For immediate release
December 11, 2020
African immigrant canvassers to celebrate launch of UNITE HERE Get Out the African Vote Initiative
Largest team dedicated to outreach to African immigrant voters in Georgia aims to knock doors of estimated 40,000 voters for Senate runoff; will be joined at launch in Clarkston by Congressmen Johnson, Gutierrez
MEDIA ADVISORY for Saturday, December 12 at Noon ET
WHO: African immigrant UNITE HERE union members from Atlanta and Washington D.C.; Congressman Hank Johnson; former Congressman Luis Gutierrez; State Representative-Elect and member of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) Zulma Lopez; Clarkston City Councilman Awet Eyasu; AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre; other Clarkston community leaders
WHERE: Clarkston Women’s Club, 3913 Church Street Clarkston, GA
WHEN: Saturday, December 12 at Noon ET; to be followed by short voter canvass
Visuals: African drummers, Canvassers leading multi-language chants, Congressmen and African immigrant canvassers talking to voters at their doors.
A growing population of naturalized U.S. citizens who immigrated from Africa could tip the balance of the close runoff elections for the two Georgia Senate seats. Through their union UNITE HERE’s Get Out the African Vote Initiative (GOTAVI), a team of 25 former African refugees from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cameroon, the Gambia, Liberia, and Nigeria are canvassing door to door in the heavily African communities of Dekalb County outside Atlanta. They aim to encourage support among an estimated 40,000 African immigrants who are naturalized U.S. citizens and voters for Democratic candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
Most GOTAVI canvassers are UNITE HERE members who have been laid off from their jobs in the hospitality industry as a result of COVID-19. Many have previous experience canvassing in swing states during the 2020 presidential election, and form part of a larger group of 500 UNITE HERE canvassers that aims to knock on one million doors in Georgia. They and other working people who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic urgently need a Senate that will pass meaningful relief for their families, including extended enhanced unemployment benefits and health care. Many are in the U.S. as refugees from violence and are working to make our democracy stronger and inclusive through their electoral and union activism.
They will be joined by Clarkston Congressman Hank Johnson, a member of the Judiciary Committee and a longtime champion of refugees and immigration reform; retired Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a nationally known champion of immigration reform; AFL CIO Executive VP Tefere Gebre, himself a former refugee from Ethiopia; and State Representative-elect and member of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) Zulma Lopez.
UNITE HERE Local 23 is a labor union that represents 3,000 hospitality workers at military bases, hotels and the Atlanta Airport in Georgia. Through grassroots organizing they’ve been able to raise wages and gain crucial workplace protections.
UNITE HERE has over 300,000 members working in the North American hospitality industry. Over 75% of its members are still out of work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, down from a peak of 98%. During the 2020 presidential election UNITE HERE ran the largest union door-to-door canvassing operation in the United States.