For immediate release
November 3, 2020
Union members, many unemployed due to COVID-19, form largest door-to-door canvass operation in battleground states of Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania
NATIONWIDE—Over 1,500 hotel housekeepers, dishwashers, cooks, and casino attendants will have knocked on the doors of two million Americans by Election Day, doing their part to win election for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. In key swing states, UNITE HERE hospitality workers—primarily Black and Latinx workers whose jobs and families have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19—got out on the doors first and stayed out longest to get out the vote for the Democratic nominees. They worked to keep Nevada blue, flip the state in Arizona, and make a critical difference in Florida and Pennsylvania.
The workers are members of UNITE HERE, the hospitality workers’ union, which organized the largest union door-to-door canvassing operation in the U.S. in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, which at its peak put 98% of the union’s members in the country’s hotels, airports, restaurants, and casinos out of work. As part of UNITE HERE’s Take Back 2020, union members have canvassed door-to-door for months in Las Vegas and Washoe County, Nevada; Maricopa County, Arizona; and Central and South Florida. In Philadelphia, the operation began October 1 and grew dramatically from 50 to 500 canvassers over five short weeks.
“I’m incredibly proud of UNITE HERE and our members,” said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor, “Donald Trump led this country into three simultaneous crises: an economic crisis, a public health crisis, and a crisis of systemic racial injustice. It was clear that we needed to take back our country, and even more clear how we should do it: through face-to-face conversations and the type of in-person organizing that our union does best.”
UNITE HERE was among the first groups in the country to begin door-to-door canvassing in 2020, a year in which many groups initially abandoned in-person canvassing—a cornerstone of GOTV electoral work—in the face of the global pandemic. The union developed comprehensive “contactless” door-to-door canvassing protocols to minimize risk, which included mandatory use of PPE, adherence to social distancing guidelines, and specialized safety protocols including contact tracing.
Canvassers will continue doing voter turnout through Election Day, then set their sights on ensuring that every one of those votes is counted.
“The stakes in this election are extremely high,” said Gwen Mills, UNITE HERE Secretary Treasurer and acting Political Director, “This is a fight to help this country survive this pandemic and to begin the hard work of taking on major issues such as economic and health care reform, racial injustice, immigration, and climate change. The American people are ready to take back our country and, to do that, we must ensure that every vote is counted.”
UNITE HERE is a labor union with 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%. UNITE HERE is operating the largest union door-to-door canvassing operation in the United States, including the largest overall door-to-door canvassing operations in Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania.