UNITE HERE’s Culinary Union drove turnout in 2020 Nevada Primary during COVID-19 quarantine



Thursday, June 18th, 2020 


Bethany Khan: bkhan@culinaryunion226.org ▪ (702) 387-7088

UNITE HERE’s Culinary Union drove turnout in 2020 Nevada Primary during COVID-19 quarantine

Las Vegas, NV – UNITE HERE’s Culinary Union ran an aggressive political effort during the 2020 Nevada Primary. The Culinary Union mobilized thousands of hospitality workers, immigrant, and Black voters to win primaries for candidates who will fight for our families: Congressman Steven Horsford (CD-4), County Commissioner William McCurdy (CC-D), Senator Roberta Lange (SD-7), and Assemblywoman Elaine Marzola (AD-21).

The Culinary Union’s battle-tested political program was responsive to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The campaign was planned and executed specifically for shelter-in-place/quarantine, and drew from the Culinary Union’s rich knowledge of effective voter contact, which is rooted in the principle of working people talking to each other about the importance of building power through voting. The Culinary Union’s 2020 Primary Election effort was a a vote-by-mail operation that was run on Zoom in both English and Spanish. 

“Nevadans sent a clear message during this Primary Election that Trump is a threat to workers and democracy, and we are committed to defeating him in November and electing candidates who won their primaries to office,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union. “From implementing the recommended health and safety standards of daily housekeeping in casinos to mandatory testing for all hospitality workers, we remain focused on safety - we will work with newly elected and re-elected political leaders to ensure front-line hospitality workers have the protections they deserve.”

While the Clark County Elections Department is still tabulating ballots, countywide turnout is already 25% - beating most experts’ predictions by more than five points.

Total political efforts for 2020 Primary Election: 

The Culinary Union’s political team was comprised of 150 UNITE HERE and Culinary Union members who volunteered for 24 days. Get out the vote (GOTV) efforts were targeted at Congressional District 4, County Commission District D, State Senate District 7, and Assembly District 21 races.

In addition to a robust mail program, where 93,000 pieces were mailed to Culinary Union members and the general public, the Culinary Union also deployed a strong bilingual phone bank program which was entirely run by worker volunteers who made calls in English and Spanish.  

UNITE HERE and Culinary Union members who were laid off from their hospitality and casino jobs during shutdown volunteered to phonebank during the Primary Election and had effective one-on-one political organizing conversations with thousands of Nevadans. 70,000 personal calls and over 21,000 automated calls were made to Culinary Union members, their families, and other targeted registered voters. UNITE HERE union members from California, Florida, and Michigan also assisted in efforts during the final weeks of GOTV.

The Culinary Union ran a comprehensive strategic communications program, which included 234,500 texts and 236,300 emails to 60,000 members, completely in-house internal polling, and digital ads on social media reminding Nevadans to vote.  

County Commission District D: William McCurdy II

In a crucial race for the future of working families in Nevada, the Culinary Union led early with an endorsement for County Commissioner William McCurdy II in a district where registered Democrats are 39% Latinx and 31% Black. 

The campaign culminated in a week of extraordinary national and local mobilization for Black lives after the murder of George Floyd. Culinary Union members who are majority Black and Latinx volunteered for thousands of one-on-one conversations with voters who connected the need for justice for all Black people with the Primary Election – and the need to defeat Trump this fall. 

Issues important to working families are on the ballot this November and the Culinary Union remains focused on:
-Safety on-the-job for hospitality front-line workers and their families. 

-Winning comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

-Defeating Trump on Election Day.

UNITE HERE’s Culinary Union will put our unmatched organizing power to mobilize workers and voters in the state to get out and vote on Election Day. 


Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of the casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. UNITE HERE represents 300,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America.  

The Culinary Union, through the Culinary Health Fund, is one of the largest healthcare consumers in the state. The Culinary Health Fund is sponsored by the Culinary Union and Las Vegas-area employers. It provides health insurance coverage for over 145,000 Nevadans, the Culinary Union’s members and their dependents.  

The Culinary Union is Nevada’s largest immigrant organization with members who come from 178 countries and speak over 40 different languages. We are proud to have helped over 18,000 immigrants become American citizens and new voters since 2001 through our affiliate, The Citizenship Project. 

The Culinary Union has a diverse membership -- approximately 55% women, 54% Latinx, 19% White, 15% Asian, 10% Black, and less than 1% Indigenous Peoples — and consists of guest room attendants, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, bartenders, laundry and kitchen workers. The Culinary Union has been fighting for fair wages, job security, and good health benefits for workers in Nevada for 85 years.   

CulinaryUnion226.org / @Culinary226  


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