UNITE HERE Local 11 has been a leader in the fight for immigrant rights, and to elect leaders who will represent working families’ interests. Notably, in 2020, Local 11 ran the largest single canvass in Arizona, winning the state for the pro-labor presidential and senate candidates.
In December 2020 Local 11 sent more than 300 leaders to Georgia to join a coalition to campaign for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, winning two senate seats for the Democrats and ensuring that President Biden will have a majority in the Senate to enact policies to support working families.
This past June, 200 members of UNITE HERE Local 11 and allies took a week-long Freedom Ride for Voting Rights from Phoenix to Washington, DC, to tell Congress to pass the For The People Act. Here are their stories.
On August 2, days before the 56th anniversary of the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, UNITE HERE joined the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival national rally and march to combat voter suppression laws. More than 85 UNITE HERE members joined hundreds of allies in a march from Union Plaza to the U.S. Capitol where they participated in a nonviolent act of civil disobedience. Just as the 1960s Freedom Rides escalated to nonviolent direct action, UNITE HERE built upon the June 2021 Freedom Ride for Voting Rights by returning to Washington, D.C.
Since the 2020 elections, hundreds of anti-voter bills have been introduced in states across the country. Hospitality workers are fighting back to demand that Congress stand up for democracy and end the filibuster, pass all provisions of the For the People Act, fully restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965, raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, and offer permanent protections, dignity, and respect for all 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“Poor people and workers have always had to fight for our rights on and off the job,” said D. Taylor, UNITE HERE International Union President. “This is about working people fighting to defend true democracy where all voices are heard. We are standing on the shoulders of civil rights and labor leaders who sacrificed their lives so we could be here today.”
From the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to this summer’s mobilizations, the civil rights and labor movements have been linked historically in our collective struggle for better pay and equal rights for people of color. Union jobs are crucial to move working people out of poverty and have our communities thrive, not just survive.
Despite facing over 98% layoff rates at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNITE HERE members knocked on 3 million doors in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Then, laid-off hospitality workers joined the team that turned Georgia blue to help deliver come-from-behind wins and Take Back the Senate in the January 2021 Georgia Senate runoff.
“The right to vote is directly rooted in our fight for racial justice. As a Black woman and union member I know the struggle to demand dignity and respect for myself and my community, said Tembi Hove, Banquet Server at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta and canvasser during the Georgia Senate runoff elections. “Despite being laid off during COVID-19, I canvassed to get out the vote. I won’t allow my rights to get stripped away. This is our moment to unite against unjust laws that are putting a direct threat on our lives and livelihoods.”
UNITE HERE is taking action with the Poor People’s Campaign because workers will be treated as disposable unless we have real power. Housekeepers, cooks, dishwashers, and food service workers from across the country are fighting back because we are the working people, women, people of color, and immigrants who will be most impacted by voter suppression laws.
Los Angeles, CA: Today, on behalf of UNITE HERE Local 11 members who live and work in Los Angeles City Council District 13, the union has announced its enthusiastic endorsement of long-time leader Hugo Soto-Martinez for Los Angeles City Council.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hugo is a U.C. Irvine graduate who has committed his life to fighting for California families. He is an experienced, compassionate, and effective leader who knows how to get things done for the residents of CD 13.
As a server at the L.A. Grand Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, Hugo led a successful union organizing drive. Since then, Hugo has dedicated the past 15 years to standing up for his colleagues and members: the room attendants, cooks, and bartenders who have built and sustain the vital tourism industry in Los Angeles. Hugo’s organizing victories in the workplace have improved the lives of thousands of Angelenos.
As a member of the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council, Hugo worked to reduce displacement, support the development of affordable housing, and help address our city’s homelessness crisis. As a leader of UNITE HERE Local 11, Hugo has played an instrumental role in efforts to mitigate the effects of illegal short-term rentals on the housing market.
Hugo has worked with leaders of the Democratic Party of California to advance the rights of everyday people across the state. Hugo has organized for immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for our country’s undocumented people and has fought to resist federal policy that tears immigrant families apart. He has also led legislative campaigns to raise wages and protect workers from unsafe conditions.
Hugo has also worked with community groups across Southern California to increase transparency and accountability for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He has been a leader of the movement seeking justice for Andres Guardado, the young man shot five times in the back by the Department in 2020.
On the City Council, Hugo will continue his work and fight to ensure that CD 13 is a vibrant community where everyone—regardless of background or income—can participate in the public decisions that affect their lives. “We need someone to represent this district that represents our values and also has Hugo’s experience bringing people together to make change,” said Liliana Hernandez, a seven-year member of UNITE HERE Local 11. “As a hospitality worker, mom, and resident of District 13, I am excited that Hugo is running to represent me.”