Service + Solidarity Spotlight: All Hands on Deck in Tight Virginia Election: UNITE HERE’s Massive Canvass Operation Bets on Bread-and-Butter Issues

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Since August, dozens of UNITE HERE hospitality workers have been knocking on tens of thousands of doors across northern Virginia, encouraging voters to elect Terry McAuliffe as governor, Hala Ayala as lieutenant governor and Mark Herring as attorney general. With polls showing an increasingly close race between McAuliffe and his Trump-backed opponent, the union is set to more than triple its efforts by bolstering its number of canvassers to 200—and knocking on more than 200,000 doors in total.

“2020 showed us once again that when we fight, we win,” said Marlene Patrick-Cooper, president of UNITE HERE Local 23. “We need to double our efforts to win this political fight in November, make Virginia a great state to be a worker, and bring thousands more workers in airports, universities and cafeterias into the union. Virginia 2021 can either be Michigan in 2016 or Georgia in 2020—it all depends on how hard we are willing to fight for the working class in the Commonwealth.”

The canvassers—housekeepers, cooks, bartenders and food service workers—are fighting to keep the commonwealth from sliding backward. After electing a pro-worker governor and state legislature, Virginia passed a minimum wage increase, expanded public sector bargaining and introduced paid sick leave for home health care workers.