Annie Shields

Annie Shields

Co-Chair Candidate

I walked my first picket line at seventeen as a striking grocery store worker. After voting with the majority of my comrades in UFCW Local 655 to reject a contract that would have imposed higher health care costs and lower raises, I learned through experience what it meant to build solidarity through shared struggle. I didn’t know I was a socialist then, but the month I spent on the sidewalks in front of a nearly empty parking lot with people whose lives depended on their job, cheering when we got word that the meat cutters union had walked out in support and that the Teamsters had stopped all deliveries, and sharing coffee and donuts donated by other unions planted a seed of radicalization. Why were strangers joining our picket, bringing us food and umbrellas, donating to our strike fund? Because that’s what solidarity is. After 25 days we reached an agreement and went back to work having won our demands.

That victory gave me the courage to take up more workplace fights in the future. In college I worked full time as a server. When Republicans in the Missouri State Legislature introduced a bill to cut the minimum wage for tipped workers, I became an organizer with Jobs With Justice and helped coordinate a successful campaign with my fellow restaurant workers to stop them. After college I got a job at a liberal feminist nonprofit. I had been working there for over a year when I discovered I was being paid an illegally low salary for an employee exempt from overtime pay in the state of California. I spoke to my colleagues and realized I wasn’t alone. Together we organized a plan to negotiate for raises, back pay with interest and additional compensation. We won every demand.

I’ve been reading a lot more political theory since joining DSA. I started hosting monthly political education reading groups in my branch last year and our discussions have enriched my understanding of socialism tremendously. But there is simply nothing more satisfying to me than fighting alongside others for what we deserve and winning it together. That’s why I’m running for co-chair of NYC-DSA: to continue developing our capacity to unite working class New Yorkers in shared struggle.

I am running for co-chair with Justin Charles. If elected, we will work to develop a more nimble and efficient citywide infrastructure, improve our chapter’s communications, strengthen our relationships with one another, ensure ample opportunities for political education and organizing trainings, and make sure all members have access to the information and resources they need to participate fully in the development of our campaigns.

During my first year in DSA I stepped into a number of roles that have given me a unique perspective on the chapter. I am currently the co-chair and Steering Committee representative for the Bronx/Upper Manhattan branch. I was the founding co-chair of the B/UM Electoral Working Group. I was a member of the national press team that secured unprecedented media coverage of DSA around the 2017 Convention and I still serve as a consultant to the national communications team. I was responsible for running the citywide Twitter account before the formation of our social media team. Leading both a branch and a working group, serving on the steering committee, and helping develop both local and national communication strategy have all given me a good sense of how our organization is currently functioning, our strengths and our challenges, and what we can do to improve.

My vision for the chapter is a bottom-up, participatory democratic organization that continues to attract new members and provides them with the infrastructure to share knowledge, create community and organize winning campaigns. In order to help facilitate this as co-chair, these would be my top priorities.

Less Bureaucracy, More Organizing

NYC-DSA is an all-volunteer organization. We must be honest about our capacity. Over the past year the Citywide Leadership Committee and the Steering Committee have passed several worthy proposals aiming to improve our chapter. But in some cases an unintended consequence has been more work falling onto members. Administrative bloat means less time for things like one on ones, follow up and leadership development. I believe we need to get back to the basics of organizing, internally and externally. As co-chair, I will work to take unnecessary work off of our leaders to prevent burnout among the most active members.


When I ask members for their thoughts on the Steering Committee, I frequently hear that they aren't sure what it is or does. Transparency can be a challenge, but there are steps that can be taken. The organizing committee of my branch has opened our monthly meetings to all members who would like to observe. This not only helps members keep us accountable, it also facilitates the development of new leaders by giving everyone the opportunity to see what it is that the B/UM OC actually does. As our de facto treasurer, I make balance sheets with all income and expenses available to our members. These simple acts of transparency have built trust between the leadership and members of our branch. As co-chair of the chapter, I will work to bring the steering committee’s critical work out from behind closed doors.


As co-chair, I will make myself personally available to members to answer questions and address concerns, and connect people to the resources they need to organize. Every member of the chapter will know how to contact me and the rest of the steering committee and can expect a prompt response. I will also be clear about my capacity. As volunteers, most of whom have full-time jobs, we all must be mindful about setting boundaries and preventing burnout. I will encourage people to communicate about their capacity and respect and support everyone’s personal needs.

Improving Our Relationships

Relationships are the foundation of all organizing and I am committed to helping members establish better ones with each other and with their leaders. If elected as co-chairs, Justin Charles and I will hold monthly office hours during which any DSA member can come talk to us about whatever is on their mind. We’d also like to organize monthly citywide potlucks in different branches to help members connect with each other outside of their usual spaces—and off of Facebook!

Media Strategy

The constitution defines the co-chairs as the “chief spokespeople of the organization.” I interpret this as a responsibility to reach New Yorkers with our message in the media on a regular basis. As a journalist, I have the connections and media experience to help generate more press coverage of our organization and campaigns. If elected, I will work with our stellar press team to help get NYC-DSA the publicity it deserves.

I believe that NYC-DSA can become an enduring center of socialist power in New York City by providing our members the foundation for a lifetime of struggle. If elected I’ll work to make our chapter a welcoming political home where people can come together, learn and grow as socialists, create community, and build solidarity with each other as we take up the fights against patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism that will transform our society.

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