General Membership Meeting: Dec. 10, 2017

East Bay DSA General Membership Meeting, December 10, 2017

The following meeting minutes are in draft status and are pending approval from the Local Council.

General Membership Meeting, December 10, 2017

These minutes document the December 10, 2017 general membership meeting of East Bay DSA. The meeting began at 1 p.m. and was chaired jointly by co-chair Molly A. and vice chair Frances R. The secretary was present and recording the meeting.

Introduction

The meeting began with a quorum check, and it was determined that quorum was reached for the meeting, allowing for voting decisions to be made by the membership. The vice chair gave introductory statements and facilitated a brief comrade conversation regarding visions for DSA.

Committee updates followed and included reports from the internal organizing committee, external organizing committee, the secretary and the treasurer.  

The vice-chair gave a brief explanation of Robert's rules and discussed the seriousness of member voting to determining the direction of the organization.

Medicare for All Campaign

Jeremy Gong motivated the following proposal regarding East Bay DSA's Medicare for All campaign.

Passed by majority vote of the membership December 10, 2017

Submitted by Ari Marcantonio and Jeremy Gong

Whereas, health care in the United States remains disgraceful with the highest costs in the world and with nearly 50 million Americans having no health insurance coverage at all. The cost of health insurance continues to rise while workers’ wages and benefits continue to stagnate and fall. These high costs and meager coverage do not contribute to higher health outcomes with the United States ranking lowest in the world when compared to similar countries. Meanwhile, the current healthcare system sustains an obscene health insurance oligarchy on the backs of working Americans who continue to pay an ever higher share of their health insurance.

Whereas, the establishment of a Medicare for All system amounts to the socialization of the health insurance function -- this is a primary demand in the pursuit of healthcare as a social right. In the United States will abolish a substantial section of capital while liberating millions of workers who are currently dependant on their employers for health insurance. These workers will not only have greater security in access to care for themselves and their families, but greater flexibility to fight capital in their workplace by going out on strike, challenging their bosses, and organizing with their co-workers. Therefore, Medicare for All, or a single payer healthcare system, is a non-reformist reform.

Whereas, abolishing the health insurance industry — a bloated and parasitic sector of our nation's economy accounting for approximately 1/5th of our GDP — will require an unprecedented level of mobilization and organization, involving millions of people across the country.

Whereas, Medicare for All is a popular working class demand that will disproportionately benefit working class women, low-income workers, unemployed and underemployed people, immigrants and disabled people, people of color, and LGBTQ people.  

Whereas over 1,000 national regional and local unions, state labor federations and central labor councils have endorsed Medicare for All and organizations like the National Nurses United, the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer and Physicians for a National Health Program have made single-payer a priority in their work such that the campaign represents a major opportunity to build relationships with and forge solidarity with the leading edge of the labor movement.

Whereas the fight for single payer healthcare will help build a mass, organized working class constituency that will have the interest and the capacities to fight for all kinds of other working class demands. We are committed to the politics of decommodification, anti-austerity, redistribution, and class struggle and endeavor to promote these politics in all our campaigns.

While as socialists we recognize a multitude of issues that must be addressed on moral grounds, we are committed to strategically prioritizing our resources into campaigns that will build the power of our organization, our movement and the working class at large to win ever greater battles on our path to a socialist future. For many of the above mentioned reasons, the fight for Medicare for All is such a campaign.

Whereas DSA, at its August 2017 convention, prioritized Medicare for All as our first national priority and by participating actively in a national campaign, DSA chapters across the country can build connections with one another, grow their local capacities and cohere the mass constituency needed to win Medicare for All into a well organized political bloc and national force. Meanwhile, the National DSA Medicare for All Campaign Committee is developing resources and a political program to support DSA chapters who want to participate in this campaign. (You can read the full DSA Convention Priorities Resolution Document here: http://www.dsausa.org/dsa_priorities_resolution_2017)

Whereas in September 2017, DSA’s National Political Committee (NPC) endorsed Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All legislation, writing, “Socialists and progressives have been fighting for universal health coverage for decades. Thanks to their efforts and the political leadership of Bernie Sanders, that goal no longer feels like an impossible dream. It’s time to turn the dream into reality.” (You can read the full endorsement here: http://www.dsausa.org/medicare_for_all_act_of_2017)

Whereas while East Bay DSA has been a leading voice in the fight for the state-based single payer bill in California, SB562, Democratic legislators have blocked the legislation for the time being. This is why, as socialists, we know we need to make our fight bigger — by connecting local campaigns to more visible federal Medicare for All legislation, but also by focusing our campaign on socialist politics and the principles of a humane healthcare system, not just legislation. As the movement for socialist healthcare grows larger, more politically confident, and more independent of establishment politics, legislators will have an increasingly hard time blocking legislation like SB562.

Therefore be it resolved that East Bay DSA joins with our comrades across the country in the national DSA campaign for Medicare for All to educate, agitate and organize for a system where health care decisions are determined by patients and their caregivers, where people come before profits, where healthcare is secured as a social right and access is not determined by corporate profiteers and health insurance billionaires. We are committed to fighting for a system that abides by the following five principles of socialist healthcare:

  1. A single program — not a patchwork of multi-payer state and federal systems.
  2. Comprehensive coverage all services requiring a medical professional will be covered.
  3. Free at the point of service — financed through progressive tax contributions based on ability to pay, not shifting costs onto the sick: no fees, no copays, no cost-sharing.
  4. Universal coverage coverage for all U.S. residents — non-citizens included. Universal coverage covering everybody living in the US regardless of citizenship status.
  5. Jobs — replacement and severance for those affected by the transition.

Be it further resolved that the chapter will participate in the campaign for Medicare for All. Additionally, the chapter will campaign for statewide single payer and other healthcare-related legislation, and candidates endorsed by the chapter supportive of the above socialist healthcare principles, especially as each of these helps build a broader working class movement for non-reformist reforms such as Medicare for All.

Be it further resolved that the chapter will pursue these political aims by undertaking a range of mass-oriented organizing tactics including but not limited to canvassing, rallies, educational events, and direct action.

Bay to Brake Lights Endorsement Proposal

Following the vote on the Medicare for all proposal, Joey Kellner motivated the following proposal regarding the Bay to Brake Lights project. The proposal passed following debate and without amendments.

Submitted by Joey Kellner

Passed by majority vote of the membership

Whereas, comrades from East Bay DSA and several aligned groups are already organizing the Bay to Brake Lights bulb-replacement clinics (henceforth, Bay to Brake Lights), which will take place in locations around the greater Bay Area (not just in East Bay),

Whereas, East Bay DSA stands opposed to the capitalist justice system, and the oppression by police of vulnerable members of our community,

Whereas, brake light infractions are the most common pretext for police to pull over vulnerable people, particularly people of color, who are then subject to assaults on their dignity, including harassment, burdensome fines, or bodily injury,

Whereas, East Bay DSA believes that an injury to one is an injury to all, and that we must struggle against oppression of this kind at all levels,

Whereas, as part of this struggle, East Bay DSA seeks to build coalitions with other socialist and anti-oppression organizations in our community, many of which – including DSA SF, DSA North Bay, South Bay DSA, Silicon Valley DSA, and aligned auto mechanics – have already endorsed Bay to Brake Lights,

Whereas, programs of this type have already met with success across the country, beginning with our comrades in New Orleans DSA,

Whereas, questions of funding have already been largely resolved by crowdsourcing and donation drives prior to this resolution,

Therefore be it resolved, that East Bay Democratic Socialists of America officially endorses Bay to Brake Lights, and that the External Organizing Committee will provide support for promotion, organizing, and volunteer recruitment for the events.

Be it further resolved, that East Bay Democratic Socialists of America reserves the right to participate in practical decisions regarding the functioning and organizing of Bay to Brake Lights, in collaboration with other organizations and working groups currently developing the program. To this end, the EOC may appoint or designate an organizer to attend and participate in all Bay to Brake Lights planning meetings, who will be kept informed of all major organizational developments. In the event that over time, the events change significantly in format, tactics, goals, or coalition partners from the definition provided ("a series of auto repair clinics around the Bay Area which replace brake lights and tail lights for free"), the EOC or LC may re-evaluate its level or format of support for the events.

The meeting was adjourned at 4 p.m.