Platform

Drafted and adopted by the entire membership of East Bay DSA, this 2021 East Bay Democratic Socialists of America Organizational Priorities and Chapter Platform proposes not only ongoing strategies and for what we can best organize for in the coming year, but also what issues to focus on for the next year, with unity and urgency, toward achieving a democratic socialist world together. This document serves as the base for guiding the work of the chapter and of our committees until our next convention. This document was voted on May 16th, 2021, and ratified by the Steering Committee after being edited for style consistency on June 13, 2021.

COVID-19 has upended the world as we know it, exposing and magnifying the pre-existing inequalities in our society. Thousands of working-class people—disproportionately people of color—have died and are dying from unsafe working conditions or lack of healthcare. This global pandemic has resulted in an economic recession that has left millions of people unemployed and unable to pay rent. The powerful are using this crisis as a springboard for an agenda of austerity and corporate bailouts, and ordinary people are being pushed to their limits and grasping hold of collective liberation. The racist police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and thousands of others have simultaneously ignited a surge of protests, direct action, and organizing. The uprising has surpassed the Civil Rights movement in scale and has provoked a national movement to defund the police, which DSA has taken up as a priority.

The injustices of this period 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 to 92,000 members 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.

In the pre-COVID era, we won California for Bernie Sanders. Bernie’s ultimate electoral defeat was not a failure, but reminds us that there are no shortcuts to democratic socialism. It demonstrated the power of collective action and has grown DSA by the thousands. We inspired people across the world with a truly working-class program.

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 rippling across the country have the power to bring change. 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.

Organizational Priorities

Originally our chapter general body voted to adopt 3 Organizational Priorities on March 14th, 2021. Per the resolution passed, “East Bay DSA Steering Committee will be tasked with carrying out this Priorities Resolution by allotting appropriate chapter resources to the Priority Campaigns. Resources may include chapter funds, promotion in chapter communications, and aid in volunteer recruitment.” Through the convention process, a total of 4 organizational priorities were submitted. Through a suspension of the convention rules, the chapter voted to adopt all 4 proposed priorities, which are listed below. 

Center Black & Brown Liberation Movements 

Capitalism creates scarcity for the goods essential to life, which in turn disproportionately deprives BIPOC of housing, jobs, healthcare and other necessary services. Rather than invest in society and deal with the root causes of crime, the United States chooses to imprison approximately 2 million of its citizens, the highest rate in the world. Of those inmates, 34% are Black, despite accounting for only 11% of the US population. Both the disproportionate economic exploitation and higher instances of criminalization are seized on by right wing media, like Fox News, to perpetuate harmful racial stereotypes that further divide the working class, despite our shared interest in defeating economic exploitation and the prison system. 

Even voting rights, long thought to be the sacrosanct legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, are actively under attack. Elected Democrats have met efforts to disenfranchise black people, immigrants, and the poor with little more than a shrug and a press conference. Socialists must lead the way in protecting and expanding political democracy regardless of the color of your skin, where you were born, or what you can afford. 

At the same time we 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 recruiting through strategic external campaigns that bring us in regular contact with working class people of color. 

East Bay DSA will: 

  • Continue our campaigns to transition public funds from policing to essential services that support our community
  • Prioritize recruiting working class candidates of color to run for office that can act as champions for our vision and attract a more diverse membership
  • 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
  • Train our campaign and committee leaders on strategic recruitment that will emphasize the need to identify, recruit, and promote leaders of color within East Bay DSA campaigns and elected leadership 
  • Prioritize producing bilingual communications, with a particular emphasis on developing Spanish language materials and increasing the number of Spanish speakers in the Chapter
  • Establish regular AfroSocialists and Socialists of Color Caucus socials
  • Continue to hold regular Night Schools on anti-racism
  • Regularly review our anti-racist work and our progress toward BIPOC recruitment through the Steering Committee

Class Struggle Elections

East Bay DSA has expanded and refined our ability to run election campaigns over the last few years. During the 2020 election cycle, we recruited, trained, and mobilized hundreds of volunteers to canvas thousands of voters, created our own campaign literature, raised funds, learned election law, and helped elect genuine radicals like Carroll Fife and Jovanka Beckles to local office.

However, we have mostly been limited to supporting candidates who were already planning to run and ballot initiatives designed by other groups. Meanwhile, organic, working-class socialist leaders often do not have the resources to run a successful campaign, especially those from marginalized backgrounds.

2021 is an off-year for local elections, so now is the time to remedy that situation--to begin the long-term planning that will propel home-grown DSA campaigns to victory in 2022 and beyond. While we continue to build on our success in local elections, we hope to — in conjunction with California DSA — be able to build power in the state legislature.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Identify a short list of key races in coming years, in which socialist candidates or initiatives have a reasonable chance of winning, and where, if our candidate is elected or our initiative is passed, winning that election would provide the best opportunity to further our other political priorities.
  • Focus on creating a socialist candidate pipeline for 2022 and beyond, by connecting emerging socialist and labor leaders with our existing elected leaders for mentorship, helping prospective candidates apply to citizen oversight boards, and hold frank discussions about policy and political opportunity. The goal of this pipeline would be to 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.
  • Develop a ballot initiative team to consider where our political priorities would best be advanced via California’s robust ballot initiative system. This team should build the capacity to propose concrete initiative plans, draft the text of proposed initiatives, plan a successful signature-gathering plan and/or work with supportive elected officials to place our initiatives on the ballot, etc.
  • Create a DSA in Office team to maintain ongoing relationships with elected officials we’ve supported, to continue our relationships with them and use their position to further our political priorities.
  • Continue to use the Class Struggle Elections criteria passed at the last convention to guide our strategic decision-making, unless amended by the chapter at a later date.

Focus on Onboarding and Providing Tools for Membership Empowerment

Since 2016, East Bay DSA has grown into one of the largest DSA chapters in the country. However, East Bay DSA’s activation rate is below 50% and increasing our activation rate to above 50% would help us make the most of our existing membership.

New members have already shared similar feedback across the board of difficulty navigating East Bay DSA’s structures and acclimating to the frequently brand-new experience of being in a democratic, mass-oriented, member-led, working-class political organization. Likewise, established members who have potential to grow into new leadership for the chapter often encounter inconsistent mentorship and resources for leadership development, encouraging a culture of either “sink or swim” growth, or disengagement all together. 

Previous intentional investments of resources and attention have paid off immensely, including the Mobilizer Program (which has now spread to the state and national levels), New Member Handbook, Intro to DSA events, and Organizer’s Toolbox Trainings. As we enter a new phase for socialist organizing, we must commit to onboarding, retaining, and training a new generation of socialists that can win campaigns on the local and national level.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Make development of its onboarding program and new leadership development a priority for the chapter in 2021-22
  • Ensure that onboarding and ongoing development of groups underrepresented in DSA, especially BIPOC and undocumented people receives special focus and attention, including but not limited to: Translating new materials, developing best practices for storing demographic information in line with protocols developed by the Growth and Development Committee, and organizing BIPOC-only onboarding events and socials.
  • Draft a plan for new member onboarding through the Member Engagement Committee that includes developing introductory materials that continue where the New Member Handbook leaves off and developing a more robust onboarding program using a cohort system (similar to the one used by the Sunrise Movement), and a strong mentorship program similar to the "Rose Buddies" system used in Chicago.
  • Draft a similar plan for ongoing member development that includes an expansion of existing leadership resource material, as well as more formal mentorship, onboarding and training structure for new or potential leaders that is more widely accessible.
  • Collaborate with Political Education and RSC to create a regular and robust Socialism 101 program highlighting but not limited to the history of racial capitalism in the United States, socialist feminism, internationalism, and anti-colonial socialist traditions for new members. 
  • Solicit feedback on these plans from currently elected committee co-chairs on specific member onboarding priorities of their committees and submit the plan to the Steering Committee for approval
  • Develop best practices and training for leaders to create clear engagement, recruitment, and onboarding paths for members as well as how to identify and train diverse leaders and spokespeople for all of our campaigns. 
  • Allocate a budget line item to this working group, post copy provided by the working group to chapter social media and the newsletter to encourage participation, and conduct a presentation for the chapter membership at a general meeting
  • Involve at least 50% of our membership to attend an event in the upcoming year.

Rank-and File Labor Support & 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 militacy 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.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Support campaigns that build strong, lasting relationships with rank-and-file workers in education, transit, healthcare, and logistics around reopening and anti-austerity fights, prioritizing those in unionized workplaces, including but not limited to:
  • Support Oakland Education Association teachers in their fight for safe reopening & less standardized testing
  • Support Alameda Health System (AHS) workers in their fight to take AHS public, and to protect workers and patients during the pandemic
  • Support workers at transit unions across the Bay Area, but particularly at ATU Local 192, in the fight to restore transit service to pre-pandemic levels by hiring more union workers
  • 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
  • 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

Chapter Platform

Electoral

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;
  • Take no corporate, private prisons, 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.
  • Develop an Electoral Committee and Endorsements Process that is capable of and empowered to identify strategic races, prepare our own candidates to run for office, do key research, communications, fundraising, and field work, and create a more rigorous endorsements process

Progressive Taxation and Fighting Austerity

The narrow loss of Prop 15 in 2020 leaves California without an important new mechanism for raising revenue from the sources best able to pay. New proposals in the works provide an opportunity for East Bay DSA to remain active in the fight for progressive taxes. The pandemic-induced Depression means California tax revenues will be hit hard, and budget and program cuts inevitable without new revenue sources, especially impacting working class communities of color, while the super rich have obscenely increased their wealth. East Bay DSA should continue to advocate for broader progressive tax goals within and while supporting the movement to Defund the Police. Work on progressive tax legislation and ballot measures at local and state levels allows East Bay DSA to strengthen its labor outreach and alliances, and educate our members on labor’s centrality to the socialist project as well as the importance of progressive taxation to raise class consciousness. This work does not occur only within election years. The state’s progressive tax coalition engages in research, discussion, education of the public and alliance-building in off-election years. If engaged, East Bay DSA could play a role in shaping these activities before the next electoral campaign. Therefore, East Bay DSA will make progressive tax work a top priority of the chapter in 2021.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Coordinate the work of the East Bay DSA Labor and Electoral Committees (and other appropriate bodies) to integrate our progressive tax efforts with our other goals and activities;
  • Align our work on progressive taxes with the goals and tasks delineated by the statewide DSA Labor Working Group, including education about inequality and tax policy, and recruitment to active involvement among our members in coalition efforts;
  • Include progressive tax policy within our criteria for endorsement of candidates for office as appropriate.

Towards An Independent Workers Party

The Democratic Party dominates California politics. Nevertheless, even before the pandemic 150,000 people experienced homelessness daily while investors make billions off our rent, our state is poisoned by corporate pollution, underfunded schools fail our children, and billions are spent each year on incarceration.

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 wealthy donors.

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 progressive allies 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.

Mass Issue Campaigns

Campaign to Win California Single-Payer and Medicare for All

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.

A California single-payer system like the one established by the Healthy California Act meets these criteria. It would decommodify health insurance and guarantee healthcare as a right to every resident of California, regardless of income, employment, or citizenship status. By uncoupling insurance from employment, California single-payer would build power for the working class.

If Biden wins in November, state single-payer in California is the most strategic policy step towards national Medicare for All. East Bay DSA should prioritize a campaign for CA single-payer in 2021, contingent on Biden victory.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new urgency for reforming our broken market-based healthcare system. Socially determined racial disparities in health outcomes during COVID-19 must be addressed by a universal healthcare system that provides guaranteed comprehensive care, free at the point of service. 

East Bay DSA will:

  • If Biden wins in November, organize with DSA’s National Medicare for All Committee and other California DSA chapters to pass statewide single-payer in 2021 through a wide range of tactics.
  • Pressure the Governor to submit a federal waiver request to capture federal resources and support for California single-payer.
  • Position statewide single-payer and Medicare or All as the best policy tool for addressing racial health disparities.
  • Agitate against insurance and pharmaceutical companies to build class consciousness around the issue.
  • Agitate for reproductive justice and sexual health as additional uncompromised principles of universal healthcare

Center Black & Brown Liberation Movements

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, because of their fundamental critique and confrontation with capital. 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, including mass movements like the George Floyd Uprisings, in the Bay Area––from high school students to established non-profits and working class institutions. As we do this, we must continue to offer an anti-racist socialist analysis and vision to the conditions of the working class, and the shortcomings of the existing institutions. We must see ourselves and East Bay DSA as agents within Black and Brown struggle––a fundamentally working-class struggle––and not outside of it.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Support and develop BIPOC leadership as we organize in East Bay communities like Richmond, Hayward, and East Oakland
  • Continue to launch and develop diverse YDSA chapters
  • Prioritize and commit to developing BIPOC members through affirmative action in all our elections, committees, and working groups
  • Support militant BIPOC rank and file and unorganized workers
  • Develop strategies to increase DSA’s credibility as a working class institution and to retain new members of color

Center Mass Movements

This year has shown the power of mass movements to bring people into the streets to fight for systemic change by disrupting the accumulation of capital. In the street, we come into conflict with the State's repressive power––and into community with one another where visions of another world emerge. 

The fundamental principle of mass movements is the refusal of delegation or representation. We activate the power we have when we act collectively to take our lives into our own hands. Movements prepare us to run society for ourselves––not for profit.

Mass movements are the most effective way for the working class to win material concessions from racialized capitalism. They are the most effective way in which we voice and fight for our demands in a political and economic system that is fundamentally designed to deny us power. Mass movements reaffirm our own power through direct contest with the State and are the way most people are radicalized. Protests and uprisings are likely to continue and intensify as unemployment and evictions increase,

East Bay DSA will:

  • Provide socialist analysis for mass education
  • Identify, support, and follow up with organic leaders, organizers, and participants as with the Berkeley High marches and the F*ck Your Curfew 
  • Participate in direct action and civil disobedience trainings
  • Connect key sectors of labor to mass movements, as with the Juneteenth ILWU port shutdown
  • Use community organizing in the long term (e.g. building local solidarity networks and mutual aid teams––outside of the State) to build and strengthen the relational and democratic structures that can catch the sparks and fan the flames of uprisings to cultivate mass movements to realize a socialist society. 

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. This was illustrated recently as the National Guard, regular military, and militarized police deployed against participants in the uprising. 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:

  • Work with the newly reconstituted DSA International Committee on its campaigns, such as the BDS campaign against Israeli apartheid and the No War campaign against sanctions on Iran.
  • Fight domestic militarization by joining campaigns such as those against Urban Shield, use of chemical weapons and less-lethal projectiles by police, and deployment of National Guard and regular military against protestors.
  • Conduct political education about the historical development and current dynamics of US imperialism; its centrality to global capitalism; anti-colonial, anti-imperial struggles; and the new cold war with China.
  • 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

Green New Deal

Under capitalism, there can be no 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. 

A socialist Green New Deal (GND) is more than a solution to existential ecological crisis. It is a vision for reorienting our society and economy to serve people over profit. A socialist GND stands against new and existing fossil fuel infrastructure and aims to create an economy powered by publicly owned, clean, renewable, energy by 2030. A socialist GND rejects market based solutions and instead places the resources necessary for survival—energy, water, housing, transit, food—under public control. A socialist GND is a union job guarantee. A socialist GND recognizes the value of work in the care and protection of life, not in the production of commodities. A socialist GND acknowledges the historical legacy of environmental racism and directly improves conditions for Black, Indigenous, people of color, and other historically oppressed populations. A socialist GND prioritizes liberation of communities most affected by climate change and global extractive industry.

East Bay DSA will:

Organize with national DSA campaigns:   

  • Organize for transformative labor policy in the spirit of the PRO Act (Protect the Right to Organize), coordinated with the national DSA Ecosocialist Working Group and other DSA structures locally and across the country
  • Organize upcoming campaigns for People's Bailout legislation and a Jobs Guarantee Act. 

Continue local campaigns and projects:

  • Green New Deal for Transit
  • Job guarantee for all legislation
  • Develop relationships with union members working in the oil industry:
  • Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA) Local 342
  • Electricians (IBEW) Local 302
  • Boilermakers (IBB) Local 549
  • Ironworkers (IW) Local 378
  • Laborers (LIUNA) Local 324
  • Painters (IUPAT) District Council 16
  • Operating Engineers (OE) Local 3
  • Steelworkers (USW) Local 326 and Local 5
  • Identify specific sectors that displaced workers might go to and plan for potential organizing drives in those sectors.
  • Push for the expansion of unemployment benefits to a maximum benefit amount of $900 per week
  • Let's Own PG&E campaign
  • Green New Deal Reading Group

For the Decommodification of Housing

The Bay Area is the epicenter of our housing and tenants’ rights crisis caused by colonization of Indigenous land, racial segregation, and capitalism. COVID-19 has exacerbated this crisis with the threat of mass evictions and foreclosures looming. The working class must get organized, unite to stand up against real estate capital and their neoliberal, pro-developer agenda (YIMBY-ism) to demand social housing, cancelling rents and mortgages, ending evictions, and sheltering the houseless. Countering real estate interests requires an understanding of the asymmetry of power at play that real estate leverages over tenants and houseless people.

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:

  • 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, creating strong universal rent control, eviction protections, and creating social housing.
  • Popularize our vision of social housing as health, racial, environmental and gender justice through political education and collaboration with other committees on efforts to defund police and tax the rich.

Political Education

In order to develop a rigorous and competent critique of capitalism and better understand the obstacles confronting a socialist project, it is 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 such a mission requires. 

East Bay DSA will:

  • Hold events which will expose members to key strategic and theoretical debates within the socialist left and will give space for members to engage in critical discussion on such topics
  • Continue the introductory Socialist Night School, 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
  • Develop an educational program for active members which will broaden and deepen their theoretical understandings, beyond the introductory ideas presented in the Socialist Night School
  • Work to integrate political education into committee meetings throughout the chapter
  • Initiate and participate in coalition events where speakers can address issues confronting a socialist movement
  • Highlight history and theory regarding socialism and the fight against oppression, and prioritize writers of marginalized identities in all our political education events. 

Pandemic Response

The COVID-19 pandemic is the predominant political and social reality in the United States and the world and is likely to be so for the near future. With vaccine roll-out underway, their efficacy in producing long-term immunity, particularly against more contagious variants, likely means booster shots will be required. The continued vaccine distribution problems mean that local flare-ups provoking shutdowns are possible at least through 2022.

We’ve seen unemployment, uninsured rates, and poverty climb as wealth inequality increases. Meanwhile, workers in essential industries such as logistics, nursing, transit, and food production and distribution are required to continue working in unsafe conditions while holding vital economic leverage. Public education workers are also engaged in fighting for safe school reopening.

It is an obvious fact that the current crisis is incompatible with a system in which the majority of the population must rely on congregating in physical proximity or in enclosed spaces to meet the basic needs of their survival.

Furthermore, the guaranteed monopolies to pharmaceutical companies developing successful vaccines or treatments ensures inequality in the distribution of the remedies required.

Moreover, as democratic socialists concerned with the well-being of all people, we recognize that disparities in vaccine accessibility -- most notably present along racial, ethnic, economic, and geographic lines in the US -- are also present on an international scale. COVID-19 vaccine and raw material hoarding by wealthy nations such as the United States as well as the unwillingness of greed-blinded pharmaceutical companies – many of whose research was funded by the public – to waive vaccine intellectual property rights and share vaccine blueprints with the Global South is fueling a biological genocide in countries such as India, where – as of May 1st 2021 – less than 2% of the population had been fully vaccinated and over 400,000 new daily cases were confirmed. Israel, which has vaccinated over 60% of its population, has commanded its own vaccine apartheid by refusing to supply vaccines to most Palestinians in the occupied territories, despite its obligation under international law to do so as an occupying force. 

Not only is it the moral imperative of wealthy nations to ensure that every other nation has timely access to ample COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostic technologies, and therapeutics, but ensuring equitable vaccine access globally tangibly benefits us all as well. The longer COVID-19 is allowed to spread, the more likely it is that a vaccine-resistant strain will emerge which will set us all -- as a global community -- back. And the longer the virus remains with us, the more damage the global economy will endure. We must stand up against vaccine apartheid at home and abroad 

East Bay DSA will:

  • Respond to the political, economic, and public health crisis of COVID-19 in campaign messaging
  • Amplify and join workers' workplace struggles against unsafe and exploitative working conditions
  • Oppose austerity measures
  • Agitate around social programs such as Medicare for All, expanding unemployment benefits, and an eviction moratorium
  • Advocate a massive redistribution of wealth including taxing the rich and expanding and sustaining economic relief
  • Demand free distribution of vaccines, PPE, and treatments, including for long-term impacts of COVID-19 infection
  • Apply an internationalist analysis to discussions of vaccine equity
  • Demand that the U.S. government expeditiously bring World Trade Organization member states to a consensus regarding the activation of the TRIPS Waiver of vaccine intellectual property rights as well as COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics
  • Pressure the Biden Administration to immediately invoke the Defense Production Act in order to share vaccine technology, diagnostics, and therapeutics, and to increase the capacity to supply the global South
  • Pressure the State Department to demand that Israel provide equitable and timely access to COVID-19 vaccines to the residents of the occupied territories
  • Demand that pharmaceutical companies, whose research is oftentimes funded entirely or in large part by the US public, permit and facilitate the production of cheap accessible alternatives to their life-saving drugs and vaccines, including that for COVID-19, with the rest of the world and within the United States
  • Demand that the United States share the raw materials necessary to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines Demand that the United States lift international sanctions that prevent the people of foreign nations from accessing life-saving pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and other basic necessities
  • Actively seek to form coalitions with people and organizations that champion global public health equity
  • Work to dismantle profit-driven corporate protectionist barriers, such as intellectual property rights on life-saving drugs, that undermine global public health and welfare
  • Link the current COVID-19 crisis to the broader system of capitalism and the responses outlined above as part of a broader struggle for socialism in our campaigns and messaging”

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. It 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. This is a crucial counter to Uber/Lyft private transportation companies, who heavily exploit their workers: 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. Getting people out of their car and onto public transit is key to preventing further global warming. These emissions are also toxic, leading 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 and at the same time we're receiving historic federal funding and growing public support for better transit service, and fare-free transit. 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. It's time for socialists to put low-carbon public transit at the heart of the multi-racial, working-class movement for a Green New Deal.

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, and not years in the future;
  • Pursue making AC Transit fare-free and drastically expand service to accommodate the up to 70% increase in ridership, potentially through a ballot measure which taxes the wealthy and/or corporations. Fare free transit would also weaken a racist system of policing and ticketing;
  • Educate the public on AC Transit’s Zero Emission Bus Program, and pressure agencies to increase funding, while ensuring the labor rights of the mechanics and service people who work on the electrified buses;
  • 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;
  • Create media which provides much needed coverage of what is happening in East Bay’s Public Transit systems, as well as spreading our policy goals - this includes a website, monthly bulletin, and social media.
  • Integrates its transit work into the multi-racial working class fight for the Green New Deal

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.
  • Create coalitions with membership based majority BIPOC organizations fighting against the carceral system and police brutality.
  • Reject any expansion to police budgets or scope of police enforcement while demanding the highest possible budget cuts annually towards zero. 
  • Fight to repeal local ordinances criminalizing poverty and the occupation of public spaces—particularly for people experiencing homelessness
  • Organize to decriminalize sexwork
  • Decriminalize immigration and abolish ICE.
  • Organize to transition functions such as traffic enforcement and mental health away from police departments into well-paid, public-sector union jobs. 
  • Fight to disarm and demilitarize the police, including the prohibition of less than lethal weapons.
  • Reject laws criminalizing protests, free association, and organizing on the inside and out. 
  • Organize to ensure universal voting rights for those currently in prison or parole. 
  • Demand investment in public education, universal childcare, housing, healthcare and support for all family structures beyond punitive models of care and discipline

Workplace Organizing 

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:

  • Encourage members to take jobs with the purpose of workplace organizing through the jobs program, and utilize the labor census to help them organize where they already are
  • 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 rank-and-file activists engaged in workplace and union organizing, such as through trainings and solidarity work
  • Develop meaningful relationships with progressive democratic local labor organizations that empower their rank-and-file members to self-organize

Building East Bay DSA

Empowering and Building YDSA

Young people are integral to the development of a mass multiracial working-class movement. YDSA organizers are the DSA organizers of the future; as such, fostering YDSA’s growth will benefit DSA at large both in the present and the future. YDSA is also more diverse than DSA as a whole, and expanding to more high schools and community colleges can allow YDSA to become even more reflective of the diversity of the working class.

In the past year, YDSA in the East Bay has grown from two to seven chapters, making us one of the most active regions in the country. It is crucial that we maintain our success, and because student bodies inherently have high turnover, sustained support is necessary to retain and build upon this strength.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Reaffirm the role of our existing YDSA Coordinator
  • The purpose of the YDSA coordinator is to grow and strengthen YDSA chapters and develop leaders within chapters
  • In addition to working with existing chapters, the coordinator should actively recruit students into DSA and work with them to develop chapters at their institutions
  • The coordinator should prioritize non-white, non-cis-male, high school, and community college students
  • The role will be limited to one specific person, but the coordinator may themselves choose to deputize further members in an unofficial capacity
  • Establish a system of mentorship for YDSA members
  • The existing coordinator will work with current YDSA members to prepare them to take on the role in the future
  • Future coordinators should, whenever possible, be former YDSA members
  • Educational materials should be prepared for leadership development
  • Ensure that YDSA chapters are provided with resources such as financial support and materials
  • The coordinator will work with the Steering Committee to connect YDSAs with these resources

Focus on Onboarding and Providing Tools for Membership Empowerment 

Since 2016, East Bay DSA has grown into one of the largest DSA chapters in the country. However, East Bay DSA’s activation rate is below 50% and increasing our activation rate to above 50% would help us make the most of our existing membership.

New members have already shared similar feedback across the board of difficulty navigating East Bay DSA’s structures and acclimating to the frequently brand-new experience of being in a democratic, mass-oriented, member-led, working-class political organization. Likewise, established members who have potential to grow into new leadership for the chapter often encounter inconsistent mentorship and resources for leadership development, encouraging a culture of either “sink or swim” growth, or disengagement all together. 

Previous intentional investments of resources and attention have paid off immensely, including the Mobilizer Program (which has now spread to the state and national levels), New Member Handbook, Intro to DSA events, and Organizer’s Toolbox Trainings. As we enter a new phase for socialist organizing, we must commit to onboarding, retaining, and training a new generation of socialists that can win campaigns on the local and national level.

East Bay DSA will:

  • Make development of its onboarding program and new leadership development a priority for the chapter in 2021-22
  • Ensure that onboarding and ongoing development of groups underrepresented in DSA, especially BIPOC and undocumented people receives special focus and attention, including but not limited to: Translating new materials, developing best practices for storing demographic information in line with protocols developed by the Growth and Development Committee, and organizing BIPOC-only onboarding events and socials.
  • Draft a plan for new member onboarding through the Member Engagement Committee that includes developing introductory materials that continue where the New Member Handbook leaves off and developing a more robust onboarding program using a cohort system (similar to the one used by the Sunrise Movement), and a strong mentorship program similar to the "Rose Buddies" system used in Chicago.
  • Draft a similar plan for ongoing member development that includes an expansion of existing leadership resource material, as well as more formal mentorship, onboarding and training structure for new or potential leaders that is more widely accessible.
  • Collaborate with Political Education and RSC to create a regular and robust Socialism 101 program highlighting but not limited to the history of racial capitalism in the United States, socialist feminism, internationalism, and anti-colonial socialist traditions for new members. 
  • Solicit feedback on these plans from currently elected committee co-chairs on specific member onboarding priorities of their committees and submit the plan to the Steering Committee for approval
  • Develop best practices and training for leaders to create clear engagement, recruitment, and onboarding paths for members as well as how to identify and train diverse leaders and spokespeople for all of our campaigns. 
  • Allocate a budget line item to this working group, post copy provided by the working group to chapter social media and the newsletter to encourage participation, and conduct a presentation for the chapter membership at a general meeting
  • Get at least 50% of our membership to attend an event in the upcoming year.”

Recruitment and Growth of East Bay DSA

Since the resurgence of DSA post-2016, our growth has been driven by self-selection and through limited social networks. As a result, the chapter remains a class-focused, but not class-rooted organization that is overwhelmingly white. Working class power is crucial to winning a socialist future. A mass, multi-racial organization of workers is an important tool to debate and strategize together to overthrow racist capitalism. To become rooted in the working class requires us to be strategic and organize for our growth. Socialist groups throughout US history have used recruitment to grow their numbers and build bonds within the working class. DSA should not assume that single-issue and single-constituency based organizations are the only political home for working class people; we should reject gatekeeping by NGOs in particular, as we seek to incorporate newly radicalized people into the Left. A socialist organization can provide a political outlook and big-picture context that others cannot, therefore recruitment should not be viewed as redundant or inappropriate. Therefore, in order to transform itself and build the power of the East Bay’s working class, East Bay DSA will:

East Bay DSA will:

  • Establish roles within the chapter solely dedicated to recruitment and retention of new members with input from the general membership, 
  • Nurture existing social spaces and create new ones based on constituency, as landing pads for new members (i.e. Black, Indigenous and other people of color, parents, workers in a particular industry, residents of a neighborhood, etc.)
  • Initiate recruitment drives targeting natural leaders identified in our orbit and contact lists (Bernie supporters, YDSA chapters, union members, etc.)
  • Integrate recruitment as a goal within existing chapter campaigns and participation in mass movements, especially those that work alongside working class people of color.
  • Expand our geographic reach to a wider range of working class areas in the East Bay.
  • Develop our Spanish-language organizing capacity and communications, and work with committees to integrate Spanish and language justice principles into their trainings, events, and campaigns.