For immediate release
November 2, 2021
Hospitality Workers’ Union UNITE HERE Knocks on 200,000 Doors in Virginia Election
Union field operation of 200 canvassers says victory in the Commonwealth for Democrats depends on turnout, economic issues.
ARLINGTON, Va.— As voters across Virginia head to the polls this election day, hospitality workers are making a final push on the doors to drive turnout for Democrats.
“Workers have played a crucial role in getting Democrats to where they are today, with victory in reach, by knocking on hundreds of thousands of doors to turn out their neighbors,” said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor. “The reality is, voters are motivated by face-to-face conversations with people who understand the bread-and-butter issues on their minds, from wages to healthcare to housing.”
After the Virginia Primary, UNITE HERE’s 200-person canvass operation:
- Targeted a broad cross-section of largely working-class, heavily POC and immigrant, infrequent and “swing” voters
- Knocked over 200,000 doors by Election Day
- Reached a pace of over 10,000 doors knocked per day
“As Election Day approached, UNITE HERE was knocking on 10,000 doors every single day to have the one-on-one conversations essential in close races,” said UNITE HERE Local 25 Political Director Sam Epps. “If Democrats continue to value the power of organizing and investing in the ground game, we can continue to elect pro-worker candidates that will enact pro-worker policies.”
After COVID-related shutdowns resulted in 98% layoff rates in March 2020, UNITE HERE hospitality workers took to electoral politics, organizing the largest union door-to-door canvassing operation in the country for the presidential election. UNITE HERE was one of the first groups to begin door-to-door canvassing in 2020, a year in which many groups initially abandoned in-person canvassing in the face of the global pandemic.
“As a Union, we know that we need to be willing to do whatever it takes when it comes to improving the livelihoods of workers and families,” said UNITE HERE Local 23 Vice President Bert Bayou. “Through politics we organize voters, but that doesn’t stop after November 2; we will continue to organize voters and workers to ensure that one job is enough not just survive, but also to thrive.”
This effort on the ground in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Florida knocked on the doors of over three million voters, helped drive the unprecedented turnout of the 2020 presidential election and made a critical difference for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Then, UNITE HERE members became an essential part of the coalition of organizations that stood up the largest ground operation in the history of Georgia, and knocked doors to flip the Senate.
“I organized my workplace almost 20 years ago. We did it with hundreds of conversations with our co-workers,” said Heidi Hernandez, a Dale City resident and UNITE HERE Local 23 member. “It has been amazing doing the same with Virginia voters by bringing the most important issues — wages, healthcare, and housing, into focus for them.”
“I am so proud of the work we have done here in Virginia,” said Tsehay Chereto, a Burke resident and member of UNITE HERE Local 25. “I know we’ve impacted tens of thousands of voters through the conversations we’ve had over the last few months. We’re building real change here, and we will keep building it for as long as it takes.”
UNITE HERE is a labor union representing over 300,000 hospitality workers. 98% of its members were laid off at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and as of summer 2021, over 60% remained out of work. In Virginia, UNITE HERE Locals 25 and 23 represent over 3,500 workers in hotels, restaurants, airports, airlines, cafeterias, and parking garages, as well as 8,000 Virginia voters.
Paid for by UNITE HERE Action Fund. Not authorized by a candidate.