Campaigns Council 2023 Midyear Report

Allison K is Metro DC DSA's elected Campaigns Coordinator. As part of the position, the Campaign Coordinator is responsible for maintaining outreach with Metro DC DSA's formations. Every few months Metro DC DSA's formations report-back on events, operations and mobilizations.

The reports I received for the Campaigns Council last month speak to so many of the reasons I’m proud to be a part of this chapter.  As someone who recently attended the DSA National Convention, I know that many other chapters are sorely lacking for the people power we have here. We are unbelievably fortunate to have so many talented organizers across our campaigns. I hope the following updates inspire a similar sense of pride, and encourage you to join in the work embarked by socialists in the Metro DC area.

Priority Campaign reports

Every year at Metro DC DSA’s local convention, the chapter votes to designate working groups and operations as priority campaigns. Our priority campaigns receive additional funding and infrastructural support from the chapter. Here’s what those campaigns have been up to so far this year.

Defund MPD continues to steel the resolve of communities against the carceral state

Defund MPD has primarily focused on outreach and education for the first half of 2023. The working group held two Brake Light Clinics in Northern Virginia and Northeast DC — which replace brake-lights in the community for free while also tethering that to the political objective of reducing carceral responses of the state. in Northeast DC and Northern Virginia. The working group also distributed literature into Little Libraries, and installed via wheatpaste a series of public safety posters throughout the city. In collaboration with HIPS DC, the working group hosted a Socialist Night School session titled Seize the Means of Consumption: A Harm Reductionist Fight for Drug Decriminalization. This May, they also hosted another one of their signature Defund & Refunk the District events – a political education workshop on the DC budget outside the Eastern Market metro stop.

In their report to the Campaigns Council, Defund also outlined legislative successes in the budget which was secured in part by chapter-endorsed local Councilmember Janeese Lewis George. The funding successes include:

  • $329 million to rehabilitate 1,500 public housing units over three years.
  • $444 million to create and preserve affordable housing in the District
  • $25 Million for violence interruption sites through DC’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE)
  • Renewed funding for Cure the Streets violence interruption program
  • Increased funding for mobile crisis response
  • Doubled DBH response teams for behavioral health crises and outreach
  • $20 million to raise training wages for all DOES job training programs

CM Lewis-George was also the lone vote against the Council’s Emergency Crime Bill, which will make it easier for judges to sentence adults and juveniles to pretrial detention and increase criminal penalties for violent crime. The working-group has begun to organize opposition to the emergency legislation, which will need to be renewed in a month.

If you’d like to get involved, Defund MPD meets biweekly on Tuesdays. Check out their linktree here for information on their upcoming Brake Light Clinic and Screening of Lowndes County & the Road to Black Power later this month.

The Labor working group continues to aide workers organizing across the region

Our Labor Working Group spent the past several months building up relationships with local unions including: Teamsters Local 639, Unite Here, and UFCW Local 400. The working group also contributed support to the union victory at the InterContinental Hotel at the Wharf.

Labor has several ongoing campaigns. The Union Kitchen boycott campaign is a major priority, and the Labor Working Group has recruited volunteers to leaflet for the boycott, in addition to a rally hosted on July 22nd. LWG had also built up the Strike Ready pledge for UPS Teamsters Strike, and were developing strategy around picketing and coordinating volunteers in the case of a Teamsters strike authorization. Strike Ready preparations extended to Northern Virginia, with similar engagement coordinated with Metro DC DSA’s branches in Montgomery County and PG County, where half of UPS facilities are housed. With the announcement that the tentative contract had been voted up by the rank and file members of UPS, the Labor Working Group will now be pivoting focus to bringing members and comrades engaged through the Strike Ready Campaign to other ongoing campaigns, in addition to using the tools and tactics developed and lessons learned to increase the impact of their strike support work.

Keep an eye out on Slack and the Weekly Update for information on picket lines to join, and other ways to get involved, and join Sofitel Workers and AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler on Tuesday September 5th at 5 PM for a rally at 806 15th St NW.

Montgomery County successfully implements rent stabilization

I’d like to personally congratulate everyone who worked on this campaign on their win. On July 18th the Montgomery County Council passed the HOME Act, a 6% (3% plus inflation) cap on rent increases. This victory is the culmination of a year’s worth of work by socialists and their allies in Montgomery County.

To achieve this victory, the MoCo Rent Stabilization campaign, in concert with a larger coalition, deployed a dual community outreach and legislative advocacy strategy. DSA led organizing for five renter canvasses, including one asking renters to send letters of support to the county council, and another to turn out tenants to a meeting with Council Member Kate Stewart.

DSA also flyered outside of town hall events, at the Takoma Park Fourth of July parade and at the Labor Film Fest at the AFI Silver. DSA members held a testimony writing workshop and submitted that testimony in support of the Home Act, and they attended council work sessions, hearings, and more with other coalition members—even birddogging a council member at a community event. Phonebanking was also critical, and DSA members called tenants and branch membership to invite them to a Home Act coalition rally, the bill’s introduction hearing, and other events.

WePower DC hones in on a community engagement model

We Power DC has made some promising headway in legislative work, revamped their community engagement model, and continued their political education and research efforts.

In collaboration with members of Zachary Parker’s legislative staff and representatives from other environmental justice organizations, We Power has formed an “energy and environmental justice policy circle.”. The circle is advocating for legislative intervention in “PROJECTpipes” (an effort by Washington Gas to replace the gas pipeline in DC), as well as legislation to ban utility shutoffs. They are also in the process of writing legislation to limit granting permission to build new polluting facilities in overburdened neighborhoods (also called “cumulative impacts legislation”).

We Power has run a variety of political education efforts this year, including a reading group and a Socialist Night School session outlining the comparative advantage of public and private/corporate power provision. They were also involved with the Plutocratic DC walking tour, which in combination with their tabling at community events has expanded recruitment for the campaign.

We Power meets every other Wednesday at 7:30, check out their interest form here to get involved.

Stomp Out Slumlords helps tenants secure a number of victories through its building organizing

The Stomp Out Slumlords campaign has continued their great work of tenant organizing this year, as well as supporting the MoCo Rent Stabilization campaign. SOS also organized a group of tenants to speak at a panel for George Washington University’s YDSA; the WG plans to increase their commitment to political education going forward.

SOS had a major victory at an apartment complex in SE where the tenants have been on rent strike for three years due to their terrible living conditions. Back in 2021, the Office of the Attorney General initiated a lawsuit against the building owner, and issued a consent order demanding repairs be made within a month. In spring of this year, thanks to tenants who turned out for the hearings, the judge ruled that the owner did not satisfy the consent order. The OAG ordered the landlord to forgive 50% of their back rent for a year, reduce rents by 50% moving forward, and reduce to 75% beginning in November if conditions are not improved. The owner has since listed the building for sale, opening up the opportunity to take advantage of the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA).

Two buildings in Columbia Heights are approaching the end of the TOPA process, and SOS will continue to support them in this effort. They are also consulting the Buena Vista co-op about the challenges of owning their building.

In Northern Virginia, SOS has expanded rapidly, including the recruitment of several new organizers, and the creation of a housing research group to research major landlords in Virginia. They are already organizing a new building in Arlington, looking into mass tenant associations and rent strikes at a large building in Alexandria, and conducting tenant organizer training for new NoVa organizers.

SOS holds monthly anti-eviction canvasses, you can find out more on their website.

Working Group and Sections report back political base-building and refine structural operations

Working Groups are formations that exist to organize around an issue or campaign. Working groups that are not labelled a priority still continue operations and can petition the chapter for funding and support where requested. Though many are organized around internal chapter functions, many are still developing around nascent political issues. Sections are formations centered around a marginalized identity, such as race or gender.

Political education continues its specialization in events and reading group formations in support of larger chapter work

the Political Education Working Group has continued their many successful programs, including reading groups (10 this spring, 7 this summer), Socialist Night School (6 sessions on topics ranging from Sex Work Decriminalization, to Public Power, to the Federal Reserve), and two more of their wildly successful walking tours. This work has connected DSA with Coalition Partners such as HIPS and DeCrimPovertyDC, as well as built up relationships within DSA (We Power DC, SocFem, SOS, NoVa Branch, and Publications were all involved in various Political Education programs).

One major change for PoliEd has been the move from online to hybrid for Night Schools, and their Demystifying the Federal Reserve Night School attracted 65 in person attendees and 30 virtual. Walking Tours attracted well over 100 attendees, and Reading Groups likewise garnered hundreds of signups.

Sign ups for Fall 2023 Reading Groups are now open, and can be found here. Check out the website and Weekly Update to stay up to date on Political Education events.

Publications hammers out its new cooperative structure and continues to develop compelling info-distribution systems

The Publications Working Group has undergone a lot of structural changes this year on top of continuing their work with the Weekly Update, Washington Socialist zine, and their newer After the Storm fiction project.

Publications continues to initiate the Weekly Update projection, which has developed a wide and readership at close to 5,000 weekly opens. Washington Socialist experienced a major spike in traffic in July with some recent articles viewed heavily, and spikes of renewed interest in older ones. At 3,637 unique page views, the zine is at its highest traffic rates since the REDBUG electoral resource was launched.

The associated After the Storm anthology also sold out at both Awesome Con and Columbia Heights day, and 92 copies have now been sold in total. The anthology is also available in several bookstores, including Bol Cooperative, Solid State Books, and Odyssey Books in Ithaca, New York. See the Washington Socialist review.

Reproductive justice continues to develop fundraising and educational support for abortion access

As a co-steward of the Reproductive Justice Working Group I’ll try not to be biased, but I’m very proud of our work so far this year. Our major efforts so far have centered on fundraising and mutual aid. We held two fundraisers for the DC Abortion Fund, which helps both people local to the DMV and those coming from other states to access abortion services here and afford their care.

Earlier this year, Repro Justice also saw the culmination of our long-standing plan to put together reproductive health kits to distribute in West Virginia. The kit packing event was very well-attended and we finished packing over 250 kits within an hour. The kits have since been distributed to the Women’s Health Center in West Virginia.

The Reproductive Justice Working Group meets weekly on Wednesdays at 7:00. Find us on Slack at #repro–justice or join our listserv.

Social Housing kicks off its canvassing and outreach campaign across DC

The Social Housing Working Group has done some great work building up their membership this past year. They have attended meetings with the Green New Deal for DC Network, where they planned further work. They also organized a Socialist Night School session on social housing last month, and wheatpasted to promote the event, which was well attended. The working group has begun canvassing and tabling to build popular support for social housing legislation in DC (which you can sign up for here). You can also email with any questions.

Socialist Feminist section continues to develop solidarity between women and feminist allies in the chapter

As a Section, the Socialist Feminist Section has gone through a lot of iterations to find how best to create a space for women and feminist allies in the chapter. This has meant the continuation of political education, such as partnering on Socialist Night School events and leading reading groups. This year they’ve held consistent monthly events in DC, Virginia, and Maryland, creating community across the chapter and helping members, new and old, connect to working groups.

SocFem also co-sponsored a fundraiser with the Reproductive Justice Working Group back in May, and there will be further collaborations between the formations going forward.

Want to learn more about our working group operations and chapter functions? Members with access to the chapter slack can send a note over to @allison_k — or stop on by to the next Socialist Feminist happy hour (I'll be there...).

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