Phoenix: Yesterday, activists with UNITE HERE Local 11 and CASE Action entered the fifth day of their hunger strike to urge elected leaders to pass critical voting rights legislation by gathering outside of Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s office to deliver a message—and a cake.
Four helpers accompanied the group of half a dozen hunger strikers in wheelchairs and red sashes to carry the 200-serving cake iced with the message “Voting Rights Now”–an invitation to Senator Sinema to join in the campaigns to secure voting rights. Along with the cake, the Arizona hunger strikers attempted to deliver their handwritten letters to Senator Sinema expressing concern about her inaction on voting rights. Senator Sinema’s staff did not accept the cake or their letters.
“We came here to tell Senator Sinema that we hope she will deliver voting rights for the people of Arizona,” said Marilyn Wilbur, hunger striker with CASE Action and 18-year US Air Force veteran. “No matter what happens, I will continue to fight for the voting rights we deserve.”
“Voting Rights Now” was also the message on banners held by fellow hunger strikers today who took arrest on the steps of the U.S. Senate while the body began debate on the Freedom to Vote: John Lewis Act.
“What these strikers have done to protect our right to vote is creating a generational impact. We are with you for what comes next as we continue to build our beloved community,” said Dr. Jannah Scott of the African American Christian Clergy Coalition.
“I have faith that my sacrifice of going four days without eating has told Senator Sinema and all of Congress that I will keep doing whatever it takes to be on the right side of the history of this beautiful country,” said Irma Pacheco, a hunger striker in Arizona with CASE Action and UNITE HERE Local 11.
In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of laid off cooks, housekeepers, dishwashers, and bartenders with CASE Action and UNITE HERE Local 11 knocked on a million doors to win Arizona for Biden, and delivered two U.S Senate seats in Georgia.
Last year, the Arizona state legislature passed laws that hurt both workers and voters by purging early permanent voting rolls and other harmful anti-voter changes. Since the 2020 election, state legislatures across the country have introduced hundreds of bills that make it harder for working people and people of color to vote.
CASE Action Fund is an economic justice organization dedicated to improving the lives of Arizona’s working families through policy advocacy and increasing participation in the political process
Our movement has spent years working to elect people who reflect our families and our values. In 2020, UNITE HERE Local 11 members knocked on more than 800,000 voter doors in Arizona. This is the story of the workers from Local 11 who went knocking from door to door in Arizona during a global pandemic tu flip the state blue, and win power and respect for the working class of this nation.
UNITE HERE knocked on doors of 3 million voters to win AZ, NV, and PA for Joe Biden
UNITE HERE organized the largest union door-to-door canvass operation in the U.S.
UNITE HERE, the hospitality workers’ union, organized the country’s largest union-door-to-door canvassing operation. Today, the union announced that those efforts in Nevada, Arizona, and Pennsylvania point to a clear path to victory for Joe Biden.
UNITE HERE has been preparing for the 2020 election since 2016, identifying several counties for targeted door-to-door outreach. Among them were cities now critical to the outcome of the current race: Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada; Phoenix, Arizona; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In those key areas, UNITE HERE canvassers got out on the doors first, starting a ground game as early as July in Nevada and Arizona to turn out voters who did not cast ballots in 2016. In Philadelphia, the operation began October 1 and grew dramatically from 50 to 500 canvassers over five short weeks.
As part of UNITE HERE’s Take Back 2020 campaign, 1,700 canvassers—many of them Black and Latinx union members whose jobs and families were hit hard by COVID-19—knocked on the doors of three million Americans in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Florida to encourage them to vote. These efforts helped drive the unprecedented turnout of this presidential election and will make the critical difference that wins the presidency for Joe Biden.
“I’m incredibly proud of UNITE HERE and our members,” said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor, “It was clear that we needed to take back our country, and even more clear how to do it: through face-to-face conversations and the type of in-person organizing that our union does best. With Take Back 2020, we built a program that made a critical difference in Nevada, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, and we thank the other labor unions, progressive allies, and individual donors that worked with us to accomplish that goal.”
By the Numbers
3 million doors were knocked by UNITE HERE canvassers in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Florida
462,135 infrequent voters pledged to vote for Biden/Harris via a conversation with a UNITE HERE canvasser
120,775 of voters spoken to by a UNITE HERE canvasser had not voted in in 2016 in their current state
Over two-thirds of our conversations were with voters of color
10 million phone numbers were dialed by UNITE HERE phone bankers
Susan Minato, Co-President, UNITE HERE Local 11
“UNITE HERE Local 11 has been running political campaigns in Arizona since 2007. During this pandemic, this cycle has been no exception. We knocked on 800,000 doors, made 2.5 million calls, and talked to 250,000 Arizonans. More important than any demographic changes, it is the face-to-face conversations with voters that has made Arizona turn blue in 2020.”
Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer, UNITE HERE’s Culinary Union:
“The Culinary Union is proud to have mobilized tens of thousands of hospitality workers and voters to elect representatives who will fight for our families. Because of the efforts of the largest political team comprised of 500 UNITE HERE and Culinary Union canvassers on the ground statewide who knocked on 500,000 doors. The unprecedented turnout in Nevada, which was led by those most directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, is a mandate on Donald Trump’s failed leadership. Ever since he assumed the office, Trump has been a daily threat to the livelihoods of workers and our families. We are taking back our country and delivering Nevada for political candidates who will represent working families and fight for our issues. Nevadans need comprehensive COVID-19 relief now, a fair economy that centers workers, racial justice that ensures Black Lives Matter, and a democracy that includes all of us – whether we are Black or white, Native or new immigrant, Latinx or Asian.”
Nicole Hunt, President, UNITE HERE Local 634
“This is what we do as a union—we organize. The members I work with are primarily Black and Brown leaders who need to see a change in this country. They had lost hope in the system so they did not vote last election and they may not have this year either. But we went to them to help them find their voice, to let them know their vote matters. We’re proud of the work we have done, and we are proud to have taken our country back.”
Rosslyn Wuchinich, President, UNITE HERE Local 274
“We believe we made the difference in Pennsylvania by focusing our efforts in the disenfranchised Black and Brown communities where most of our members live. Four years ago, when a hotel owner won the State of Pennsylvania and the White House, we pledged to do whatever was needed to take back our country. And despite a pandemic that has devastated our industries and our communities, we did just that. That is a testament to how our union brings together those from all walks of life to harness our collective power and win for all working people.”
“The key takeaway from this election is that working people were the saviors of democracy – workers did the essential door-to-door canvassing and everyday working voters turned out; with their votes comes a mandate for change to help working and low-wealth people,” said UNITE HERE Secretary-Treasurer and acting Political Campaigns Director Gwen Mills, “We expect the administration to provide economic relief for workers left jobless by COVID-19 and to support workers to join unions. Protecting access to quality health care, implementing structural change for racial equity and immigration reform, and insuring workers are at the center of the economic transition necessary for climate change are the key issues. UNITE HERE is proud to have made a critical difference in this election so that agenda can move forward.”
Election Day will Mark 800,000 door knocks for Arizona’s Largest Political Field Operation
300 canvassers operating out of five offices across greater Phoenix focused on winning Arizona for Biden/Harris, Mark Kelly for Senate, and pro-working-family candidates in state and local races
Phoenix, Arizona: In an Election Day push to get out the vote in Arizona, more than 300 canvassers with UNITE HERE Local 11 will launch their final door-to-door field canvass to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and Mark Kelly. These efforts make the campaign the largest on-the-ground field operation in Arizona for the Biden/Harris presidential ticket and U.S Senate candidate Mark Kelly, as well as races to flip the state legislature in support of pro-worker candidates and to win the state-wide education funding measure Proposition 208.
UNITE HERE Local 11 and CASE Action project that their canvass will have yielded 800,000 door knocks and resulted in 200,000 in-person conversations with voters. They have also made over 2.5 million phone calls and talked to more than 60,000 voters on the phone. Key canvassers and campaign directors will be monitoring nation-wide election results at the campaign headquarters and will be available for in-person interviews.
Local 11 launched its canvass in July with community organizing partner CASE Action and has been knocking on 20,000 doors a day for Biden and Kelly, as well as state and local candidates and issues. UNITE HERE Local 11 was the first organization in the country to develop COVID-19 safety protocols that would enable political canvassers to safely return to the field. Since then, other campaigns across the country have looked to the union’s efforts and begun to use similar safety models.
UNITE HERE affiliates in the key swing states of Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Florida are also running the largest political field operations in their respective states. The union is committed to seeing the election process through and ensuring that every vote is counted.
Over 1,000 UNITE HERE members—Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and Pennsylvania—are making the critical difference in key battleground states, doing the most important job of their lives: Removing Trump from office. Because democracy is essential work. We’re proud of our courageous members weathering tough conditions to lead the largest door-to-door union canvass operation in the country.
Dina Paredes works at the Westin Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles. A native of El Salvador and mother of two US citizen kids, she has lived in this country for more than 20 years and is a recipient of Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Dina went to canvass to Arizona durong the 2020 presidential election to fight for her family and for all working immigrant women struggling to make ends meet.