FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Contact: MJ Leira, 917-565-7697, [email protected]
Union members, many unemployed due to COVID-19, form largest
door-to-door canvass operation in battleground state of Florida.
FLORIDA—Over 300 hotel housekeepers, dishwashers, cooks, and casino attendants knocked on over 450,000 doors statewide closing this Election Day, doing their part to win the election for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. In Florida, 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’ve worked to make the critical difference in Florida where, in 2016, Donald Trump won by only 1% and 500,000 registered democrats did not vote.
UNITE HERE Florida has been on the doors since August and on the phones since June, persuading voters to support Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, as well as state and local candidates. They’ve dialed more than 6,000,000 phone numbers, knocked over 450,000 doors, and had 260,000 conversations with voters. We persuaded more than 85,000 people who had not voted in 2016 to make a plan to vote for Joe Biden this year. Over 44,000 of them had already voted as of Sunday, during Early Vote or Vote by Mail. We spent all day today talking to the rest of them, turning them out on Election Day. These numbers reflect UNITE HERE as the largest canvassing operation in the state of Florida.
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 Walt Disney World, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach and the Diplomat Beach Resort, Florida’s 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 Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Polk counties.
The hospitality industry and its workers define Florida. During these last many months, our members have laid the foundation of their political power, which will only get bigger and stronger moving forward. “Regardless of tonight’s results, nobody should ever underestimate the power of UNITE HERE’s members in Florida. Our members may be in the background at work, but they are organized, focus, trained, and powerful—and they’re paying attention. No doubt, 2020 has been a rough year for our members, and they’ve watched to see who had their backs. I am confident that the results of tonight’s elections will show that if you stand with our members, they’ll stand with you,” said Wendi Walsh, UNITE HERE Florida Political Director
UNITE HERE was the first group in Florida 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.
UNITE HERE Florida is a labor union that represents over 34,000 workers in the hotel, casino, food service, and airport industries in Central and South Florida. At the peak of the pandemic, over 98% of UNITE HERE members were unemployed, and 75% are still out of work today. UNITE HERE’s Take Back 2020 campaign is the largest canvassing operation in the state of Florida, with more than 300 full-time canvassers and hundreds more volunteers.