Pittsburgh DSA Celebrates Success of Endorsed Candidates Sara Innamorato and Summer Lee

The Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America is thrilled to announce that Sara Innamorato and Summer Lee emerged victorious from the May 15th, 2018 primary elections for their respective State Representative races. Also endorsed by the national DSA, State Rep. candidates Sara Innamorato and Summer Lee have firmly demonstrated that bold left values hold broad appeal for working Pittsburghers.

These wins indicate that a renewed, vibrant left in America is not an aberration, but instead that working people are ready for real change, progressive policies, and a society that works for all of us, not a select few. Pittsburgh voters will require candidates who stand for economic and social justice, who fight against the injustices of our carceral system, who will ensure that we have clean water and air, who believe in fully funding public education and creating a system that provides healthcare for all, and who will fight for universal reforms for working people.

Endorsement by the Pittsburgh DSA includes the completion of a detailed policy questionnaire, a public statement and Q&A with our membership, and member debate and vote. These candidates were specifically endorsed—in near-unanimous votes—because of their shared belief that our current political and economic system is fundamentally unjust. Members of the Pittsburgh DSA have organized canvasses, knocked on over ten thousand doors, and engaged with Pittsburghers in these districts on the issues that mattered to them, from environmental justice to single-payer healthcare and more.

Though Kareem Kandil, also endorsed by the Pittsburgh DSA, was unsuccessful in seeking the Democratic nomination in House District 30, the tightness of this race in a historically Republican district is, in itself, a success for left politics. A significant portion of the voters in these districts have proven their support for the values of the American left.

The successes of Sara Innamorato and Summer Lee build on top of the wins of Pittsburgh DSA-endorsed candidates Mik Pappas, District Judge, and Anita Prizio, Allegheny County Council, in 2017. The Pittsburgh DSA is hopeful to look forward, ensuring that Sara and Summer will be successful in Harrisburg, and to continue building and growing here in Pittsburgh.

Statement on Trump’s Withdrawal from the Iran Deal

President Trump’s decision today to withdraw the U.S. from the JCPOA with Iran is a harrowing development. Moreover, it is a clear violation of the terms of the deal. As democratic socialists, we object to actions that harm the marginalized at home and abroad, and we advocate building collective power through international negotiations toward denuclearization and demilitarization.

Along with détente with Cuba, the JCPOA was one of the few rays of light in an Obama foreign policy that otherwise institutionalized the perpetual war state of the Bush Administration. The deal was a success at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, according to leading nonproliferation experts as well as the U.S.’s and Israel’s own security establishments. It also removed the core justification for another aggressive U.S. war. Given the presence in Trump’s administration of lifelong Iran hawks such as National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, we should not be surprised if Iran’s purported “efforts to get a nuclear weapon” — which the JCPOA was the best tool available for stopping — are used as pretext for future hostile US actions, from more sanctions to all-out bombing or invasion.

Let us not forget, however, that in the summer of 2017 it was Democrats in Congress who paved the way for today’s withdrawal with their foolish Iran sanctions package, which they bundled with Russia sanctions in an attempt to coax President Trump into opposing Putin. Out of hostility towards Iran, Trump happily signed the bill into law. The single Democratic caucus member to vote against it? Independent Bernie Sanders, who cited the need for peaceful reconciliation, not war, with Iran.

As a historic agreement is being realized in Korea, today’s news is a stark and distressing contrast. But we must not lose hope — instead, we must fight back. Here in the U.S., that means uniting to demand that politicians of all parties, in all branches and at all levels of government, commit to a pro-peace, anti-war agenda.

— Pittsburgh DSA Anti-Imperialism Committee

Statement on Air Strikes Against Syria

To look at the situation in Syria and believe that the solution is more bombs is barbarous. Military interventions by the United States have never benefited the civilians of the country violated. There are no “precise” air strikes. When children see tear gas canisters and remnants of shells, they see “Made in the USA.” When refugees try to flee from death and destruction, the doors to America are slammed in their faces.

When the United States struck Syria last year, weapons manufacturers gained nearly $5 billion. Where does this money end up? Not in the pockets of the American people; surely not in aid packages to the people whose lives these weapons destroyed. While these billions each year go to more bombs for us to drop on Syria, cities like Flint, Michigan and Pittsburgh do not even have the basic infrastructure to provide safe drinking water to its citizens.

We condemn these attacks on Syria and on imperial wars worldwide. We demand an end to wars for profit fought by and against the poor. No war but class war!

— Pittsburgh DSA Anti-Imperialism Committee

Statement on Sen. Casey’s Intended Vote for S. 2311

Sen. Bob Casey,

It has come to our attention that you intend to join in on right-wing Sen. Lindsey Graham’s legislation (S. 2311) that would make it illegal for any person to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Those performing or receiving an abortion after that point would face the possible penalty of up to five years in prison, fines, or both.

In supporting this legislation, you are aggressively punishing the poor, the working class, people of color, and all marginalized communities in the state of Pennsylvania. Voting yea on S. 2311 will confirm your continuing failure to represent women’s health rights, as your constituents saw in 2015.

There is no choice where there is no access.  

S. 2311 would effectively criminalize abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In addition to enforcing waiting periods (which are almost never required for other medical procedures), this bill would unnecessarily burden patients and dramatically restrict their access to healthcare.

This legislation would allow women to seek abortion past 20 weeks in only two cases: rape, or incest against a minor. In the case of rape, a woman must receive medical treatment or counseling at least 48 hours prior to her abortion, or she must have reported the rape to law enforcement. In the case of incest, the incident must have been reported to social services or law enforcement.

There are many reasons why an individual does not report their rape to a justice system poorly equipped to handle the crime, such as instances where intimate partner violence is involved. These provisions would create unnecessary barriers and delays for those seeking healthcare after a rape.

These provisions would also further restrict access to abortion for the poor and the vulnerable. Low income people often have to delay their abortion procedures in order to collect funds for the out-of-pocket cost, or because they have difficulty scheduling the procedure due to lack of sick leave or paid time off. This legislation would systematically and intentionally undermine the reproductive rights of working and low-income people.

This is class war.

In the past you have tried, and failed, to overturn Roe v. Wade and to change public opinion on abortion. Do you think your constituents will not notice as you try to achieve the same goal through regulation instead of litigation? We know that abortion regulations disproportionately and systematically rob women of color and those that cannot afford care of the right to choose and actually kill women. We cannot and should not have to jump through hoops to obtain the care we need.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, the national average cost for an abortion in the first trimester is around $500, and as much as $2,000 for the second trimester. Enacted in 1976, the Hyde Amendment officially prohibits federal taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions . Fifty-three percent of abortion patients pay out of pocket for their procedure. It can take a working person months to save up this much money. Because abortion procedures become more complicated and expensive as a pregnancy progresses, each week of delay further increases these costs.

According to research from the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health Project, financial and legal restrictions often push people to the 20 week range, and the most common case for abortions at this stage of pregnancy is that the person simply didn’t know they were pregnant until they were past 13 weeks. Your hypocrisy on this issue is a signal to women, people who can carry pregnancies, the poor, and the working class in your constituency that we are disposable to you.

Criminalizing abortions will not prevent abortions. It will make them more dangerous.

Faced with a lack of access to affordable abortion options, many women have attempted to induce their own abortions through less safe means. Some people seek out more affordable avenues with greater health risks, such as the case with the death of Rosie Jimenez in 1978. The state of Texas, with some of the most restrictive abortion regulations akin to those which you are about to sign on to, has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world.

Efforts to limit access to abortions will not stop abortions from happening—they will simply punish those who cannot afford abortion care by forcing them to flee the state or gamble with procedures that put their lives at risk. In the United States, abortion should be a safe and legal medical procedure that can be accessed without delay from qualified medical professionals.

We demand an expansion of Medicare for all, covering the full spectrum of comprehensive reproductive care from family planning, STI testing, safer sex tools, and completely unrestricted abortion, on demand without barriers. We know that these bills do not prevent abortion—they callously punish the poor, restrict bodily autonomy, and kill pregnant people.

Signed,

The Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America

Statement on Pittsburgh DSA Endorsement of Mik Pappas

Earlier this week, Judge Ron Costa, Sr. circulated to the residents of the 31st Magisterial District a letter about the candidacy of Mik Pappas, an independent progressive candidate for judge who received the Pittsburgh DSA’s endorsement. In this letter, Costa referred to the Democratic Socialists of America as a “splinter group that has called for the elimination of prisons and police as well as drastic changes to our laws” and wrote that a judge’s job is not to “rewrite” or “interpret [laws] to suit themselves.”

We were surprised to see the amount of ink dedicated to the DSA, but we can conclude that it’s a reflection of the energy our chapter has put into supporting Mik Pappas’s campaign. Our members have given hundreds of volunteer hours and knocked on hundreds of doors, and in the process we are building real power by having important conversations with our friends and neighbors about the impact that district judges have in our communities.

Referring to the DSA as a “splinter group” is meant to sound scary, but it’s not accurate. The DSA isn’t a splinter of anything—we are a national political organization over 30,000 members strong, with chapters in every state, representing the vibrancy of the American left. The Pittsburgh DSA has almost 400 members, and we’re growing every day. Because at the heart of our politics is a vision for a fully democratic system, in which decisions about our economy and our society are made democratically to meet public need, not to enrich a select few.

At the DSA’s convention this past August, the largest gathering of American socialists in generations, delegates from around the nation voted to endorse a resolution that read: “While reforming prisons to improve the conditions of those currently incarcerated is a worthwhile goal, we must keep in mind our eventual goal is the abolition of prisons.” What does prison abolition mean? It means that we recognize the inherent injustices in the United States carceral system, and it means that we seek to combat the rising tides of eviction and the criminalization of addiction in our neighborhoods. Prison abolitionists organize around reforms like ending solitary confinement and capital punishment and building different ways of resolving societal conflicts that do not lock people away, especially when relying on a cash bail system that punishes those who can’t pay up, leaving them to languish in prisons for months while they await a trial.

The Pittsburgh DSA endorsed Mik Pappas because we believe he will analyze each case that comes before him on its merits—recognizing that there are disparities inherent in our justice system—rather than rubber stamp eviction notices, or lock up non-violent offenders in an effort to look “tough on crime.” The Pennsylvania Code of Judicial Ethics requires that a judge “uphold and promote the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary,” but it also calls for judges to “[promote] understanding of and confidence in the administration of justice” and to “promote access to justice for all.”

Mik Pappas has said that he will serve as a district judge in order to be a peacekeeper in our communities. The Pittsburgh DSA stands behind its endorsement of Pappas for district judge in the 31st District, and we will continue to organize in Pittsburgh for our vision of a more just society.

In solidarity,

Arielle Cohen and Adam Shuck, Pittsburgh DSA co-chairs

Single-Payer Campaign Statement on Trump ACA Subsidies Order

We, the members of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, believe healthcare is a universal human right, and are committed to the fight for health justice. As socialists we recognize that the interests of the private health insurance industry are in conflict with the needs and rights of the people. The profit motive of the industry leads inevitably to the exploitation of the sick and is a hindrance to the efficient and equitable delivery of quality care for all.

With this in mind we condemn Donald Trump’s “Executive Order Promoting Health Care Choice and Competition Across the United States” along with his decision to stop federal payment toward ACA cost-sharing subsidies.

Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does not eliminate private interests from our health care system, it does provide significant protections. Among other things it prohibits discrimination by insurers against those with pre-existing conditions, provides cost-sharing subsidies for the economically disadvantaged and virtually eliminates “junk insurance” plans by setting “minimum essential coverage” standards. Donald Trump’s executive order undermines these ACA protections.

The executive order opens the door for limited-duration insurance (a type of insurance meant to fill temporary gaps in coverage) and association plans to “compete” in the market with ACA compliant plans. These plans may attract individuals and small businesses with their low premiums, but can effectively bar patients with pre-existing conditions (one-in-four Americans) with prohibitively high costs or even refuse them coverage altogether. Prior to the ACA “junk insurance” plans like these typically had high copays and deductibles and were notorious for denying claims.

If healthier individuals opt for these cheap plans with poor coverage, those who remain in the ACA exchanges will face increasing costs. Insurance companies may decide to leave the exchanges as they are faced with an insurance pool consisting of a higher percentage of sick patients. The future of the ACA exchanges would be jeopardized. It is no secret that this is the exactly the result that Donald Trump and many other republicans are hoping for.

Trump promises relief, but for whom? Insurance companies will be relieved from their responsibility toward patients and free to pursue profit and investor interests, while many of us will face serious barriers to the healthcare we need and could lose access to that care entirely.

In our commitment to fight for health justice, it is imperative that we help defend the health care access of millions of our fellow citizens. To that end, our chapter is reaching out to ACA and Medicaid navigators to help folks with precarious coverage, or no coverage at all, get signed up for the best plans available at an upcoming DSA event.

We fight to defend the healthcare rights that we have, but we recognize that any healthcare system that treats illness as a commodity is bound to fail. As long as there is profit to be made in healthcare, there cannot be health justice. To be able to fight for the health and wellness of all people we must win a truly universal, single-payer healthcare system that guarantees coverage to all people. Presently millions of poor and underpaid workers who currently go without coverage, or never utilize the coverage they have because of prohibitive costs.

A single-payer system will empower the labor force of this country by decoupling health insurance from employment, freeing American workers from having to take or remain at jobs they hate due to fear of losing health benefits, and improving the leverage of organized labor during collective bargaining with employers.

And despite the false accusations of establishment politicians and corporate media, a single-payer system will be significantly more cost effective than our current one, and is the only way to effectively reign in the skyrocketing, market driven costs of healthcare in this country.

Access to quality healthcare is one of the most fundamental rights of all people. Winning a single-payer system is central to our fight for health justice.

Join us as we continue to educate, agitate, and organize to win single-payer healthcare!

In solidarity,

Pittsburgh DSA Single-Payer Campaign

Pittsburgh DSA Statement Regarding Danny Fetonte

 

We, the Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, call for Danny Fetonte to voluntarily step down from the DSA National Political Committee.

Failing that, we urge the rest of the NPC to remove him from office in accordance with the existing procedures.

In solidarity,

The Pittsburgh DSA Steering Committee on behalf of the general membership of the Pittsburgh DSA, as adopted August 14, 2017

March General Meeting

Join Pittsburghers who are at work organizing the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America for our March general meeting.

March 6, 2017
7-9 p.m.
Barco Law Building @ Pitt
3900 Forbes Avenue, Oakland
Room 109

At this meeting, we will:

  • Discuss the DSA and our socialism
  • Share details about the International Women’s Strike on March 8
  • Update on our committee work and local engagement

This will be a special general meeting in that we will also be joined by two candidates running for local political office – Pittsburgh mayoral candidate John Welch and Allegheny County council candidate Anita Prizio – and current DSA members will be voting on potential endorsements. If you are new to the DSA or our meetings, we will at that time be holding a mini orientation session to share more about how to get involved.

    • To help raise funds for our chapter, we’ll be hosting a pay-what-you-can mini potluck at the end of our meeting. If you wish, please bring to share any food that can be eaten without fork and knife!
    • If you are in need of childcare or any other assistance, please message us or email info -at- pghdsa.org.

Statement on Reproductive Justice

Pittsburgh DSA statement on reproductive justice

“Reproductive Justice (is defined) as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” source: SisterSong

We believe reproductive justice exists when all people, in all communities, have the resources and power to make informed and independent decisions about their genders, bodies, sexualities, and families. We recognize that the barriers to safe and healthy reproductive lives are not alone a matter of legal restrictions but are deeply rooted in social, political and economic systems of power. Reproductive justice is a transformative framework, and our vision centers the leadership of the communities most impacted by reproductive oppression to remedy power inequalities and create long-term, systemic change.

The reproductive justice framework recognizes that all individuals are members of families and communities and that our strategies must lift up entire communities in order to support individuals. Intersectional feminism and reproductive justice are central to our ideals as democratic socialists. We are committed to reproductive health and autonomy in all its dimensions, including the economic dimension, which too often restricts the scope of reproductive choice and harms the well-being of individuals and families.

The current political climate has highlighted that vulnerable populations include patients, their families, clinic escorts, healthcare professionals and abortion providers. Specifically, abortion providers and their staff have faced harassment, threats, and violence for many years and have endeavored to make their clinics as safe and comfortable as possible for their employees, volunteers and the people who rely on their services. In particular, Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America recognizes two essential agencies providing reproductive health care in Allegheny County: The Allegheny Reproductive Health Center and Planned Parenthood of Western PA.

We condemn the dubious practices of Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which spread dangerous misinformation, prey on low income families, and target communities of color throughout the region. We believe that comprehensive health care providers, their committed staff, and reproductive rights organizations that center the needs of people in our communities are the foremost authorities on reproductive justice. For this reason, we look to the leadership of these organizations in our efforts to protect and expand abortion rights and other reproductive rights. The occasion of patients’ appointments should never be a staging ground for conflict, and to treat them as such would only place yet another barrier between those in need of safe, affordable, and legal care and the agencies able to provide that care.

As we fight for reproductive justice, we aspire to amplify the voices of our community composed of patients, their families, clinic escorts, healthcare professionals, community organizers and abortion providers. The Pittsburgh DSA affirms a strong commitment to all fighting for reproductive justice.

URGENT ACTION REQUIRED! Bring Martín Home!

UPDATE: Martín was deported this morning. The rally to #BringMartínHome still on, and your support is needed more than ever.

‼️ THIS AFTERNOON! ACTION NEEDED! ‼️ Please CALL and ATTEND and encourage friends and comrades to do the same.

Martín Esquivel-Hernandez has been held in ICE detention since May. His family, friends, and local activists have been working tirelessly to bring him home, and today is the last chance to do so.

Take action today:
– Call ICE Field Office Director Rebecca Adducci at (313) 568-6036 and ask her to do the right thing: Reunite Martín Esquivel-Hernandez with his family here in Pittsburgh.
– Join Pittsburgh DSA and other local groups at this action today from 5-6 PM to show strength, support, and solidarity.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1218692014875089#