The Restaurant Organizing Project (ROP) came together in early April 2020. DSA members who are restaurant workers and others started talking about the potential for organizing something given the fact that millions of workers from the same industry were facing unemployment all together and all at once due to forced closures in response to COVID-19. The initial discussions involved someone on the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission (DSLC) who brought it forward as an official proposal to the body, and it passed. This is how this project became a national DSA initiative.
Our proposal was centered around a project with the following goals:
- Support restaurant workers organizing at the local level
- Build a national network of laid off restaurant workers
- Organize around a vision for the industry post-crisis
We saw a real opportunity for DSA to help provide national infrastructure and resources to a project like this. This campaign is based on local chapters taking up this campaign and organizing workers around industry-specific demands. While national coordination is important for helping provide materials, political education and guidance where needed, we see the potential strength of this campaign coming from activating members themselves to lead this work where they are.
So far this work is being taken up in different ways in the following chapters: Tampa, Las Vegas, North Jersey, Madison, Austin, LA, Charlotte, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Sacramento, Phoenix, Berkshires, Denver, New Orleans, Chattanooga, Oklahoma City, NYC…more to come.
- In Denver, they have organized around a broad and wide coalition demanding the 90-day cancellation of rent, mortgage, and utilities
- In New Orleans they have organized to demand relief funds from the discretionary budget of a large convention center — they are demanding $100 million and have won $1 million so far
- At Florida State University, Starbucks workers are having discussions about safe work demands in the face of COVID-19
- Many other branches are bringing service and food workers together to begin discussions about what kind of campaign and demands make sense based on the conditions in their localities
Nationally, we have two working groups: strategy and outreach. The strategy group produces organizing materials and political education resources; the outreach group follows up with chapters and runs workshops with chapters who request help. We meet to
- Hold bi-weekly national calls for anyone involved in this work to participate in
- 4/07: Organizer Launch: Onboarding members for this campaign (58 attendees)
- 4/18: Project Launch: Organizing Restaurant Workers for Relief and Power (90+ attendees)
- 05/03: Restaurant Organizing: Workshopping Your Campaign (65 attendees)
- 5/19: Resisting Back to Work (51 attendees)
- Organize individualized workshops with any chapter that can get 3-4 people together to do this organizing
- Produce materials for organizing and agitation
We maintain a bi-weekly workshop schedule, Tuesdays at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET. Register below:
- 6/02: Understanding the Unemployment Crisis
- 6/16: Different Forms of Worker of Organizing
- 6/30: Our Vision for the Industry