Progressive groups have united to curb the restriction of voting rights. They used the nation’s capital as their soapbox.

“Voting is fundamental to working people’s power. This is a fight we’re not backing down from—people’s lives and futures are at stake” stated UNITE HERE International Union President D. Taylor. “No one should ever underestimate the determination of the people. We call on Congress to take bold action and deliver the protections we need at the ballot box.”

This march was the culmination of the Freedom Ride in which busses full of voting rights advocates and union members drove around the country, including the Deep South and the Southwest, to raise awareness of and advocate for voting rights and democracy reform.

Groups are calling on the federal government to pass the For The People Act, which would curb partisan gerrymandering and redistricting, limit foreign interference in American elections, expand early voting, and reduce the influence of money in politics.

UNITE HERE members are mostly Black and Latinx.

Progressive groups and voting rights activists have rebelled against several Republican-led states for passing laws that restrict voting in the wake of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory over former president, Donald Trump.

Last week, Senate Republicans successfully filibustered a bill that would have brought sweeping voting rights legislation to counter Republican-led state efforts to restrict and block progressive votes.

Marlene Patrick-Cooper, president of UNITE HERE Local 23, said the past year has shown how important her union members are and why they need to be compensated for their actions, if not through their wallets, with less restrictive voting rights.

“We’re not new to this, we’re true to this,” stated Patrick-Cooper. ”If COVID-19 taught us anything, it showed us that working people will be treated like we’re disposable unless we have real power—that’s why we’re fighting back. I grew up in the South and I’m very familiar with people of color and working people being pushed to take a step back, but we have a light in us that no one is going to take out.

“We’re not letting anyone take this power away from us.”

UNITE HERE hospitality workers were dealt a bad hand with a 98% layoff rate, and many union members used that time to fight for voting rights and push back against the economic and racial inequalities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 43 states have passed bills that restrict voting.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell led the effort to reject voting rights legislation. During a recent news conference, McConnell said that Washington should leave voting bills up to state governments and Washington should stay out of the way.

“This is not a federal issue,” said McConnell. It ought to be left to the states. There’s nothing broken around the country…the system upheld very well during intense stress in the latter part of the previous Congress. There’s no rational basis for federalizing this election.

“Therefore, there’s no point in having an election—a debate in the U.S. Senate about something we ought not to do.”

Marilyn Wilbur, former worker at Arizona State University, believes differently. The 18-year Air Force veteran said that she shouldn’t have to fight for her right to vote after fighting for her country.

“After losing my job during the pandemic, I joined the political campaign in Arizona,” stated Wilbur. “I spent four months braving the Phoenix summer, to talk to hundreds of voters. Then, I canvassed in Georgia to help elect Senators Warnock and Ossoff. I didn’t risk my life for this country just to have an outdated Senate procedure undermine my democratic rights.”

“We’re not letting anyone take this power away from us.”