Sara Lonardo,

Issued July 09, 2020

SEIU endorses Joe Biden for president by kicking off massive volunteer operation

Union’s largest-ever voter engagement program will focus primarily on infrequent voters in communities of color in 8 key battleground states

WASHINGTON, DC - The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced its endorsement of Joe Biden to be the 46th president of the United States today, officially kicking off a 40-state effort involving tens of thousands of volunteers. The program is a key part of the union’s previously-announced voter engagement campaign, which is primarily focused on turning out infrequent voters of color in eight key battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Volunteers will engage both union members and non-members, with a goal of reaching more than six million voters. 

“The essential workers united in SEIU are all in to elect Joe Biden because we know he will do what is essential for working people,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “In this moment of reckoning for our nation, Joe Biden has the experience, compassion and steady leadership to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and the long-standing economic and racial inequality that it has exacerbated. SEIU is two million essential workers strong, ready to mobilize and organize, traditionally and digitally, to elect Joe Biden in November.” 

With today’s announcement, hundreds of SEIU members will begin virtually deploying to be full-time political organizers through November 3. The Member Political Organizing (MPO) program continues a long-standing SEIU effort that empowers SEIU members to talk with their coworkers about making their plan to vote, recruit volunteers and work with locals on the ground to get out the vote. MPOs will take lessons learned over the past four months to build on the work done over the last several years, and connect with voters in multiple languages and digitally.

“I’m excited to be part of an army of volunteers ready to get out there and tell voters about why Joe Biden should be our next president,” said Maria Jacobi, an SEIU Local 1107 member who works at the Clark County (Nev.) Department of Family Services and is ana MPO. “Especially in a diverse state like Nevada, we need to make sure we’re communicating with people in the way that they’re most comfortable. That might mean in Spanish or Tagalog, or sending a text instead of door knocking. We’re doing whatever it takes to elect Joe Biden, the leader we need to unrig our economy and democracy for working people like me.”

SEIU members came together to talk about why they’re excited to support Joe Biden in a video released today. The video shows Biden standing with SEIU members and not-yet-union workers during a strike at a McDonald’s in Los Angeles, making his demands for a strong coordinated response to defeat the coronavirus pandemic, and reaffirming his support for working people and their right to join a union. It also details how, as essential workers, they will be #EssentialforJoe, because as president he will be essential for them.

“He’s a good man who cares about people, and wants everyone to be able to raise a family with dignity and security,” says Chris Ellis, a SEIU Local 668 member and income maintenance caseworker from Pennsylvania, who introduced Biden at SEIU’s Unions for All Summit last October and appears in the video. “The stakes are higher than ever in this election and I’m looking forward to casting my ballot for someone who will fight for the soul of our nation - not try and divide us against each other.” 

Biden will join SEIU members and other essential workers fighting to form their union for a virtual walk-a-day and roundtable on July 22. More details on that event will be made available in the coming weeks.

“As a nurse, I’ve seen first-hand how coronavirus is ravaging our communities, disproportionately infecting and killing Black and brown people,” said Marlyn Hoilette, an 1199 United Healthcare Workers-East member and hospital worker from Florida, who will participate in the roundtable. “Joe Biden has a plan for a comprehensive approach to fighting coronavirus that focuses on testing, personal protective equipment, nationwide standards to reopen safely, and the need to protect Black, brown, API and native communities that are being hardest hit. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important for us to do everything we can to make sure he gets elected this fall.”

As many states modify polling places and move to mail-in ballots, SEIU will also work to make voting accessible with a particular focus on the impact of vote-by-mail on historically marginalized Black, Latino, and API communities. SEIU members have already texted about three million voters in Florida, California, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and other states to help them register to vote and sign up to vote by mail this November.  

“Voting by mail is safe, secure and necessary, especially in the midst of a pandemic when essential workers like me are already risking our lives just by going to work,” said Pamela Owens-Moore, an SEIU Local 1 janitor from Detroit. “No one should have to choose between their vote and their safety. I’m talking to as many people as possible to make sure that they know their rights and can cast their ballot for Joe Biden.”