Boise Democratic Socialists of America

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Boise Democratic Socialists of America is an Idaho unofficial affiliate of Democratic Socialists of America.

Chapter Officers

Boise Democratic Socialists of America 2020 elections.

Boise Democratic Socialists of America Steering Committee 2020.

Ashley Prince, Kenneth Freeman, Alex Rinehart, Kent Kiser, Millie, Andrew Chumich, Chris Baylis, Sammi Lowman

Facilitator: Andrew Chumich Secretary: Chris Baylis

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Boise Democratic Socialists of America officers 2019.

DSA Organizing meeting

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DSA Boise Organizing Committee Meeting

January 10th, 2017, 7:30 pm

715 S Capitol Blvd, Boise Public Library, Main Branch, Gates Room Boise, ID 83702

Meeting was called to order at 7:35 pm

Members Present: Alex Olsen, Robert Stevahn, Chris Baylis, Ty Staney Kershner, Kenneth Freeman, Andrew Chumich, Kent Kiser, Rachel Beukelman, Sammi Lowman, Dave McKerracher, Miley, Matthew Mattefs.

Pie Hole battle

It was rain­ing light­ly June 29 2020 when Geo Eng­ber­son, own­er of the Pie Hole pizze­ria, con­vened an emer­gency staff meet­ing. He had intend­ed a quick con­fer­ence in the park­ing lot behind the restau­rant, known for its steady stream of week­end bar-goers. Giv­en the weath­er, Eng­ber­son fer­ried the hand­ful of work­ers into his trailer.

Ear­li­er that month, work­ers at the piz­za joint peti­tioned for an hourly wage bump. Wor­ried that Pie Hole was pre­pared to replace them, for­mer employ­ee Kiwi Palmer says, she and her cowork­ers refused to train new hires. This refusal trig­gered a conflict.

In a record­ing of the trail­er meet­ing obtained by In These Times, Eng­ber­son says, ​“Kiwi, yes­ter­day you told [the man­ag­er] you wouldn’t train new hires, any scabs. That still how you feel?”

When Palmer and fel­low work­er Mar­shal Har­ris reaf­firmed they would not train new hires, Eng­ber­son fired them.

In the weeks since, the Pie Hole work­ers have orga­nized a series of pick­ets in front of the restau­rant. Call­ing them­selves the Pie Hole Work­ers Union, they filed a com­plaint with the Nation­al Labor Rela­tions Board alleg­ing the fir­ing was retal­ia­to­ry and vio­lat­ed their right to par­tic­i­pate in ​“con­cert­ed activ­i­ty” with­out reprisal.

Eng­ber­son rejects the claim that Palmer and Har­ris were fired for orga­niz­ing and that the busi­ness planned to replace them. ​“We got busy, and we need­ed to hire more peo­ple,” Eng­ber­son tells In These Times. He adds, ​“I treat my employ­ees like fam­i­ly … and I don’t ever hear from them that they’re dis­grun­tled about their wages.” Eng­ber­son also says that, when he used the word ​“scabs,” he was quot­ing Palmer— not con­firm­ing the new work­ers were, in fact, scabs.

The Pie Hole work­ers have found sup­port from the Boise Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which has aid­ed in pick­ets and con­nect­ed them with DSA’s nation­al Restau­rant Orga­niz­ing Project.

Beyond Boise, mul­ti­ple left-wing labor groups have tak­en on the cause of restau­rant orga­niz­ing. In addi­tion to its Restau­rant Orga­niz­ing Project, DSA has col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Unit­ed Elec­tri­cal, Radio and Machine Work­ers of Amer­i­ca (UE) — a demo­c­ra­t­ic, rank-and-file union — to advise work­ers on union dri­ves and work­place actions. Between the DSA projects and UE’s orga­niz­ing, the Left has tak­en a cen­tral role in pan­dem­ic-era organizing.

“We’ve seen a sig­nif­i­cant uptick in work­ers con­tact­ing us about orga­niz­ing from the restau­rant indus­try, and in the food ser­vice [and] hos­pi­tal­i­ty sec­tor more broad­ly,” UE orga­niz­er Mark Mein­ster says. ​“Work­ers are very con­cerned about the lack of safe­ty pro­tec­tions regard­ing Covid, the lack of paid sick leave and the drop in income many antic­i­pate as a result of serv­ing few­er customers.”

“The fact that [DSA’s Restau­rant Orga­niz­ing Project] is grow­ing is evi­dence [that] A, we’re not crazy, and B, we’re not alone, and C, that there is sol­i­dar­i­ty that is grow­ing rapid­ly,” Har­ris says. ​“Inside of five weeks, I’ve gone from nev­er hav­ing done any of this to attempt­ing to orga­nize oth­er people.”[3]

Red Republicans

On most weekend evenings downtown on Eighth Street is a hotspot of people patronizing restaurants, and the evening of Aug. 8 was no different. Most of the restaurants had full patios and groups of people walked along the newly expanded sidewalk areas. Nearby, though, came dissent against the return to normal.

“This is ridiculous, how many workers will die for a person to eat a meal,” said Pie Hole Workers Union member Marshal Harris. “We are coming out here because the very least we can do is remind people a pandemic is going on. Restaurant workers are suffering and there’s a real moral and ethical question that comes up: What is America doing?”

The Pie Hole Workers Union and the Boise chapter of The Red Republicans of the DSA, have begun something called “dine-in disruptions.” On Saturday evenings from 6-9 p.m., the group demonstrates, pickets and hands out information about labor statistics and workers’ rights to passersby on Eighth Street.

Harris said the Pie Hole Workers Union is more than just a group created in response to their treatment as employees at the Broadway Pie Hole. It has morphed into a group of people who care about workers rights and in regards to COVID-19, he said the longer people keep acting like the pandemic isn’t going on, the longer people will be affected.

There weren’t a lot of people participating in the dine-in disruption, but they hope more will join, said Tyler Whitt, a supporter. He said he saw what happened at the Broadway Pie Hole through social media and came down: “I work in the industry too, COVID isn’t over and I don’t think a worker’s life is worth an appetizer.”

Austin Ray Losinger-Eggiman, from The Red Republicans of the DSA membership coordination committee, said the goal is to raise awareness in such a high traffic area and his organization believes in direct action. He said it’s important for people to realize that if a group of workers are being treated in an unfair way in a society, it’s only a matter of time before that treatment spreads to all workers.

“We want people to know that these workers are human beings with real economic needs,” said Aggiman. “A lot of these people rely on tips and they can’t pay their bills. An injury to one is an injury to all. People don’t need to be restaurant industry workers to come and show support.”

Idaho State Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett said Idaho’s democrats keep trying to raise the wage and they won’t stop trying. Unfortunately for low wage earners, the bills to raise minimum wage rarely make it out of committee.

“It’s something that we’d like to bring forward again,” said Stennett. “At some point people have to admit that this isn’t working anymore. Us democrats have been pushing this topic for years and we encourage Idahoans to call their representatives.”

The wait for a raise in the minimum wage may be a long time coming, but Harris said the most important thing for now is to raise awareness for workers. Their goal is to help educate people who work in the industry so that their labor can be fairly compensated. He said that Boise leadership appears to care more about economics and tourism than the actual community that lives and works here.[4]

First official project

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Boise Democratic Socialists of America shared their event. March 2 at 9:39pm ·

Assisting with Reclaim Idaho's Medicaid Expansion effort is our first official project. Ashley Prince has been organizing the District 18 efforts. Christine Baylis & Robert Stevahn are now organizing the Garden City portion of District 16. Training provided from 10-11 each Saturday, canvassing from 11-3ish. It's fun, it's easy, and it's for a very good cause. Can you help?

Intro to Boise DSA

Intro to Boise DSA Public · Hosted by Boise Democratic Socialists of America.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM MDT

Library At Bown Crossing 2153 E Riverwalk Drive, Boise, Idaho 83706

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Invited on Facebook

Interested

Went

Public Facebook group

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As of April 1, 2017;[6]

Admins

Other Members

More names had been added by March 6, 2018.

Boise DSA Night School

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Boise Democratic Socialists of America Public Facebook group, April 2020.

Admins and Moderators

Members

More names were added by June 6 2020.

References