PHOENIX–UNITE HERE Local 11, CASE Action, and Un-PAC today launched a hunger strike outside the Arizona State Capitol to continue to pressure elected leaders in Washington to pass the Freedom to Vote Act.
On day 1, strikers were joined by State Senator Raquel Teran and Pastor Aubrey Barnwell, among others.
Beatriz Topete, an organizing director with UNITE HERE Local 11, said, “It isn’t time to roll back the clock on voting rights–it’s time to move forward! Just yesterday, 40 of our fellow activists with un-PAC relaunched their hunger strike in Washington DC. And today, strikers in Arizona are joining in because we know that Arizonans believe in the freedom to vote.”
Last year the Arizona state legislature passed laws that hurt both workers and voters. Across the country, 400 bills were introduced to make it harder for people of color to vote. In response, UNITE HERE Local 11 and CASE Action went on a 10-day Freedom Ride from Arizona to Washington D.C to draw attention to the attacks on the freedom to vote across the country.
“The freedom that I have spent my life protecting is under attack,” said Marilyn Wilbur, CASE Action organizer and veteran of the US Air Force. “The Arizona legislature last year passed a law that will purge hundreds of thousands of mail voters from the Permanent Early Voter list, and another that will limit the time voters have to fix a signature on their ballot. Our state is part of a national trend to limit voting rights. That is why I joined the hunger strike for the freedom to vote.”
Ari Berrong-Huber, a UNITE HERE Local 11 member at Sky Harbor airport, also shared why he’s fighting for the freedom to vote. “Last August, I joined hundreds of other union members in a civil disobedience in DC. The freedom to vote is a sacred right. It is the way citizens can fight for better education, access to healthcare, and protections during the pandemic. Now I’m joining the hunger strike to call attention to the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. We can’t let loopholes and obstructionism stand in our way.”
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of laid off cooks, housekeepers, dishwashers, and bartenders knocked on a million doors to win Arizona for Biden, and delivered two U.S Senate seats in Georgia. Now, those same workers are forgoing food to protect our democracy. Hunger strikers plan to join the King family at Arizona Deliver for Voting Rights mobilization and Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Action on Saturday, January 15, 2022.
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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.