For immediate release
October 31, 2016
Nevada: Bethany Khan
National: Meghan Cohorst
Immigrant Workers Nationwide Converge To Deliver Battleground States to First Woman President
Las Vegas, NV –The largest political operation in the battleground state of Nevada will double in size today as over 150 UNITE HERE members from across the country join canvassing teams from the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 in Clark and Washoe counties.
The Culinary Union, UNITE HERE’s largest affiliate and the largest political organization in Nevada, has had 150 members working for 10 weeks in Las Vegas and Reno to make sure Democrats win up and down the ballot. Now joining this comprehensive political organizing program are UNITE HERE members from 16 union locals in 11 states: Hawaii, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, San Jose, Portland, Seattle, New Orleans, St Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC, New York and Connecticut.
As part of the final push to deliver the battleground state of Nevada to Hillary Clinton, UNITE HERE members will canvass up to ten hours each day and participate in a comprehensive training program on the importance of this election to protect employer-sponsored health benefits from Republican tax schemes.
UNITE HERE’s political priority this election cycle is to protect the health care benefits of the 156 million Americans (including union members) who get insurance through their jobs. UNITE HERE and the Culinary Union both endorsed Hillary Clinton and promised to deliver Nevada for her campaign. In addition, UNITE HERE has endorsed candidates in twelve key Senate races nationally who have committed to protect worker healthcare from Republican tax schemes.
“Healthcare is a vital issue for our 270,000 members and the hundreds of thousands of family members they support,” said D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE. “Hillary Clinton is committed to working with the new Congress to fix the Affordable Care Act, keeping what works and fixing what doesn’t. The fixes start with putting the word ‘affordable’ back into the ACA by eliminating the 40% health benefits tax and stopping Paul Ryan’s plan to pile taxes onto American health benefits.”
UNITE HERE members are also determined to defend their rights as immigrants. “Our members look forward to coming to Nevada to help other voters—especially this year, when it matters so much,” said María Elena Durazo, UNITE HERE vice president for Immigration, Diversity and Civil Rights and a member of the Democratic National Committee. “It can be hard to leave your family for ten days and land right in the middle of the electoral pressure cooker in Nevada, but we’re proud to do it because we stand against hostile and divisive attacks and believe in working hard for the America we all deserve.”
Nevadans also have the opportunity to elect the first Latina to the U.S. Senate this November. “The time has come to break yet another barrier for Latinos in this country. Catherine Cortez Masto is a hard-working Nevadan who will deliver results in Washington and fight for our loved ones,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Union. “Catherine will continue the legacy and work of Senator Harry Reid that has helped our families in this state.”
The UNITE HERE political program is built on the tenacity and grit of housekeepers, cooks, cocktail waitresses, food servers, bellmen, and porters who take a leave of absence from their regular jobs to talk to voters throughout the state. UNITE HERE members from Nevada and California have knocked on over 210,000 doors in greater Las Vegas and Reno and talked to almost 57,000 union voters and their neighbors in the past two months.
The Culinary Union has over 34,000 members—60% of its membership—registered and ready to vote. This includes newly-naturalized citizens from a national effort that helped over 2,200 new Americans complete their applications in time to vote this year.
The top leadership of UNITE HERE International Union, a largely immigrant hospitality workers organization in the United States and Canada, resolved in May to deliver union strongholds to candidates who will protect workers’ healthcare and rights as immigrants. In addition to direct candidate contributions and significant voter registration and turnout efforts, the union launched a new PAC to target Republicans who plan to tax worker healthcare.
ACTIVITIES IN NEVADA
Leading up to Election Day: Election canvassers, the UNITE HERE President D Taylor and the leader of the Culinary Union, Geoconda Arguello-Kline, will be available for interviews in English and Spanish. To attend any of the events below or to schedule interviews, please contact Bethany Khan at [email protected].
- Monday, October 31, 2016 – Tuesday, November 7, 2016: GOTV
9am-7pm: The political team will be participating in a massive get-out-the-vote effort for early vote. Over 250 workers will canvass daily and are available to ride along with and/or interview before they leave for a day out in the neighborhoods of Las Vegas, Reno and Sparks.
In Las Vegas, the Culinary Union has also worked with the Las Vegas Strip properties to ensure that thousands of workers will be able to participate in early voting during their lunch break at the Strip’s nearby early vote site through an organized daily bus program.
*BLOG: A day-in-the-life of political organizer – Carmela:
*PROFILES: Culinary Union political organizers:
*PHOTOS: Culinary Union members vote early at the Las Vegas Strip site:
- Wednesday, November 8, 2016: Election Night Watch Party
6am: Over 250 workers will canvass daily and are available to ride along with and/or interview before they leave for a day out in the neighborhoods of Las Vegas, Reno and Sparks.
6pm: Hundreds of Culinary Union and UNITE HERE members will gather at the Culinary Union (1630 South Commerce Street Las Vegas, Nevada 89102) to watch the results of Election 2016. Trump Hotel Las Vegas workers and political organizers will be available for interviews.
ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE NEVADA
Phoenix, Arizona: Nearly 100 high school students are volunteering to defeat Donald Trump and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who entered a not guilty plea last week in charges of criminal contempt of court for continuing to racially profile Latinos despite a federal injunction. The teens working with local union members and political group CASE Action are entirely comprised of Latino and East African immigrants and Muslim refugees.
Orlando, Florida: Employees of Walt Disney World on leave from work through Election Day are canvassing to turn out recent Puerto Rican immigrants in the key I-4 corridor able to vote for president for the first time. Orlando union members are also working to elect Jose Alvarez to mayor of neighboring Kissimmee, where a large number of hospitality workers live in poverty, Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate, and Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto and Val Demings to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Over 100 regional volunteers will converge Get Out the Vote canvasses in Philadelphia, where high turnout can and has won the battleground state of Pennsylvania. Leading the volunteers are workers from the recently-shuttered Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, who just ended a more than three-month strike. The strikers are motivating volunteers about the importance of this election with their stories of how Donald Trump contributed to the closure of the Taj and other casinos in Atlantic City.
Seattle, Washington: UNITE HERE Local 8 members are knocking on doors for Initiative 124, a ballot measure to create new protections for employees against sexual harassment and assault by hotel guests. There were 262 incidents of harassment and assault reported by 99 housekeepers at downtown hotels in a recent survey. The Seattle City Council voted 7-1 vote to endorse the initiative, with Mayor Ed Murray concurring, but the initiative is facing strong opposition from the hotel industry.
For information or interviews outside of Nevada, contact Meghan Cohorst at [email protected].
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WHO WE ARE
UNITE HERE is a labor union that represents 270,000 working people across North America. Our members work in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries. Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 in Nevada are together the largest affiliate of UNITE HERE. They represent over 57,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas.
The membership of UNITE HERE is diverse. We are predominantly women and people of color, and we hail from all corners of the planet. In Nevada, the Culinary Union is the state’s largest immigrant organization, with over 57,000 members. Together, we are building a movement to enable people of all backgrounds to achieve greater equality and opportunity.