East Bay DSA Platform

and 2022 - 2023 Organizational Priorities

Drafted and adopted by the entire membership of East Bay Democratic Socialists of America in 2021, our Chapter Platform outlines ongoing strategies and issues to focus on, with unity and urgency, toward achieving a democratic socialist world together. All Platform planks represent analysis, positions, and efforts that our chapter supports. Work connected to priority planks of this platform will get preferred access to chapter resources which may include chapter funds, promotion in chapter communications, and aid in volunteer recruitment. Members are encouraged to focus efforts on work tied to priority planks.This document serves as the base for guiding the work of the chapter and of our committees until our next convention. Amended and adopted by the membership of East Bay DSA in June 2022, May 2023, and June 2024.

Preamble

The injustices of our time are the direct result of racialized capitalism. An international ruling class has become wealthier than any in history, enriching themselves through price-gouging, ecological pillage, and the labor of exploited workers. To prop up their rule, the ultra-wealthy few increasingly drop any charade of liberal democracy, as they brutally divide and conquer working people using the lines of race, gender, and borders.

The growth of the Democratic Socialists of America offers the best opportunity in generations to provide a unifying force between these struggles, one able to coordinate and build socialist ideas among millions of working people.

At the center of our struggle for social and economic justice is the working class. The working class is the only social force with both an interest in fighting for deep social transformation and the leverage to win it. Disruptive actions like strikes and walkouts that stop the engine of profit, and mass protests like the ones that erupted across the country in 2020 have the power to bring change, especially when connected to socialist analysis and organization. Our chapter is committed to organizing strategically to bring the working class into mass action in class struggle against capitalism and all forms of oppression. 

Our road to democratic socialism will require growing, democratic, leftwing labor unions. It will require engaging in electoral campaigns to win state power and eventually achieve a fully independent worker’s party. It will require an unwavering solidarity in fighting oppression. It will require socialist internationalism and solidarity with struggles against global capitalism and imperialism. It will require a commitment to our own collective political education. And it will require DSA to further become a multiracial, democratic, mass organization.

What is the democratic socialist world we seek to build? We organize for a just society, where working people make the decisions that determine our destiny. We organize for a society free of oppressions of race, gender, sexuality, and borders. We organize for a world where basic needs—education, healthcare, housing, and the environment—are never commodified for profit, but instead provided freely for all. This is the socialist world we want.

Platform Planks 

For the purposes of the chapter bylaws, the priority planks constitute the organizational priorities of the chapter.

Priority Plank #1: Racial Solidarity & Diversifying DSA

Racism is an essential element of capitalism, which divides the working class and reproduces racialized disparities in wealth and social status. To bring that system to an end, we must center socialist Black and Brown liberation struggles in our chapter’s work because the fight for BIPOC liberation and against imperialism has been central to the development and continuity of socialism in the US. Our fight against the systems that oppress us must be as deeply interwoven as those systems. Our liberation is collective. We know that the fight against racism is not ancillary to the fight against capitalism, but integral to that fight. We seek to put these politics into practice.

We must embrace existing BIPOC resistance and liberation struggles. As we do this, we must continue to offer an anti-racist socialist analysis and vision to the conditions of the working class. We must become and see ourselves and East Bay DSA as agents within Black and Brown struggle––and not outside of it.

Socialists must reject liberal solutions to racism which emphasize individual choices and self-improvement, and do nothing to fight the emerging threats from the right. Instead we should embrace a multi-racial struggle of the working class for a world without racism.

To achieve any of our political goals, DSA must strive to be more racially and economically representative of the working class. If socialism remains a politics cloistered in a tiny segment of society, it will never command the power required to win. That is why we must remain focused on engaging in, and recruiting through, strategic external campaigns that bring us in regular contact with working class people of color. 

East Bay DSA will: 

  • Campaign to transition public funds from policing to essential services that support our community
  • Campaign to end the occupation of Palestine and US military aid to Israel and organize in solidarity with Palestinian-led organizations
  • Prioritize recruiting working class candidates of color to run for office who can act as champions for our vision
  • Continue and expand our work with racially diverse unions like ATU 192, SEIU 1021, and Oakland Education Association, and actively recruit socialist unionists into DSA through these campaigns
  • Develop strategies to increase DSA’s credibility as a working class institution and to recruit and retain new members of color
  • Continue to hold regular Socialist Night Schools on anti-racism

Priority Plank #2) Rank-and-File Labor Organizing & Solidarity

As socialists, we understand that the fundamental division in society is between the capitalist minority and the working class majority. Because of their position in the economy, workers can disrupt the flow of profit, or, if in the public sector, cause political crisis by striking. The workplace is a key site of struggle: workers have the capacity and self-interest to learn, build, and leverage power by organizing with their coworkers on the basis of their common interest in overcoming exploitation. By leveraging this power, workers can extract concessions from capitalists and the state, and, if organized to do so, win a better life for all oppressed groups. Only the working class, organized from below and fighting in its own interests, has the power to wrest reforms under capitalism and usher in a socialist society.

Winning socialism will require a level of working class organization and militancy not seen in this country for nearly a century. Though unions are the largest and longest-standing working class institutions in the country, we recognize that many unions today are neither democratic nor effective vehicles for working class power. Our task is to help build the power, democracy, and militancy of unions, and of the labor movement more broadly, so that it can fight for increasingly larger and more systemic classwide demands. At the heart of this strategy is empowering rank-and-file workers to lead and determine the course of union and labor struggles.

Workers are divided by race/ethnicity, gender, geography, immigration status, sector/occupation, and more. For the working class to win socialism -- a society based on social ownership and democratic control over the means of production -- it must first unite across divisions and actively recognize itself as a class. Workplace struggles and unions are a crucial site for the development of revolutionary class consciousness where the working class develops its capacity and confidence to fight and lead. While workers today are fighting back in unprecedented ways, there is still a long way to go.

In order to realize their potential, unions must facilitate workers’ ability to self-organize and build multiracial solidarity. These fights should be based in the realities of the shop floor, where the exploitation and oppressions of capitalism are felt personally and immediately, but must also expand beyond the confines of the workplace to transform society at large.

The present alienation between the socialist and labor movement, resulting from decades of ruling class attack, constitutes a key strategic barrier for advancing the socialist and working class movements. Therefore, the reintegration and mutual growth of these two movements is our strategic north star.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Support campaigns that build strong, lasting relationships with rank-and-file workers in education, transit, healthcare, and logistics, prioritizing those in unionized workplaces, including but not limited to: OEA, SEIU 1021 and ATU 192, and deepen those relationships through continued solidarity and training opportunities
  • Involve members in picket support, design and materials production, community turnout, organizing training, and/or fundraising
  • Publicize worker stories and promote rank-and-file perspectives through Majority or other chapter platforms
  • Devote chapter resources to building out Majority’s labor reporting apparatus
  • Prioritize labor reporting that builds long standing relationships with workers on the basis of ongoing campaigns
  • Where possible, coordinate and develop labor solidarity work with an eye towards supporting projects like labor circles and the Jobs Program so that East Bay DSA members can be best positioned in the long term to aid in both external and internal union organizing Create opportunities for rank-and-file union members to meet and strategize with fellow DSA members in the same industries, through projects such as Labor Circles
  • Encourage members to take strategic jobs with the purpose of workplace organizing through the Jobs Program, and empower our members to organize in their current workplaces
  • Through the chapter Labor Committee's East Bay Workplace Organizing Committee (EBWOC), continue to coordinate with the national Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee (EWOC) and support Bay Area workers looking to form unions or take on other workplace campaigns. This support will ideally (based on worker interest) continue beyond an election or recognition victory and extend into contract negotiations and beyond, connecting workers to a broader political project through East Bay DSA.
  • Educate members and the public on the labor movement: its history, its present, and the challenges and opportunities ahead, including how the working class can be unified across social, sectoral, and geographical boundaries through connective struggles, such as the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Develop meaningful relationships with progressive democratic local labor organizations that empower their rank-and-file members to self-organize

Priority Plank #3: Class Struggle Elections

While as socialists we understand that we won’t elect our way to socialism, electoral politics are still significant to our project. Most working class people in the US conceive of politics through elections, meaning that they have high visibility. Further, socialist electeds can serve as extensions of working-class movements while in office, raising demands and growing our power both inside and outside the state.

East Bay DSA supports class-struggle candidates: socialists who are by, of, and for the working class and who will use their campaigns and office to foster working-class militancy and consciousness, draw sharp political lines with capitalists, and build socialist power independent of capitalist parties.

East Bay DSA should be electorally proactive, endorsing selectively and building our own electoral organizing powerhouse. This means rooting our electoral work in the organic movement of the working class, recruiting candidates from our organization and campaigns to run as class-struggle candidates, and avoiding progressives who may deserve our vote but not our resources.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Endorse and support only class-struggle candidates and ballot measures that:
  • Raise the expectations of the working class, unite them against a common capitalist enemy, and promote mass working-class movements outside the state;
  • Openly identify as socialists;
  • Are members of DSA;
  • Publicly support the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and act in alignment with our chapter’s democratically decided position on Palestine solidarity
  • Take no corporate, private prison, law enforcement or real estate money.
  • Use the electoral campaigns that we engage in to meet the following goals:
  • Spread class consciousness and build the power and militancy of the working class;
  • Build DSA by growing our capacity and recruiting new working-class members;
  • Make and potentially win anti-racist socialist demands;
  • Strengthen relationships with key coalition partners, especially organized labor.
  • Explore opportunities for ballot initiative efforts 
  • Maintain ongoing relationships with elected officials we’ve supported, to use their position to further our priorities
  • Shift from primarily choosing among already-existing campaigns for endorsement to recruiting working-class socialist leaders, especially socialists of color, to run for office from within DSA.
  • Explore opportunities to place our initiatives on the ballot

Priority Plank #4: Member Onboarding and Development

For East Bay DSA to grow and reproduce itself, it is essential to continually develop the skills of new and existing members. It is also essential for chapter members to have access to a political education program that allows for the free development of ideas and that can address the theoretical and strategic questions that winning socialism requires.

We must commit to onboarding, retaining, and training a new generation of socialists that can win campaigns and build DSA and other independent working class organizations on the local and national level.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Ensure that onboarding and ongoing development of members of groups underrepresented in DSA, especially people of color, women and non-binary people, and undocumented people receives special focus and attention.
  • Support the formation of chapter branches in geographic areas where there is demonstrated interest and leadership capacity, and provide branch organizers with needed leadership development and skills trainings.
  • Continue ongoing member development through mentorship, leadership resources, onboarding structures, skills trainings, and political education for all members, including new members and current and emerging leaders. 
  • Integrate recruitment as a goal within existing chapter campaigns and participation in mass movements, especially of working class people from groups underrepresented in the chapter.
  • Continue the Socialist Night School, and other political education opportunities that support both members new to socialism and long-time socialists seeking to deepen their analysis, while seeking to expand the diversity of assigned authors, to incorporate discussion on our priority focuses, and to feature critical discussion on current relevant topics

Plank #5) Towards An Independent Workers Party

The Democratic Party is funded by and serves the interests of capitalists. Meanwhile there is no comparable organization of and for the multi-racial working class. Without any major left alternative, unions and anyone who cares about justice and equality are trapped within the Democratic Party as junior partners to the ruling class. 

Mass workers’ parties, independent of capitalist interests, have historically been essential for organizing workers as a powerful and united political force.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Commit to a class-struggle electoral strategy and the eventual construction of a mass workers’ party independent of the pro-capitalist Democratic Party. While we recognize that it might not always be possible for all DSA-endorsed candidates to run independently of the Democrats, we reject attempts to take over the Democratic Party.
  • Explain where appropriate through campaigns and media that the Democratic Party primarily represents capitalists, who profit at the expense of working and oppressed people and the planet; and explain why workers need to construct their own political party. We encourage politicians and candidates endorsed by East Bay DSA to use their public platforms to do the same.
  • Explore future opportunities with unions and other allied organizations for democratic socialist candidates to run independently of the Democratic Party since ballot access in California is not restricted by party, ultimately to form a new party of and for workers in California.

Plank #6) Healthcare and Reproductive Justice  

East Bay DSA is committed to fighting for a democratic socialist vision of single-payer healthcare, based on national DSA’s five principles; that means a single, universal program that’s free at the point of service, offers comprehensive coverage, and a jobs initiative and severance for those affected by the transition to a public single-payer system.

Right-wing attacks on reproductive health rights, and liberal incompetence in responding to these attacks, demonstrate the need to continue agitating for reproductive justice and sexual health as additional uncompromised principles of universal healthcare.

Plank #7) End the Wars, at Home and Abroad

Imperialism is an essential aspect of capitalism. As socialists living in the belly of the beast, we have a responsibility to work to dismantle the US empire. 

The task is more urgent today than ever before. In an era of intersecting crises, the ruling class retrenches further into policing and militarism in order to put down resistance. Poverty, food insecurity, and paramilitary terror spread around the world as coups and invasions absorb more nations into the neocolonial system. Populations in the US are increasingly unable to meet the basic needs of survival as resources are channeled into an extravagant military budget. The threat of nuclear war has never been greater, and the US military remains one of the world’s largest polluters.

Militarism is tightly connected with policing and the maintenance of white supremacy, as repeatedly demonstrated by the deployment of the National Guard, regular military, and militarized police against participants in uprisings and protests. All this fits neatly with the racist history of US foreign policy, marked by white-settler nationalism, expansionism, and American exceptionalism.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Support campaigns for BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) and organize in solidarity with Palestinian-led organizations in the Bay Area
  • Conduct political education about the historical development and current dynamics of US imperialism, anti-colonial, and anti-imperial struggles.
  • Build capacity for mass mobilization in emergency situations by working in coalition with existing anti-war, migrant justice, and climate/environmental justice organizations in the Bay Area

Plank #8) Socialism and the Climate/Environment 

Under capitalism, there can be no just and ecologically sustainable future for human society. Capitalist pursuit of infinite growth has wrought an urgent and accelerating ecological crisis that will continue to destroy the lives of working class people unless we control our own ability to survive and thrive. Solutions must be rooted in improving quality of life if they are to gain popular support. 

Socialism must be the core of a solution to existential ecological crisis. It is a vision for reorienting our society and economy to serve people over profit. As socialists, we stand against new and existing fossil fuel infrastructure and aim to create an economy powered by publicly owned, clean, renewable, energy. We reject market based solutions and instead support placing the resources necessary for survival—energy, water, housing, transit, food—under public control. We recognize the value of work in the care and protection of life, not in the production of commodities. A socialist approach to climate acknowledges the historical legacy of environmental racism and directly improves conditions for Black, Indigenous, people of color, and other historically oppressed populations. A socialist future will prioritize liberation of communities most affected by climate change and global extractive industry, honor the debt owed by the wealthy nations of the Global North to the peoples of the Global South, and provide the necessary resources for the Global South to flourish without dependence on fossil fuels.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Support union workers and communities dependent on the fossil fuel industry and fight for their full protection as the transition to renewable energy unfolds
  • Expand ties with union members working in healthcare, education, service, and other sectors to build support for a just and equitable transition to a fossil-free economy; and 
  • Collaborate with other groups in the Bay Area climate and environmental justice movement to encourage class consciousness and growing awareness among green allies that capitalism is incompatible with a long-term strategy for ecological survival

Plank #9) Transit for the People

Public transit is a vital public good for the East Bay’s multi-racial working class. It connects the working class - and especially students, seniors, and the disabled - to jobs, schools, healthcare, and grocery stores. The East Bay’s public bus system, AC Transit, has the lowest income ridership out of the Bay Area’s two dozen transit systems: over 70% of AC Transit’s ridership would qualify for income assistance. Public transit is also a key racial justice issue: 75% of the ridership are people of color, as are the vast majority of transit workers.  

Public transit is heavily unionized, and AC Transit provides good union jobs for its predominantly Black work force. The more we strengthen public transportation, the more we directly weaken exploitative transit corporations like Uber/Lyft and build up the Bay Area’s labor movement.  

Public transit is critical to addressing the climate crisis, as transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Toxic emissions lead to asthma, heart and lung disease, and premature death. In Oakland, over half of the toxic emissions are tied to transportation. This affects us all, but disproportionately affects East and West Oakland residents (emissions are five times higher in West Oakland than in the more affluent neighborhoods). Strengthening public transit is key to addressing the East Bay’s notorious environmental racism problem. 

Transit has been hit hard by the pandemic but at the same time growing public support for better transit service, and fare-free transit is growing. AC Transit was created as a publicly-owned institution by working-class struggle, beginning with the 1946 Oakland general strike. We are at a pivotal moment where transit could be reformulated through a socialist vision or could be lost forever as a public service.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Continue to build a labor-centered coalition including ATU 192, Voices for Public Transit, and other DSA chapters to push to restore transit service and expand jobs to at least pre-pandemic levels this year.
  • Support making AC Transit fare-free and drastically expand service. Fare free transit would also weaken a racist system of policing and ticketing.
  • Turn out workers and riders to pressure transportation agencies and fight for policies such as safer working conditions that prioritize the multi-racial working class, through a combination of inside and outside tactics;
  • Identify and organize around common good demands which link workers and riders struggles.
  • Provide coverage of what is happening in East Bay’s Public Transit systems.

Plank #10) Decommodification of Housing

The housing market, along with the workplace, is one of the key places where the working class experiences direct exploitation by the capitalist class. Home ownership has been the key way working-class people have been able to build a modicum of wealth in this country, but skyrocketing property values and the decline of real earnings have put that dream out of reach. At the same time, residential segregation and redlining are the major driving force in perpetuating racial inequality in the United States. In cities across the country, rental prices have been driven higher and higher and homelessness has skyrocketed as a result.

Capital is exploiting the very crisis it has created, claiming that building lots of market-rate and above-market rate housing will solve this very crisis it has created (YIMBYism), arguing that older housing will supposedly trickle down to working and low-income people. But this ignores reality, including that the United States — and the East Bay — already has massively more vacant housing than homeless individuals. Mass development of market-rate housing will instead further raise land prices, gentrify communities, and drive out tenants. Building more market-rate housing cannot and will not solve our housing affordability crisis, and worsens the status quo. Instead, we need universal, permanently affordable social housing.

We seek to counter the dangers we are facing by building on the insurgent tenant movement, and further decommodifying housing and land. This can be done through canceling rent, closing eviction courts, and, as landlords exit the market, using state action to acquire private property and transform into public democratically controlled housing. We seek to build more connected and inclusive neighborhoods and communities by building out tenant unions and other local organizing.

In the long term, we seek decommodification of housing because capitalism cannot provide basic rights to shelter. We demand social housing that is high-density, racially and income integrated, democratically run, ecologically designed, high-quality, permanently affordable, and off the private market. 

These goals will take a mass movement of organized tenants, houseless people, and homeowners standing in solidarity, organizing against exploitation and state repression. Such a movement must intersect with the movement against the racist police state, as we seek to defund police, decriminalize houselessness, and redistribute resources toward systems of care and mutual security like social housing. 

East Bay DSA will:

  • Find opportunities to support and collaborate with Tenant and Neighborhood Councils (TANC), including by encouraging East Bay DSA members to organize their buildings with TANC.
  • Educate, train, and mobilize members to become tenant organizers, organizing the buildings they rent and collaborating with working-class organizations and tenant councils to build power in the tenants’ movement. 
  • Mobilize to prevent mass evictions and foreclosures and to support houseless residents through direct actions, including eviction defense, and mutual aid. 
  • Mobilize to support legislation canceling rents and mortgages, granting tenants’ control over their homes, protecting and promoting tenant unionization, removing restrictions on strong rent control, instituting vacancy taxes that are high enough to compel landlords to offer all their housing and lower rents and creating social housing.
  • Mobilize to oppose legislation that deregulates land use to build market-rate housing; and to support legislation that strengthens inclusionary zoning requirements.

Plank #11) A World Without Prisons or Police

The origins of policing and prisons make an indisputable case that they are white supremacist capitalist institutions, profiting from reproducing and exploiting racial inequalities. Yet these same institutions, in their disproportionate violence against Black, Indigenous and other People of Color, have consequences for the whole of the working class—they widen divisions between people, consolidate and expand police power, and accelerate institutional incentives to attack and imprison millions of people. For all of the working class to achieve collective liberation we must constrain, diminish, and abolish the carceral forces of the state—from prisons and police themselves, to their manifestations in all forms throughout society. We are committed to the horizon of abolition and the path leading us there because each step forward in reducing the size, power, and authority of the repressive forces of the state expands the space for mass, organized, and collective action of the working class, and clears ground for us to build power and win real justice and equality.

East Bay DSA will: 

  • Conduct political education to raise consciousness about abolition struggles and how to effectively fight against the carceral state.
  • Seek out coalitions with membership based majority BIPOC organizations fighting against the carceral system and police brutality.
  • Reject any expansion of prisons, police budgets and training facilities, or the scope of police enforcement while demanding the highest possible budget cuts annually towards zero. 
  • Demand investment in public education, universal childcare, housing, healthcare and support for all family structures beyond punitive models of care and discipline.

East Bay DSA supports:

  • Repealing local ordinances criminalizing poverty and the occupation of public spaces—particularly for people experiencing homelessness
  • Decriminalization of sex work
  • Decriminalization of immigration and abolishing ICE
  • Universal voting rights for those currently in prison or on parole
  • Transitioning functions such as traffic enforcement and mental health away from police departments into well-paid, public-sector union jobs. 
  • Disarming and demilitarizing the police