Montgomery County working class rallies in support of rent control in legislative push
This past Tuesday, March 28, the Montgomery County Council heard hours of testimony in support of the HOME Act (16-23) – which would limit rent increases to 3% annually. If passed, the HOME Act would be one of the strongest rent control provisions passed in the DMV, and would protect hundreds of thousands of tenants from displacement and rent-extortion.
The base of support for the legislation is broad — reflecting the wide need for protections against landlords and investment companies that are padding their private wealth on working-class rents. High school students testified to the impact that housing instability can have on young people, while seniors shared the difficulties of keeping up with rent increases while on a fixed income. Major unions such as the Montgomery County Educators Association and SEIU 500 shared that public sector workers often can’t afford to live in the communities that they serve. Tenants and home-owning supporters filled the council hearing room to cheer on pro-rent stabilization testimony, while landlords and their allies mostly testified via Zoom. Local chapter member Alex F testified on behalf of Montgomery County DSA, highlighting the impacts of unaffordable housing on our own membership and pointing out the hypocrisies of the sponsors of a rival “anti-gouging” bill. (Opponents of rent control have proposed a separate “Anti-gouging” bill which would allow rent increases of up to 15%)
More than 100 written testimonies, including some from DSA members, can be found on the Montgomery County Council website, as well as in the hearing recording (located on the site). Next, the County Council’s Planning, Housing and Parks Committee plans to take up the bill after the council completes work on the county budget, with a hearing tentatively scheduled for June 15.
Stay tuned to this newsletter for mobilization updates – passing rent control in Montgomery County is a priority campaign of the chapter. The fight over housing is a core site of struggle for the working-class in the DMV. If you are a Maryland resident or supportive of passing strong rent control, consider joining the DSA if you have not done so. The forces of capital can only be successfully repelled by a consistent, dedicated, organized and local political base.
Metro DC DSA, #HandsOffDC coalition marches on Congress
Members of Congress and President Biden already overturned one DC law this year. Now, Republicans in Congress are pushing to overturn more, predictably using their shameful vote to block DC’s revised criminal code as a springboard for further anti-democratic assaults on DC residents. These attacks on DC autonomy are racist, classist and authoritarian, and they undermine the rights of everyone in DC. In response, Metro DC DSA joined the Hands Off DC Coalition with dozens of other organizations, which rallied and marched to Congress ahead of the US House Oversight Committee hearing on March 29. At the hearing, Republicans raised slanderous accusations at DC Councilmembers, using their platform to spew bad-faith, anti-democratic rhetoric and to slander DC.
DC Statehood is a racial justice issue, a gender justice issue and an economic justice issue – until District residents are able to elect lawmakers who represent them without threat of hostile interference, our rights will remain in jeopardy. Metro DC DSA is proud to stand with fellow DC residents to tell Congress: #HandsOffDC.
Late breaking: The White House announced on Thursday that it would veto any push by the Congress to overturn DC’s police reform provisions passed in 2020, which Republicans and their local right-wing allies have their sights on. Note that DC’s Criminal Code revisions were already overturned in the Senate and Congress a few weeks back. President Biden backed out of vetoing this measure even though the White House did previously commit to overturning that veto measure.
Stomp Out Slumlords DMV-wide meeting — Wednesday, April 5 at 6pm
On April 5, Stomp Out Slumlords will host an in-person meeting with tenant leaders and organizers from across DC, Maryland and Virginia. We will talk about how the fight for rent control in Montgomery County intersects with issues all tenants face (even in DC and Virginia!), hear from the organizing committee about the rent strike in Brightwood Park, get an update from the Marbury Plaza rent strikers on the first hearings in the attorney general’s lawsuit and discuss what’s next for new organizing projects. The event will take place at 6pm at MLK Library (901 G St NW, Washington, DC 20001, meeting room 401-E).
To build on these successes and continue fighting alongside tenants to improve their living conditions, Stomp Out Slumlords desperately seeks more Spanish speakers! Our NoVa contingent is organizing in a massive, majority-Latino building in Alexandria and is running out of linguistic capacity, while our DC contingent consistently gets more Spanish leads than we can adequately investigate. If you speak Spanish and you want to learn more about tenant organizing, please email [email protected] about volunteering — you will be trained and ready to go, no matter your experience!
March General Body Meeting ballot results
MDC DSA members in good standing were sent an OpaVote ballot by email last week, with voting on three questions ending at 11:59pm on Saturday, March 25.
Labor Working Group meeting — Tuesday, April 4 at 7pm
Join the Labor Working Group on April 4 at 7pm for updates on labor organizing in the region and what you can do to support the movement! We will talk about Starbucks organizing, the ATU 689 strike, plans for the Teamsters UPS strike in August and more. Agenda, in-person location and hybrid link can be found here.
Prince George’s Branch DSA panel on minimum wage — Saturday, April 1
Prince George’s Branch hosts a discussion of Maryland’s minimum wage program acceleration and other matters at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, 12:30 to 2:30pm (in person).
NoVA Tenant Organizing Meeting — Thursday, April 6 — researchers needed
NoVA Tenant Organizing is gathering research on corporate landlords, tenant rights and evictions in Northern Virginia to better arm our fight against slum conditions, rent increases and landlord mismanagement and corruption. Join our virtual monthly tenant organizing meeting on April 6th at 7pm to hear about the research completed so far, our research goals and ways to get involved. If you are interested in researching housing issues affecting NoVA, please consider attending.
National DSA panel on “Confronting the Threat of the Far Right” — Monday, April 3 at 8pm
What is today’s far right and how can DSA contest it? Despite defeating Trump in 2020, conservative and capitalist forces remain entrenched in American society. The National Political Education Committee is hosting an online panel including our local comrade Bill Fletcher to define and analyze the nature of the right wing in the US and discuss methods to combat it. Sign up here.
Local street-vendors and supporters in DC rally to fight against opposition efforts from Mayor Bowser — Tuesday, April 4 at 11am
On Tuesday, April 4th, the DC Council will take its second and final vote to decriminalize street vending. Black, Latine and indigenous street vendors in DC have fought for years againstpoliceviolence and unfair licensing practices, asserting their power as an essential part of communities across the city. After years of organizing around systemic reforms for street vendors by Vendors United and Beloved Community Incubator, the Street Vendor Advancement Amendment Act of 2023 passed 12-1 through its first reading on March 7th. The bill goes far beyond just decriminalizing vending, taking steps as well to dismantle a regulatory system that has held vendors back with high fees and restrictions for decades.
However, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has begun fighting back, lobbying councilmembers to oppose health code changes and promising licenses to a small group of vendors to disorganize the collective. A working-class formed in support of the legislation is rallying to show the Council that the struggle of street vendors is the struggle of all workers, of all tenants, of all immigrants and native Washingtonians. The new labor movement includes all the workers who have been excluded — and neither the mayor nor the council can divide or defeat us. Join the street-vendor’s alliance on April 4th at the Wilson Building at 11am. Vendors United, which is leading the effort, is also looking for volunteers to help marshal the group through the Wilson Building, coordinate food and check people in as they arrive.
Nurses at GWU preparing unionization effort — call for petition support after worker fired by management
Some 750 nurses at George Washington University Hospital are seeking to organize a union at one of the most notorious anti-union hospital systems in the country, Universal Health Services, Inc., which owns and operates GWUH. Just hours after nurses filed a union election petition on March 15th, UHS suspended and subsequently fired longtime, award-winning nurse Angelo Estrellas for allegedly supporting the organizing campaign. The hospital has since continued their intimidation and harassment campaign, posting anti-union flyers throughout GWUH.
Now is the time to stand with GW nurses. Sign the petition calling for the reinstatement of Angelo Estrallas here, and send a letter to GWU Hospital CEO Kimberly D. Russo ([email protected]) demanding Estrella’s reinstatement and an end to union busting.
Publications schedule: April Updates are scheduled for Fridays, the 7th, 14th and 21st, and the May Day issue of the Washington Socialist accompanies the Update of Friday, April 28. Send articles to thesoc[email protected] and access any current or past Update anytime here.
About MDC DSA: The local chapter’s website is here. There is a rich array of info there for newer comrades who seek a campaign to embrace and for the DSA-curious to see how the campaigns interlock to dismantle capitalism and promote the socialist future. The road map of MDC DSA’s activism — campaigns, working groups, etc. — is here. And here is an introduction to the chapter including our branches covering the DMV.
We learn, and relearn, to apply our thought and action as socialists in new and archived sessions of Socialist Night School.
Weekly Update Tip Line: The Metro DC DSA Tip Line is live. If you have news or events that you think should be promoted in the weekly Update, please submit it to the form above. Include your contact information and all possible details for consideration. Deadline is Thursdays at 4pm for the following Friday publication, but please don’t wait till the last minute.
Don’t wait to update: Medicaid coverage must be renewed soon! If you have Medicaid coverage, you’ll have to renew for the first time in 3+ years to stay eligible! No one lost their Medicaid coverage from March 2020 until now — but a bill from Congress ended pandemic-related protections against the loss of eligibility, starting a few days from now. Over the next 12 months, everyone on Medicaid will have to renew; your notice could come as early as this week. Make sure you renew your coverage when it’s up and have up-to-date contact information to get those notices! The Medicaid program’s legal default is to send mail to the address you had when you applied.
Until we win Medicare for All, we all have to navigate administrative burdens just to stay insured for the health care we need. Find how to update your information and renew your benefits based on your jurisdiction: DC website here; Virginia website here; and Maryland website here.
Community Conversations Around Police & Traffic | Police Out of Transportation Coalition Come join the Police Out of Transportation Coalition on Sunday, April 2 at 2:30pm for a discussion on the impacts of policing and traffic enforcement in DC. As was pointed out during MDC DSA’s own recent brake light clinics, heavy-handed and militarized police responses to minor traffic violations are a driver of state violence in our community, especially against people of color, while doing little to increase public safety. Come out to Starburst Plaza (1501 Maryland Ave NE) to discuss how best to minimize the role of the Metropolitan Police Department in our lives. RSVP here.
Any member or reader with a tip on leftish-oriented material available online without a paywall is invited to contribute. Comrades put it in #publications Slack; readers send to [email protected]
Beyond Fatalism: Renewing Working-Class Politics
Quoting From Consent to Coercion: The Continuing Assault on Labour, Sam Gindin writes: “Working people never stopped fighting as neoliberalism was imposed. Bouts of resistance kept resurfacing, but remained localized and politically narrow. In the absence of structures that could give workers confidence in collective struggles, workers were left with survival tactics that came at great cost and unintentionally reproduced neoliberalism’s individualist ethos.” From Portside.
UAW Reformers Clinch the Presidency
For the first time in decades, the UAW’s dominant Administration Caucus has been defeated: Shawn Fain and a slate of Members United candidates backed by the Unite All Workers for Democracy (UAWD) rank-and-file reform effort were sworn in this past weekend, immediately vowing to take a more aggressive approach to bargaining and scourges like wage tiers. “We’re here to come together to ready ourselves for the war against our one and only true enemy − multibillion-dollar corporations and employers who refuse to give our members their fair share,” Fain said in his first speech as president.
Varmints, soldiers and looming threats: See the ads used to sell the AR-15
The WaPo asks: Why do ordinary people daydream about these combat arms? Here’s how they got folks’ attention: “An examination of the ads used to sell the AR-15, from the 1960s until today, reveals how the gun industry followed social and cultural changes as it sought to broaden the appeal of an unusually polarizing consumer product.”
Workers at Solid State Books unionize The DMV labor movement surges on! Solid State Books workers announced plans to unionize with UFCW Local 400 on Tuesday, March 28, with every eligible worker at the store signing union authorization cards in support of the effort. “We are unionizing because we love our work, our customers, and the broader H street community,” the workers said in a release. “With a collective voice, we know we can make Solid State Books the best workplace it can be.”
The flame of thought, the magnificence of art, the wonder of discovery, and the audacity of invention all belong to revolutionary periods when humanity, tired of its chains, shatters them and stops inebriated to breathe the breeze of a vaster and freer horizon..
- Virgilia D'Andrea
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