[Marxism] DSA?

Jeremy Miller theredmenace at excite.com
Mon Aug 16 18:37:45 MDT 2004

>The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) supporting Kerry should >come as no surprise. From their very inception, the've been out >front about being part of the Democratic party. They're just being >consistent. They claim to have thousands of members,
>but I haven't crossed paths with any of them in several years. I >assume that those who share the views of DSA, but want to be active >have probably joined Committees of Correspondence or Solidarity.

As far as membership our "claim" to have "thousands" of them is accurate, currently about 5,500 all told (down from as many as 10,000 in the 80's). This member doesn't mind speaking candidly about our organization, got a question? All you have to do is ask.

C of C has some really good people in it and I have no interest whatsoever in disparaging them (as you seem to do the DSA) they pioneered the "Socialist Unity Network", as a way for socialist organizations to work closely together on the local level on socialist education etc.., we have a local SUN here in SD that San Diego DSA is a member of as well as in the Bay area. C of C's membership is in the 100's right now, most recent estimate I got from a Solidarity (Solidarity as an organization was formed when a very small group of the old New American Movement opposed the organizations merger with DSOC, when they couldn't convince a majority of their comrades to also oppose and their organization voted in favor of merger - they split, however most members of solidarity today were not even around at this time [nor was I as I'm only 28 btw] and it still doesn't impede our working together today, Solidarity locals are also in local SUN'S) of their membership was aout 250 but they are a "cadre" type organization (as was NAM the organization they came out of the rest of which merged w/DSOC to form DSA) with greater requirements for membership than DSA or CCDS.

DSA's youth section (which I'm a member of BTW :-) - the young democratic socialists ( http://www.ydsusa.org/ ) had a conference in NYC which attracted about 300 participants earlier this year, DSA was very active in events around the Boston Social Forum hosting several panels and events, and yes, we had some members present at the founding of the Progressive Democrats of America of which DSA National Director Frank Llewellyn is listed as a sponser (I see no shame BTW in working with unionists, environmemnmtalists, people of color etc.. and others around the left of the DP, we all seem to have all the answers when it comes to Dem vs. third party politics, but none seem to be as sucessful as we'd like.

DSA has been very active around issues confronting the low-wage economy ( for more info see DSA's Low-wage web page's: http://www.dsausa.org/lowwage/lowwage.html ) we had organized groups all over the country participate in the WAL-MART day of action: http://www.dsausa.org/lowwage/walmart/walmart.html and were very active in supporting the southern california grocery workers strike also our local here in San Diego is very active in the San Diego Maquiladora Workers' Solidarity Network, local members organize bus trips to Tijiuana for union members and progressives etc.. to see what life is like in the Maquiladora's, meet the mexican maquiladora workers and learn about their struggles and to raise $ for the mexican workers organizations, we work closely with CITTAC (Centro de Información para Trabajadoras y Trabajadores, A.C.) in doing this.

Dear friend Paul (I call you "friend" because I assume that's what you are, we are all comrades in the "change the world business") if you are a member of a socialist organization that is running circles around us, maybe you should say what it is and what it does so we can learn from your example? It's one think to put an organization and it's members down... quite another to find ways to work together and actually organize something...

I do not claim that I (or DSA) has all the answers, or that our organization doesn't have any problems (biggest one I see is that we don't have enough people in it!), and I certainly don't claim to be the smartest socialist on this email list (which I just joined BTW and have been reading through some of the recent archives - looks pretty good, very active discussion). I do try to do thing that are constructive to building a socialist organization in the US and to engage constructively with other democratic (small d) socialists. I'd be interested in hearing any thoughts you or anyone else on this list has about DSA.

Peace! :-)

I pasted this article in case anyone's interested:

The U.S. low wage economy is in reality a multinational economy. The owners of maquiladora manufacturing plants in Tijuana are often U.S. corporations and residents of San Diego. A number of maquiladora plants are now closing down, either because of the weak economy or because the owners are looking for even cheaper labor in Asia. San Diego DSA is working with the San Diego maquiladora workers' solidarity network to bring attention to the illegal actions of one such employer.

Workers at one of Tijuana's oldest maquiladora plants, Industria Fronteriza, are organizing to force the company to give them the severance pay required under Mexican labor law. The company has so far refused. Workers from Industria Fronteriza and San Diego labor activists held a demonstration outside the Chula Vista home of the plant's owner on Feb 23. to demand fair treatment.

The following press release was issued by the The Industria Fronteriza Workers' Coalition for Justice. These workers are hoping that solidarity with U.S. activists can result in sufficient pressure on the employers to force them to obey the law.



Contact in San Diego, 
        Enrique Davalos
        San Diego Maquiladora Worker Support Network
        Phone: (619) 216-0095
        E-mail: maquilatijuanasandiego at earthlink.net

Contact in Tijuana: Elena Ortiz
        Industria Fronteriza worker
        (664) 689-3618

Tijuana, Baja California, January 7, 2003. Two months ago, on November 19th, 2002, four "union advisers" came to the factory to inform us that we would be starting a strike. Before we could respond, we were in the street and the strike flags were placed on the factory doors. Nobody knew why we were on the strike; the union did not consult us. Supposedly, the strike was on our, the workers' behalf, however we were in fact on strike to protect our boss's interest. 

As other maquiladoras in Baja California, Industria Fronteriza faced many problems after September 11th. In December 2002, a reduced market combined with an inept administration resulted in the company facing insolvent, huge debts and legal demands from several customers. Industria Fronteriza is in bankruptcy, but the owners, Sofia Modelsky and Eric Segal are denying this, in order to escape their legal obligations. Instead, they have figured out how to steal the workers' severance pay. In order to do this, they need to lie to us, threaten us, and promote division between us. They did not hesitate to steal from us, even though they supposedly follow the values of community and education of Judaism. Industria Fronteriza was a garment shop, a maquiladora that used to produce socks, underwear, and sports wear with a labor force of more than 600 workers, mostly women.

In May 2002, the owners of Industria Fronteriza denied us the yearly bonus that, according to the Mexican labor laws, companies must pay their workers as recognition of their efforts. This bonus is 10% of the annual profits. Industria Fronteriza failed to fulfill this obligation and we protested. The owners answered us with some excuses and promises (that were not kept). Then they fired the workers who had headed the protest. These workers have challenged the enterprise in the Mexican labor courts. 

Many workers still believed in the Industria Fronteriza owners' promises, but suddenly our loyalty was put to a test. In September 2002, we suddenly "discovered" we had a union when the "union advisers" came to the factory and forced us to sign an "agreement" with the company: you will accept to "rest" for three months without pay and, in exchange, the generous enterprise will give you a week of salary compensation and the promise, a new promise, that you will return to work in January 2003. This is all you will receive after having worked from 10 to 15 years in Industria Fronteriza. 

In other words, we were fired without the severance pay. Having this "agreement", the enterprise was trying to escape paying a severance from five to ten months of salary that we must receive according to the Mexican labor laws. We could not believe our ears. Who were the union leaders? A group of lawyers who had been working for the company for several years. What if we don't accept the agreement? The leaders forced us to accept it, even if it meant kidnapping us inside the factory for hours after our leave time. In a room, they "convinced" us: no bathroom and no food were available until we signed. The manager, Guillermo Trejo, could not hide his happiness when all of us signed the "agreement". That was how the enterprise treated us after having worked for them so long. 

Then we got organized. A group of workers sued Industria Fronteriza, since the "agreement" is a violation of the Mexican labor laws. In addition, we requested from the Labor Department an embargo against Industria Fronteriza. It was evident that the owners were preparing themselves to run away with money, equipment and property from Industria Fronteriza. They were ready to completely abandon us. The Labor Department, however, did everything possible to avoid declaring the embargo.

In November 2002 the factory was still open: about fifty workers, the ones with more seniority and the most faithful according to the company, remained working, but our time finally came. The union leaders, headed by Aarón Pallares and Ramón Castorena returned to the factory to inform us that we were on strike! It was a legal maneuver to lay off the resting workers without having to pay us a severance: you are not fired, you just are on strike. It was also a clever move to disclaim the demands of the previously fired workers. Declaring a strike, the owners built a complex legal labyrinth. If the factory is finally out of the business, who is going to be the first one to receive compensation? Yes, Mexican law says that the workers, but which workers? A malicious division was promoted between the workers previously laid off and the ones who were now on strike. The owners of course control the union. They want to have a long strike, and perhaps after years, when the workers have long abandoned any hope of severance, the owners will still be there, and will "negotiate" with the union to recuperate their property.

So, here we are from one day to the next, after 10, 20 or 30 years working for Industria Fronteriza with no salary, no Christmas bonus (required by the Mexican labor laws), no vacations and no severance pay. Thanks, Sofia Modelsky, Eric Segal and Guillermo Trejo.

Industria Fronteriza had subhuman work conditions. It is an old company where the machine operators, almost all of us women, work amidst noise, hot air, steam, and acids, suffer burns and labor under tyrannical supervisors. The heat, for example is ever present. We sew, weave, dye, wash, iron and pack thousands of garments amidst hot machines and scalding steam, steam that manages to escape from the pipes because of lack of maintenance. We have to iron the clothes with irons that leak steam and that don't have good handles, irons that burn the skin no matter what precautions one takes.

Our bosses in Industria Fronteriza were examples of compassion. The owner Eric Segal screamed to us that "you Mexicans are awkward, stupid, pendejos". When the company was in crisis, he blamed us and forced us to work 10, 12, 14 hours per day, and screamed at us, "I will fire all of you if you don't work 18 hours." His despotic manners included to slamming the door when he was mad. 

Anyway, justice is what we are demanding now. We want to know if the law is still prevalent in Baja California. We want to receive the severance pay that according to the Mexican labor laws the company owes us. We want this payment now, not in 10 years. We want to know what door has to be knocked on to find somebody willing to listen to and help us. We are just asking for the simplest thing: respect of the law. We will continue demanding a solution. 

The Industria Fronteriza Workers' Coalition for Justice. 

Industria Fronteriza:
37th Ave.
Fraccionamiento Urias
La Mesa Tijuana, Baja California

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