When the 2-million member Service Employees International Union announced in February a $150 million investment in the 2020 election to beat President Donald Trump, the union had no idea its members would soon be on the front lines of a global pandemic.
Now in the final month of the election cycle, SEIU president Mary Kay Henry said that her members might be key to delivering new support for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The SEIU’s digital ads feature a range of essential workers, from a labor and delivery nurse in Nevada to a drug rehabilitation counselor in Pennsylvania. Union members are also using their own pandemic experiences when speaking directly with voters.
“Every day you get out to work with a fear, that feeling that you don’t know if you come back home with the disease, if you bring it home or not,” said Anne Mercie Blot, a 46-year-old Haitian nursing home worker based in Miami. “You have to go to work anyway because someone has to take care of the sick ones, someone has to take care of the elderly.”
Blot puts time in on phone banks and text banks for Biden six days a week through the SEIU. She told HuffPost that she primarily speaks to Florida’s immigrant community.
Turning out foreign-born voters in Florida could make a big difference for Biden. The majority of immigrants eligible to vote in the United States live in just five states — California, New York, New Jersey, Texas and Florida. The first three are not key battlegrounds in the presidential election, but Florida and this year even Texas are.
Blot hopes her exchanges with fellow immigrants have made a difference. Like herself, one woman she spoke with had come to the United States in search of a better quality of life. Instead, Blot recalled, the woman felt like she was in “the same situation she was living, [just] in a different country.”