Statement by over 100 labor activists in DSA calling on Danny Fetonte to step down

The following statement is made in a personal capacity, and is not an official position of the DSA or any of its constituent groups. Sign on here.

We are workers, union members, staff, and retirees united in support of rank-and-file democracy in the DSA and labor movement. Without assigning blame, we believe that the democratic process in the DSA was compromised by the nondisclosure of Danny Fetonte’s association with police union organizing. The revelation of his work with CLEAT subsequent to convention has caused escalating conflict inside the DSA, and is discrediting the DSA in communities of color that we seek to organize in solidarity with. We call for Brother Fetonte to step down from the National Political Committee in order to allow the organization to move forward. We have no doubt that he is a principled and sincere person, and believe he will do the right thing for the organization.

We feel that individuals’ views of police unions are irrelevant to the question at hand, which turns on respect for informed choice as the basis for democracy. The place for debate about police unions should have been on the convention floor, before the election. However, because a group of DSA labor members have recently released a statement which said in part, “…some of us, like Danny, have organized law enforcement personnel, including police and correctional workers, for which we refuse to apologize,” we feel compelled to set the record straight about what it means to be a socialist in the labor movement.

Let us be clear: the police and police unions in the United States are a tool of white supremacy and capitalist exploitation and oppression. They serve to shield police from accountability. They are a key instrument in enabling racist police terror that we are actively organizing against. It is the duty of socialists in the labor movement to advocate not for police, but for those who are most oppressed by them: people of color facing racist police brutality, prisoners in revolt against prison slavery, workers confronting cops who enforce injunctions and the power of the capitalist class, and the poor. Some may argue for tactical engagement with police unions as part of a strategy for transforming them. But those who want to advance this strategy need to make the case for it, not simply blankly “refuse to apologize” for building police unions.

The present conflict can yet become a teachable moment for DSA, and an opportunity for all of us to examine dynamics of race and class in our own organization and in society. But for this to happen, we must recognize that our democratic process was tainted by a lack of informed debate, and that this has led to a crisis situation that can only be resolved by Brother Fetonte stepping down.

To be clear, we are not calling for Brother Fetonte’s expulsion from the organization, nor are we questioning his work in and service to Austin DSA. But national leadership of a democratic organization carries with it great responsibilities, and a duty to accountability and respect for the membership. The tremendous outcry among the membership makes clear that trust, and faith in democracy undergirded by informed consent has been broken. This must be restored.

We call on Brother Fetonte to do the right thing and step aside from his role on the NPC to allow the organization to move forward.

In solidarity,

[Organization listed for identification purposes only]

Erik Forman, labor activist

Andrew Dobbyn, Rank and File CWA

Mary Clinton, Organizer, CWA

Isham Christie, Organizer, WGA-East, CWA-TNG

Michael Belt, Organizer, UAW

Patrick Shepherd, Organizer, UAW

Jason Hicks, rank-and-file, TWU Local 100

Joel Solow, labor activist

Paul Weiskel, rank-and-file, IBT

David Miller, labor activist

Jonah Furman, member, CWA-TNG 32035, Organizer, AFT

Annie Della Fera, rank-and-file, HUCTW

Ariel Marie Zakarison, labor activist, rank-and-file, PSC-CUNY and DC37 Local 2054

Laura Gabby, rank-and-file, Carpenter’s Union

Annie Shields, rank-and-file, The News Guild of New York Local 31003, CWA

Aaron Ratoff, rank-and-file, 1199SEIU

Joe Demanuelle-Hall, Organizer, TWU Local 100

Nate Franco, rank & file member, DC37 AFSCME

Alex Jallot, rank-and-file, UFT

Justin Charles, rank-and-file, ACT-UAW 7902

Ben B., rank-and-file, AFT

Marvin Gonzalez, labor activist

Ryan Haney, rank-and-file, Teamsters

Zack Pattin, rank-and-file, ILWU

Brendan O’Connor, rank and file, WGA-East

Frank Reynolds, rank-and-file, The News Guild of New York Local 31003, CWA

Zelig Stern, Organizer, CWA

Dana Steer, New York Hotel Trades Council (UNITE HERE Local 6); Actors’ Equity Association (AEA); SAG-AFTRA; AFL-CIO

Sean Collins, SEIU Local 200United

Meg Beyer, labor activist

Jennifer Lenow, rank-and-file and shop steward, GSOC-UAW Local 2110

Ryan Bruckenthal — UFT member, NYC

Adam Cardo, labor activist

Stephen Thompson, Rank and File Member, DC37 AFSCME

Jonathan Koch, UAW 2865

Shannon Ikebe, Trustee, UC Student-Workers Union (UAW 2865)

Dan La Botz, PSC

John Aho, Organizer, SEIU

Alexandra Thebert, East Bay DSA member

Erin Neff, UAW Local 2325 Rank and File

Bradley Philbert, rank-and-file AFT

Natasha Abner, AAUP

Sean Orlowicz, NJEA

James Capozzi, NJEA

Steve W, shop steward, DC 37 Local 372

Dan Husman, rank and file, AFT

Rob Bryan, journalist, Brooklyn DSA member

Robbie Nelson, UAW 2865, rank-and-file

Aimee Inglis, SF DSA, tenants rights organizer

Emily Claffy, member of the Abolition of Police and Prisons Caucus, DSA East Bay

Jamie Kellner, DSA

Chris Wang, Austin DSA, Tech Committee co-chair

Shannon Miller, DSA East Bay

Miles Kampf-Lassin, rank-and-file, News Guild, CWA

Steve Weishampel, Northside Chicago DSA

Sam McCann, Queens DSA

Alexander Kolokotronis, rank-and-file, UNITE-HERE Local 33

Stephen Thompson, Rank and File Member, DC37 AFSCME

Ella Wind, GSOC-UAW 2110

Dan Russell, UPTE-CWA 9119

Yoel Bitran, UNITE HERE Local 23

Ryan Price, Executive Director, Independent Drivers Guild; IAMAW

Michael Paulson, rank-and-file, UAW

John Pearson, SEIU Local 1021 Rank & File

Marsha Niemeijer, NYSNA and Labor Notes Board Member

Niall Reddy, rank-and-file, UAW

Alex Chis, NWU UAW 1981

Claudette Begin, Teamsters 2010 — Retired

Jodie Trzaska, UFT/AFT

Phil Bianco, UFCW Local 876

Lori Freshwater, Labor activist, journalist

Daniel Burton, DC37 AFSCME

Joaquin Chavez. UPTE-CWA 9119

Andrew Porter, Union Organizer, National Nurses United

Gabriel Galloway, IBEW Local 60

Jason Serko, UNITE HERE!

Bryce Phillips, UFCW local 75

Melanie Vasa, Rank and File, PVEA, NJEA, NEA

Jason Schulman, PSC-CUNY/AFT 2334

Jeff Jacobs GWC-UAW Local 2110

Naomi Bick, Afl-CIO/ AFT 1729

Marc Rodrigues, AFSCME Council 979

Donna Cartwright, CWA Local 31003, retired

Peter Brogan, Organizer, NUHW

Wyatt Jones, Brooklyn DSA

Nick Johnson, labor lawyer

Tim Swanger, DSA

Susan Kang, PSC

Puja Datta, labor activist

Julia Carmel Salazar, NWU (UAW Local 1981 member)

Willie Johnson, United Federation of Teachers

Stephen Thompson , Labor activist

Michael Marchman, Organizer, GTFF/AFT3544

Kara Malin, NNOC

Seth Leibson, UAW 2865

Xhoana Ahmeti, B/UM Branch — NYC DSA

Stefanie Reis, Massachusetts Nurses Association

Sara Kallock, American Association of University Professors

Sally Tompkins, DSA

Bianca Cunningham, CWA, DSA

Tyler Curtis, GWC-UAW Local 2110

Sam Nelson member, TNG-CWA Local 32035

Ai Csuka, Milwaukee DSA

Riley Woodward-Pratt, PTE 17 rank and file

Peter Montalbano, Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union (UFCW)

Michael Hirsch, UFT staff (retired); UAW/NWU L. # 1981

Miguel Canales, DSA

Jake Moskowitz, DSA Long Beach

Marlena Fontes, USW 9544 member

Jeremy Cohan, UAW 7902, rank-and-file

Grisha Etkin, UAW

Alexandra Holmstrom-Smith, former UAW 2865 executive board member

Spencer Frei UAW 2865

Michael Grochowski, DSA member

Richard Mellor, Afscme Local 444, retired Facts For Working People Blog

Liliana Gutmann-McKenzie, UAW, Organizer

Santiago Iglesias, DSA Member

Kevin Bates, DSA member

Alyssa De La Rosa, UPTE-CWA 9119

Ben Burgis, Executive Board member, Part-Time Lecturers’ Chapter, Rutgers AAUP_AFT

Eric Wimer, SSEU 371

James Cersonsky, labor activist

Aaron Warner, AGVA

John Kaderbek, Teamsters

Jim Williams Union Activist (retired)

Susan Schacher, AFT 1603

To sign on to the statement, complete the form here. Signatures will be added to the public-facing list above every evening.