Boston DSA Ecosocialism Working Group confronts John Kerry to demand COVID relief for the working class

Dec 13, 2020 | Take Back The Grid blog

Becca M., Perri M.

Members of the Boston chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America gathered on the Boston Common and peacefully marched to the home of John Kerry on Saturday 12/12/2020 to demand COVID relief that prioritizes the working class. The action targeted John Kerry in his role as Special Envoy for Climate on the National Security Council in the incoming Biden administration. 

As one of dozens of DSA chapters participating in this national day of action, Boston DSA rallied to demand the necessity for a Green New Deal. The pandemic has spiraled into an economic crisis over the past nine months amidst climate catastrophe. Over 37 million people lost their jobs, and more than four million lost their healthcare. 300,000 people have died from COVID-19 and millions more have been infected. “Beyond the political crisis of electoral legitimacy this fall and the exponentially increasing number of COVID cases, American state and federal officials must also respond to this nation’s disproportionate impact on global greenhouse gas emissions that wreak climate havoc on other parts of the world.” said Becca Miller, a DSA member who spoke at the rally. 

Demonstrators expressed skepticism about the approach that Kerry and the incoming Biden Administration have taken to the climate crisis. “Myself and most members of the DSA ecosocialist group are highly skeptical of Kerry’s role in curbing the climate crisis.” said Paige, a DSA member who preferred not to disclose her last name. “We think his framing of climate change as a ‘national security issue’ is extremely dangerous and will only widen the Pentagon’s wallet and therefore perpetuate the harm our military has on our planet.” Likewise, Amar, a member of Mass Peace Action and another speaker, explained how Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and other private defense industries are deeply embedded within the federal government, harming civilians in other countries.

As part of this national day of action, Boston DSA demanded the following to provide immediate relief for the working class and build a sustainable future: 

Immediate COVID-19 Crisis Relief– People need a December 2020 stimulus, but that alone won’t be enough to keep people healthy and safe. People shouldn’t have to choose between risking their lives for corporate profit and feeding their families. Choosing to go to the hospital shouldn’t be a choice between a death sentence and a debt sentence. We call on the federal government to care for its people by passing a People’s Bailout and sending $2K checks to everyone, every month. A Green Stimulus – We demand a stimulus that includes substantial investments in green public projects that will keep the global temperature rise below 1.5C, prioritize frontline and working class communities, and truly build back better. These projects should include conservation, sustainable farming, coastal restoration, public land maintenance, electrified public transit, care work (ex. public education & healthcare), and the construction of 3 terra-watts of renewable power generation by 2025–all union-made and publicly-owned.A full employment Green Jobs Guarantee – We call on the federal government to deliver the unmet demand of the Civil Rights Movement, Black freedom fighters, and other economic justice advocates for a Federal Jobs Guarantee. The demand for full employment has deep roots in the historic and ongoing struggle for racial and economic justice, and it has the power to meet the interlocking and existential emergencies we face today. By directly employing people in public jobs that help build sustainable and resilient communities (while paying prevailing wages), the government can boost the economy, begin closing the racial wage gap, raise the standard of living for all U.S. workers, and kickstart the decade of the Green New Deal. Passage of the PRO Act – When the Trump administration catastrophically butchered the pandemic response, unionized workers fought back, won public safety demands, and saved countless lives. Unions and worker protections ensure safety for all. We demand that Congress passes the PRO Act, which guarantees the right for workers nationwide to organize.Passage of the Healthcare Emergency Guarantee Act, which would empower the government to leverage the existing efficiency of Medicare’s payment infrastructure to guarantee COVID-19 relief funding goes directly to patient care without changing families’ insurance coverage or touching the Medicare trust fund. 

“Before November, we were told that all that mattered was to get President Trump voted out of office, that we can push Joe Biden left once he was elected.” said Nafis (last name undisclosed), who came from Bangladesh to study in the U.S., in his speech at the rally.  “As the pandemic ravages on, millions are at the brink of homelessness, joblessness and experiencing hunger, while the fossils at Congress linger over their petty squabbles to determine the minimum they can do for the people. We only have each other and so, we are here today, virtually and in person, to start building DSA’s Fight For Our Lives. We demand universal healthcare, a Green New Deal that provides housing for all, union jobs and rapid decarbonization, and is built on international solidarity, not national security.”