Meet A Socialist – January 2023

by Lauren Gamble

Why am I a socialist? Many intersecting avenues led me to become a socialist. I’ve worked in the food industry for seven years. From bakeries to fast casual to full-service restaurants, I’ve done it all. When I realized that I’d get more breaks if I took up smoking cigarettes was a huge wake-up call. I didn’t immediately turn to socialism and read the Communist Manifesto, but I knew there had to be a better system. While I am now a barista/shift lead at a popular local shop, I’ll never forget my time in full-service restaurants.

Though it has gotten slightly better over the years, in my time, health insurance and sick days weren’t a common thing to come by working in Portland restaurants. I even remember some workplaces requiring a doctor’s note to take a sick day while not providing health insurance through the company. If we had universal healthcare, this wouldn’t be an issue. I think tying health insurance to employment is predatory. People often stay at jobs where they are mistreated to keep insurance coverage. In Maine, like other states, at-will employment means you can lose both your job and insurance out of nowhere. Everyone deserves health care unconditionally. We, as workers, have to demand it. 

We’ve seen a huge attack on healthcare with the overturn of Roe V. Wade. For the government to deny the right to choose denies the right to bodily autonomy. Abortion is a healthcare issue and a worker’s issue. I was frustrated by the Democrats’ response to this decision being, “Vote for us!” even at rallies. Just voting will not give people access to safe and legal abortion. I heard a member of ISG echo those frustrations and talk about a socialist and workers-led approach to protecting abortion. 

I’ve met so many awesome people while organizing with ISG. I’ve found that even if people don’t consider themselves socialist when talking with us, they identify with what we stand for and realize they have more in common with socialists than they think. People are tired of being knocked down, tired of not being able to live comfortably despite working hard. We show that they don’t have to accept this system they gain nothing from, when workers come together we can win.