We’ve got something a little different this week: an interview with Max Bienstock of DSA’s Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee (EWOC), a joint effort between DSA and United Electrical, Radio, & Machine Workers of America (UE).
Happy New Year from the Philly DSA Bulletin Team! Hope you didn’t miss us too much over the holidays. To make it up to you, we’ve got something a little different this week: an interview with Max Bienstock of DSA’s Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee (EWOC), a joint effort between DSA and United Electrical, Radio, & Machine Workers of America (UE). It has been edited for length & clarity.
First, introduce yourself — where are you from and what’s your role in the EWOC?
MB: I’m a proud Philly DSA member and I work with the Philly DSA Labor Commission. I’ve been a part of the EWOC project since the beginning of the pandemic. In Philadelphia, we are, if not the very first, then, one of the first (DSA) chapters to use EWOC to do local workplace organizing, and we've been collaborating with the national leadership to create a system that other chapters can emulate in the future.
For someone who might be new to the chapter or to labor organizing, what is the EWOC, and why take on a project like this right now?
MB: The point of EWOC is to organize our workplaces and build worker power around the crisis of COVID and the nonresponse from the government & from employers. If employers and the government aren’t going to keep us safe, then we need to come together as workers to fight for safe working conditions, hazard pay, PPE, and eventually better wages and a union.
One of the great things about EWOC is, no matter what level of experience you have of doing labor organizing, you can just jump into the project: learning how to do media, data, publicity and communications, how to do digital organizing, how to organize your own coworkers. All of the elements of a modern campaign are being done in EWOC.
What’s been successful? What have we learned from this project?
MB: Everything in our society doesn’t tell workers that they should form solidarity. All the messages are about individualism and about fending for yourself to make your own paycheck. What the pandemic has shown us is that in a crisis the employers are not working on your side. It’s become clear to people, even people who aren’t radicalized as socialists, that solidarity between workers in their workplace is the only way they’re going to get what they need. We’ve had successes in white-collar fields, like at the Field Museum in Chicago, but also in blue-collar fields, like grocery stores and fast food restaurants. We’ve shown that when workers do come together, they can win, and that DSA can help these workers to do that.
If I’m a member of Philly DSA, what can I do today to participate in this work?
MB: What we’re asking from people is, 1) can you help the local project by sharing our intake form (linked below) as widely as you can, helping us gather more leads and get more workers to talk to? or, 2) do you want to get involved and be part of our group, learn to do organizing and help with the organizing we’re starting to do locally?
If Philly DSA and DSA nationally want to reach actual working class people (and I love bragging about how our Labor Commission is so good at this), this is how you do it: organizing more people and building worker power.
Talking with an EWOC organizer is as simple as filling out this form on their website, and the more widely we can share it, the better. Has the pandemic affected your working conditions? Is your workplace unsafe, or is your boss taking unnecessary risks with your health? Do you know someone who could really, really use a union? Fill out the form, and someone from EWOC will get back to you ASAP.
Can you help? Volunteer here!
GM Recap and 2020 T-Shirt Contest Winner
We’re collaborating with the national Green New Deal campaign; we’re working with Liz Fiedler’s office on a Fair Workweek PA bill; we’re standardizing online voting. Marlin Foreman was elected Member Engagement chair (congrats, Marlin!), and, in a come-from-behind victory, Ramones rip “Crabby” won our 2020 t-shirt contest! Thanks to all who came out to the December GM, thanks to all who voted, and thanks to all who donated. We raised over $2,000 with 120 donations.
Are you a union worker affected by the coronavirus crisis? Are you organizing in your shop or workplace to demand higher safety and sanitation standards? PHLDSA’s Labor Commission is convening a series of calls where representatives from unions in the greater Philadelphia area are discussing and coordinating responses. Email Paul Prescod for more information.
Steering Committee Meeting Monday, Jan 11 | 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm | Virtual
Racial Justice Commission Meeting Wednesday, Jan 13 | 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm | Virtual
Member Engagement Committee Meeting Thursday, Jan 14 | 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm | Virtual
Housing Committee Meeting Thursday, Jan 14 | 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm | Virtual
Trivia Night Friday, Jan 15 | 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm | Virtual
OCOS Committee Meeting Saturday, Jan 16 | 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm | Virtual
Green New Deal Commission Meeting Monday, Jan 18 | 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm | Virtual
Marxism Reading Group: What is Capitalism? Wednesday, Jan 20 | 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm | Virtual
Training: Organizing Conversations in 2021 Thursday, Jan 21 | 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm | Virtual
BuxMont DSA Political Education Reading GroupEvery Monday | 7pm - 8:30pm | Virtual
BuxMont DSA January General MeetingTuesday, January 12 | 7pm - 9pm | Virtual
Delco DSA January Reading Group, "The ABCs of Socialism"Thursday, January 14 | 8-9:30 PM | Virtual
BuxMont DSA Socialist SocialFriday, January 15 | 7pm - 8:30pm | Virtual
BuxMont DSA Canvassing TrainingWednesday, January 20 | 7pm - 8:30pm | Virtual
Delco DSA January MeetingWednesday, January 20 | 7-8:30 PM | Virtual
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