School employees are working in hazardous conditions without hazard pay or sufficient PPE. Meanwhile, the Superintendent has the audacity to state that “schools continue to be the safest place for our children.” This is cherry picking data to serve a political purposes, and it places lives at stake. Our city’s teachers are standing up against this, and we are standing with them! Show your support for NOLA teachers!

First, contact Orleans Parish School Board members and the Superintendent’s office via email. Here is a sample letter you can use, but we encourage you to use your own words to make it more impactful! You’ll find all of their email addresses copied and pasted below. Email all of these individuals! 

Second, follow and share the NOLA 4 Safe Return Instagram account. Talking points and information about the fight for safe schools can be found there! 

Third, if you are a parent, a school employee, or a student, reach out to people in your school community. Ask your friends and coworkers to sign the NOLA 4 A Safe Return letter. Is there anyone in your community who has experienced person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in the school setting? Reach out to – the teachers want to hear from you! 


DSA New Orleans Local Council

P.S. New to DSA? Check out our chapter’s new member resources here. You can also always email with questions about how to get involved or about the work our chapter is doing. 

P.P.S. Not yet a member? The most important tool that the working class has is organization. We’re strong when we fight together. We have to build a durable, mass political organization to wield the kind of power we need to win real change in our society. If you aren’t a dues-paying member of DSA yet, join here

P.P.P.S. Here are the email addresses to reach the entire Orleans Parish School Board + the Superintendent! Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr.Superintendent , Mary Garton, Asst. Supt. of Admin, Tiffany Delcour, COO District 1: John A. Brown, Sr. – District 2: Ethan Ashley – District 3: Olin G Parker – District 4: Dr. Jancarlos (J.C.) Wagner Romero – District 5: Katherine Baudouin – District 6: Carlos Luis Zervigon – District 7: Nolan Marshall Jr. –

Stop the Folgers Tax Giveaway!

Would you like a $25 million dollar tax break? Sorry, it’s only available to corporations.

New Orleans City Council is poised to approve a multimillion dollar corporate tax cut if we don’t stand up and fight for our community. On Thursday 12/17, City Council will vote to approve what is estimated to be a $25 million property tax break for Folgers Coffee Company in New Orleans East via the infamous Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP). That’s $25M that could go to support libraries, public education, and other much needed public services in our city. How can the City afford giving away $25M in taxes when they just furloughed 4,000+ city employees and are threatening to lay off many workers next year? We’re asking members to call or email your City Councilmembers in the run up to the 12/17 vote to ensure that they vote NO on the corporate tax break. It helps to contact your representative before the vote, because you have a better chance of changing their mind. While public comments at meetings are useful, the best way to get your Councilmember’s attention is with a flood of phone calls and emails.

Every resident of New Orleans is represented by Jason Williams and Helena Moreno. In addition, you have a representative according to which part of the city you live in. Additionally, CM Nguyen may especially need to hear from us as this development is in her district and she is the sponsor of the legislation. You can see the districts here. Phone calls or emails don’t have to be long, so please take a few minutes to call or email all three. At-Large CM Jason Williams 504-658-1060

At-Large CM Helena Moreno 504-658-1070 District A CM Joe Giarrusso 504-658-1010 District B CM Jay Banks 504-658-1020 District C CM Kristin Gisleson Palmer 504-658-1030 District D CM Jared Brossett 504-658-1040 District E CM Cyndi Nguyen 504-658-1050

We’ll remind you next week to submit a public comment online, but we encourage folks to reach out as soon as they can to Councilmembers as they will be making up their mind how to vote on this tax break prior to the day of the vote.

You can read more about Folgers tax breaks here and more about the ITEP program here.

Not sure what to say? First, tell the person who answers the phone your name and address. Tell them you are calling because you want to urge your councilmember to vote no on this $25M tax giveaway to Folgers. You can explain why in your own words: we’re in an unprecedented fiscal crisis; corporations should pay their fair share of taxes; we have more than 4,000 city workers under furloughs and threat of layoffs; our infrastructure is in dire need of investment; it’s time someone took a stand for the regular residents of New Orleans who so often are left out of consideration. That’s it! It’ll take less than two minutes.

Thank you for your attention and dedication. Let’s win this.

December General Meeting This Saturday!

Hi Everyone, 

This Saturday, December 19th, we will be holding our monthly General Meeting. This is the most important meeting our chapter holds each month. It’s our opportunity each month to come together as the assembled membership of New Orleans DSA and vote on proposals that shape our work. This month we’ll be discussing our yearly chapter budget, a proposal to support a sex work decriminalization bill, and hosting a presentation on local labor history!

You can register for the call here. If you are interested in submitting an agenda item — whether it’s a proposal for consideration by the membership or an announcement — you can submit that here. If you are interested in drafting a proposal but not sure where to start, you can use this template as a guide or reach out to to get connected with someone who can guide you through the process!

We understand that building power for the working class takes grit, effort, strategy, and know how- but we can’t do it without community, relationships, and joy. On Friday, December 18th at 7pm, New Orleans DSA will be hosting a game night where folks can spend time and let loose! Join us for online games in a casual space to chat with comrades old and new. You can Register Here and we hope to see you there!


DSA New Orleans Local Council

P.S. New to DSA? Check out our chapter’s new member resources here. You can also always email with questions about how to get involved or about the work our chapter is doing. 

P.P.S. Not yet a member? The most important tool that the working class has is organization. We’re strong when we fight together. We have to build a durable, mass political organization to wield the kind of power we need to win real change in our society. If you aren’t a dues-paying member of DSA yet, join here