As the Local 600 Young Workers ramped up a hugely successful summer voter registration campaign, the team deployed multiple volunteers to ensure that not a single member was left behind.
To reach the 40 members based in Puerto Rico, the committee turned to a native-born volunteer: 2nd AC Jose Figueroa-Baez, a member of 10 years whose interest in politics and ties to the region made him the ideal choice.
“I’m an islander, born and raised,” said Figueroa-Baez who moved from Puerto Rico to New Orleans in 2007 and now lives in Los Angeles. “I try to stay very informed and I always want to help out. This was a very good opportunity.”
The COVID-19 shutdown of the motion picture and TV industry left Figueroa-Baez largely idled since mid March. So when 1st Assistant and National Executive Board (NEB) member Brian Udoff, who knew of Figueroa-Baez’s island ties, reached out to him, he was intrigued.
An avid cyclist who had spent the spring and summer biking, camping and spending time with his fiancée, looked forward to the challenge. Even his wedding plans, which included a honeymoon to Southeast Asia, had to be put on hold.
The task of reaching any un-registered Puerto Rican members was right in Figueroa-Baez’s wheelhouse. He was already acquainted with some of the members and he also had insight about the political landscape of Puerto Rico.
“I had to go through pages and pages of research,” he said. “Sadly, the elections commission website for Puerto Rico is not very forthcoming with information. I had to dig through it a little bit.”
By translating the pitch script into Spanish and personalizing the message, Figueroa-Baez had several positive interactions. Conducting outreach for both the primary and the general election, he reached every Local 600 member there. For good measure, Figueroa-Baez helped with member outreach in Los Angeles as well.
The situation in Puerto Rico was made all the more challenging by the fact that the region had the earliest registration deadline. In addition, the Puerto Rico primary was suspended in August when ballots didn’t arrive at voting precincts.
“With all of the attention that Puerto Rico had been getting the past few years since Hurricane Maria, I thought it was important that we at Local 600, as an entity, reach out to our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico and let them know, ‘Hey, you’re part of our union and we would love for you to get involved locally to help push our union values,’” said Figueroa-Baez.
By the time it concluded, the Young Worker’s voter registration campaign had reason to celebrate: 100 percent of members were reached and registered.