For immediate release
September 14, 2022
With stakes higher than ever for the 2022 midterms, the hospitality workers’ union UNITE HERE is bringing “Workers to the Front,” running the largest door-to-door canvassing efforts in three high-profile battleground states.
WASHINGTON—In three of the country’s closest and most high-profile 2022 midterm battleground states—Nevada, Arizona, and Pennsylvania—hospitality workers with UNITE HERE are leading the largest door-to-door canvassing operations in the state. UNITE HERE helped secure those victories for Democrats in 2020 with the largest labor canvassing program nationwide. This year — with crucial support from allies across the labor movement and beyond, UNITE HERE is running its most ambitious field program ever.
With hundreds of canvassers already in the field in Nevada, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, UNITE HERE is working to elect candidates who support working people and to protect democracy itself. Democratic incumbents in these states helped deliver aid to working families hit hardest by the pandemic. Now, their seats are being contested by MAGA Republicans who falsely claim the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent and want to strip away rights for workers, women, and voters. The fate of future elections will be determined by who wins these seats, given the power of people holding these seats to oversee future elections.
UNITE HERE’s political program is part of a decades-long cycle of investment in building organizing infrastructure year-round, not just during election season. UNITE HERE members train as organizers and bring those skills into their neighborhoods, mostly Black and Brown and immigrant communities, during election season. After elections end, canvassers continue building power for working people by union organizing in the hospitality industry.
Gwen Mills, UNITE HERE International Secretary-Treasurer: “UNITE HERE is mounting its biggest program ever in 2022 because the consequences of losing the ground we’ve gained – for our union and for the fate of democracy itself – are too high. UNITE HERE canvassers connect with people often not reached by traditional political campaigns by communicating shared experiences and struggles, and these connections with voters are making the critical difference in state races with razor-thin margins.”
Conventional wisdom says the President’s party loses the midterms—but UNITE HERE’s political program recognizes that we are living in an unconventional time. The last midterms saw the largest turnout surge in history, driven by Democratic voters. In 2018, 25 million Democrats showed up who had not voted in midterms previously, a 13-point advantage over Republicans, and nearly double typical midterm turnout. Combined with the 81 million who voted for Biden in 2020, there are over 90 million people who have voted for Democrats since 2016, an unprecedented potential force to upend the conventional wisdom.
“There’s a path to victory, because we now have the largest pool of recent supporters ever heading into a midterm,” said Secretary-Treasurer Mills.
In 2020, after COVID-19 created one of the biggest crises in the Union’s history, UNITE HERE decided that canvassing was essential work and led the way into the field to defeat Trump in Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania. 1,700 hospitality workers knocked on over three million doors to win the presidency. UNITE HERE identified 440,000 infrequent voters in 2020 who supported Joe Biden. In Nevada, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, 1,250,000 of those supporters had not voted in 2016. In two of those battlegrounds, that number of infrequent voters who skipped the previous election exceeded Biden’ margin of victory: over 42,000 in Nevada (where Biden won by less than 34,000) and over 48,000 in Arizona (where Biden won by less 11,000).
Then, the Union joined Stacey Abrams and others in Georgia, building on years of their hard work to take back the Senate. The UNITE HERE team in Georgia started 500 strong and grew to 1,100. Every UNITE HERE affiliate pitched in, hitting 1.6 million doors, and helping the broader coalition reach 10 million knocks before the runoffs—and change the course of history. In 2022, the Union plans to run its largest-ever field program, reaching more voters than ever before.
Under the banner, “Workers to the Front,” UNITE HERE’s 2022 midterm canvassing program is centered on the workers who lead its success—the people in the trenches talking to voters every day until November about the issues they care about most. This is amid a moment where workers across industries, particularly the hospitality industry, are more fed up than ever and are organizing for better conditions at their workplaces.
***Quotes from the field***
Ted Pappageorge, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union:
“Our Democracy is under threat and Nevada is key,” said Ted Pappageorge, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union. “The Republicans are election deniers: Senate candidate Adam Laxalt (Trump’s legal counsel on the Big Lie), Secretary of State candidate Jim Marchant (election conspiracy theorist), and Gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo is running because he thinks Culinary Union has too much power in Nevada. The stakes in Nevada are high. There is an urgent housing crisis. Rent is up 30% in Las Vegas and 22% in Reno. Neighborhood Stability is the solution and we are fighting for candidates who have delivered for workers. Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak signed the Right to Return law and a first in-the-nation COVID safety law that brought hospitality workers back to work and protected our health. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, and Representatives Dina Titus, Steven Horsford, and Susie Lee delivered 100% funded COBRA for laid off workers and the Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan, and Democrats delivered $30 a month insulin for seniors on Medicare in the Inflation Reduction Act that is now law. To win in the Midterms, the Culinary Union is running the largest political program in Nevada. 250 staffers are statewide right now and they have already knocked on 250,000 doors and are on track to knock on over 1 million doors – and talk to more than half of the Black and Latinx voters in Nevada. We will deliver Nevada for political leaders who continue to fight and win for workers and we have a plan to win. We vote. We win!”
Rawanda Rogers, guest room attendant at the Aria in Las Vegas, Culinary Union member for 9 years:
“I decided to take a leave-of-absence and join the canvassing program with my union because voting is how we can make a difference and I want to show my children how we can make change. You can’t have change without being part of making the changes we want to see. I’m a field lead/captain on the canvassing program this cycle and I feel proud that I have an impact by sharing my story every day and being part of something greater than just myself. We have been in the field knocking on doors since March. Voters are concerned about housing instability, rising rent, price gouging by wealthy corporations, and right to abortion.”
Beatriz Topete, Organizing Director for UNITE HERE Local 11:
“We are proud that our members, despite the pandemic, were the first out in the field in 2020 to talk to voters. And when we were done in Arizona, we joined other groups in Georgia to win two more US Senate seats. We knew what was at stake for working families if we did not save our democracy, so we knocked on 800,000 doors with 500 canvassers in Arizona. These same workers continue to hit the streets even now to ensure we preserve the future of our democracy, for ourselves, families, and communities.”
Marilyn Wilbur, Arizona State University employee and lead canvasser/recruiter for Arizona 2022 canvass:
“In the Air Force, protecting our freedom meant putting on my uniform and risking my life. Since 2020, I’ve protected freedom by putting on my mask and talking to voters. Since we won Arizona for Biden, state Republicans passed laws this year purging hundreds of thousands from the mailing list for ballots and shortening time for voters to “cure” their ballots. This is not what democracy looks like. I won’t rest until I know that every vote will count now and in 2024.”
Rosslyn Wuchinich, President of UNITE HERE Philly Local 274 and Campaign Director:
“Most Pennsylvania elections are decided within one or two points. Both parties had record turnout in the 2022 primary, but for the first time this century more Republican voted than Democrats. Without strong turnout from low propensity BIPOC and women voters in Philadelphia, Democrats will lose the state. Our members’ lives and our livelihoods are on the line in this election. In Philadelphia, the poorest big city in America, gun violence plagues our neighborhoods and corporate greed makes daily life unaffordable for working people. Pennsylvania’s Republican candidates want to legislate women’s bodies and decide when we become parents. This midterm election is a battle for the soul of our city and our state.”
Frederick Hollis, Philly Workers to the Front canvasser (former Take Back 2020 canvasser in Philly and Georgia), Laundry Attendant at Sheraton Downtown Philadelphia:
“We’re knocking on thousands of doors in Philly’s Black, Brown and low-income neighborhoods where other campaigns don’t go, where we live and work. We listen at the doors, and we share our stories. We hear the frustration, and we break through the hopelessness. We are trusted messengers for the voters who need it most.”
***Open invitation for press to come “Walk With Us”***
UNITE HERE invites media to join our canvassers in the field for a day. Interested press can reach out to Diana Hussein [email protected] to plan for a date and time in one of three key battleground states—Nevada (Las Vegas, Reno), Arizona (Phoenix), or Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). It’s the best way to hear about what issues voters care about most and get a sense of how things are going before November. Canvassers are also available by Zoom or phone.
Paid for by Workers Vote, 212-265-7000. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.