Historic 2020 Election Hits Home Stretch; Frontline Healthcare Workers Use New Tools To Get Out The Vote, Fight For Working Families

September 24, 2020

Media Contact: Ed Gilhuly | 305-807-6906 | egilhuly@leftcom.com

Miramar, FL —As the historic 2020 presidential election hits the home stretch of important deadlines (on September 24 vote-by-mail ballots are being sent by elections offices, and October 5 is the last day in Florida to register to vote), frontline caregivers and members of Florida’s largest healthcare union are using new tools to direct unprecedented get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts and fight for candidates who will best serve the needs of working families.

To date, in conjunction with the Florida For All coalition, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East members and volunteers have helped make 1.1 million phone calls, 500,000 texts and other broad outreach to fellow union and community members who want access to affordable healthcare, better wages, union rights, racial justice, safe communities, a clean environment, fair and humane immigration policies and other priorities. In addition to the work with the public, these efforts have resulted in conversations with 60% of union registered members, a nearly 10% increase in member voter registration, and commitments to vote from 30% of registered members. As part of these initiatives, SEIU has invested more than $2 million into the Florida For All 2020 independent expenditure campaign. And as the November 3 election nears, 1199SEIU volunteers and allies will ramp up their outreach even further with millions of additional calls, texts, social media and other digital contacts.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers and organizers have had to skip traditional GOTV efforts such as door-knocking, neighborhood canvassing, live rallies and other in-person events, but they have more than made up for this with intensified phone-banking, text-blasting, and a new array of virtual meeting platforms.

“We miss the in-person interactions, but the new improved online technologies really allow us to reach many more people at once, safely, but still in a compelling and two-way context,” said Sophia Colley, a member political organizer (MPO) with 1199SEIU and a long-time caregiver in a Central Florida nursing home. “This is crucial in the 2020 election because we need to return to a commitment to democracy and basic decency in our government, especially to the White House, and create an America for all.”

The union has organized and/or partnered in numerous virtual roundtables and “tele-townhall” meetings with national political leaders such as Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Donna Shalala, Val Demings, Charlie Crist, Kathy Castor, Nikki Fried and many more at the state and local level.

Many of these events focused on the very reason they had to be virtual: the failure of the White House to recognize and respond to the COVID-19 virus, leading to the historic health and economic crisis in which more than 200,000 Americans and 13,000 Floridians have died.

Members of 1199SEIU are experts in this issue, of course, working on the front lines in hospitals and nursing homes, risking their own well-being while protecting their patients and the public from the deadly virus.

They’ve experienced first-hand the failures from the Trump administration and the Florida governor’s mansion that caused Florida healthcare facilities to be overwhelmed with COVID-19 infection and death, leaving caregivers without basic personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, gowns and more.

“We’re more than six months into this crisis and we’re still suffering PPE shortages, lack of transparency, and an overall dereliction of leadership. Thousands and thousands of people have died unnecessarily,” said Anne Mercie Blot, a union MPO and nursing home caregiver in Miami. “They dishonestly downplayed the risk when they really knew the dangers, and the death count has kept on rising. This is why so many of us are working and volunteering so hard to make our voices and votes heard, and to elect new, honest and compassionate leaders locally, in Florida and for the nation.”

Florida members of SEIU have endorsed the presidential ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Other candidates supported by Florida union workers can be found here.

In addition, 1199SEIU has launched healthcare-focused platforms such as United For Healthcare 2020 and Healthcare United 2020 to support candidates who stand up for healthcare workers.

Check with your local elections office for more details, but important upcoming dates to remember include:

October 5: Last day to register to vote.
October 19-31: Early voting period (dates and times may vary where you live).
October 24: Last day to request vote-by-mail (VBM) ballot.
October 27: Recommended last day to mail in VBM ballot.
November 3: Election day. Vote in person, last day to drop off VBM at voting location.