Boise Democratic Socialists of America
Boise Democratic Socialists of America 2020 elections.
- Co chairs Alex Rinehart and Kiwi Palmer.
- Treasurer Mark Hatfield, Matthew Barbee (unsuccessful)
- Communications Facilitator Ann Snelgrove
- Membership Coordinator Jack Briggs, Elton Kelly (unsuccessful)
Boise Democratic Socialists of America Steering Committee 2020.
Boise Democratic Socialists of America officers 2019.
- Co-Chairs: Rachel Beukelman, Andrew Chumich
- Treasurer: Kody Glass
- Communications Facilitator: Chris Baylis
- Membership Coordinator: Robert Stevahn
DSA Organizing meeting
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
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.”
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.
First official project
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
Invited on Facebook
- Riveraine Song Walters
- Noah Thompson
- Patrick Higgins
- Jordan Stumph
- Maxine Durand
- Denise Delisio
- Amy Winder
- Brad VanRoosendaal
- Jack Gunn
- Brian Ertz
- Alonzo Statham
- Matthew Griffin
Public Facebook group
As of April 1, 2017;
- Ashley Wilson
- Kenny Tate
- Joshua Lew McDermott
- Tiffany Black
- Michael Smith
- Maggie Wright
- Karen Vitale
- Ivanlli Nicolas
- Rachel Malone
- John Barrie
- Lucas McDermott
- Renee L. Orth
- Jessica Colleen McDermott
- James R. Blazor
- Jessi Boyer
- Sherrie Seibert Goff
- Erin McIntyre
- Daniel Owens
- Roxanne Socwell Brown
- Brian Hilverda
- Wendy Meadows
- Ryan Brown
- Juli Christopherson Lynch
- Alex Neiwirth
More names had been added by March 6, 2018.
- Stacie King, Castro Valley High School
- Joy Sams
- Katie Danger Anderson, Idaho State University
- Jackie Ranck, Bakery Specialist at Whole Foods Market
- Sammi Lowman, Personal Support Worker at Consumer Direct Care Network
- Tim Morgan, Merchandiser at Hayden Beverage Company
- Alex Olsen
- Kent Kiser, Middleton High School, Idaho, USA
- Angel Meadows
- April Hoy
- Chris Villalobos, Owner at Self-Employed
- Robert Stevahn, Account Manager at Paylocity
- Pogo Saito, Los Angeles, California
- Drew Otteson, Sales Representative at Senske Services
- David Smith, White Settlement, Texas
- Baylee K. Ellis, University of Idaho
- Mindy Hackler
- Matt Roesch, Coach at Idaho PTECH
- Lucia Gregory
- Enrique Castaneda Carmona, Engineering Consultant at Engineering Firm
Boise DSA Night School
Boise Democratic Socialists of America Public Facebook group, April 2020.
Admins and Moderators
- Elton Kelly Created group on January 6, 2020
- Katelyn Rose Bowen Peterson Real Estate Agent/Salesperson at Silvercreek Realty Group
- Lauren Tomlinson Assistant Art Director at Treefort Music Fest
- Kody Glass University of South Florida
- Patrick Higgins Marketing Specialist at The Monkey Creative
- Jack Briggs Boise Political Lead at Sunrise Movement
- Cameron Thurber
More names were added by June 6 2020.