2020: Our make or break moment

SEIU is launching the largest voter engagement program in our union’s history

By: Mary Kay Henry

By: Mary Kay Henry

This November will be a tipping point for working people in this country. Over the last three years, we have seen too many hardworking people barely get by, while corporations and billionaires continue to make record profits. We have seen wages stay stagnant in some communities, while Republican leaders cut taxes for the ultra wealthy. The rules are being rigged against us and we need to elect pro-worker leaders into office up and down the ballot that will fight for workers and their families. 

To win in every election, we know we need to turn out voters in all communities - Black, brown, API and white - in states from Michigan and Wisconsin to Pennsylvania and Florida. That's why SEIU members and organizing leaders are embarking on an ambitious political program that surpasses anything we’ve seen in our almost 100-year history, and the centerpiece of this program is our Unions for All demand. 

We plan on talking to 6 million individual voters by Election Day by focusing on infrequent voters in all communities - building on our victories in 2018 and 2019.  

Members like Trece Andrews, a Detroit nursing home worker, are driving our electoral work. Despite working full time, Trece finds it almost impossible to provide the basics that she and her daughter need, like rent and food. That’s why she is fighting to win a union. In past elections, Trece has canvassed neighborhoods, driven voters to the polls and helped educate them about the importance of voting. From now until November, she'll be talking to her neighbors about Unions for All, and how the only way we can drive a turnaround in communities like hers will be to vote for candidates who will give all working people, no matter where they work, the chance to join together in a union to bargain for higher wages and better jobs. One or two elections will not result in overnight change, but working people like Trece are committed to staying in the fight with their sisters and brothers so that they can build long-lasting power.

Our strength comes from the two million hardworking men and women who make up SEIU and the workers in the Fight for $15 and a Union movement who will stand together to deliver real change in 2020. 

In addition to face-to-face conversations with voters, we will execute a large-scale peer-to-peer texting drive by sending over 15 million texts by Election Day, November 3. Within our own SEIU family, we will reach out to all members, regardless of their party, and retirees, making sure they understand the importance of electing a president who will support working people, and we will connect with every SEIU member several times over the next nine months. To fund all of these efforts, SEIU and our locals have committed to an historic, unprecedented investment now through November. 

SEIU members and organizing leaders will generate their loudest-ever voice during an election season, lifting up our Unions for All demand with voters and candidates alike. We have already seen tremendous progress over the last 6 months, as Democratic presidential candidates have walked strike lines, held roundtables with workers discussing their plans to make it easier to join a union, and even walked a day in the life of workers from California to Pennsylvania. 

As a result of our loud and proud demand for Unions for All, we have seen the Democratic candidates put forth the most bold and ambitious plans to help millions of working people join together in unions to bargain for better jobs and better lives. 

Now it’s time we take our efforts even deeper into our communities. November 3 will be a defining choice for our families and our communities. So many aspects of our lives will be at stake: family-supporting wages, affordable healthcare, racial justice, a livable climate, voting rights, the opportunity to join together in unions, and how we treat new Americans who have come here as immigrants. Together, we will mobilize and we will win.

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