Member Q&A: Veronica Senghore, 1 Brooklyn Bridge

Veronica Senghore & State Senator Gustavo Rivera

Hotel Voice, Fall 2022

Veronica Senghore, a member of our Union for 22 years, joined H.E.A.T. this summer to knock on doors for State Senator Gustavo Rivera, who narrowly won a very tough primary. Veronica sat down for an interview with the Hotel Voice to discuss her very first canvassing experience. 

Hotel Voice: Welcome Veronica! Thanks for taking the time to be here with us today. Can you tell us a little about you? How did you come to join the Union?

Veronica Senghore: Before becoming a union member, I worked as a home care attendant taking care of the elderly and the disabled. I was only being paid $6.50 an hour. When I started at the Doubletree Hotel in the early 2000s, we actually were not union yet and it wasn’t easy to join. Management really tried to pressure us not to vote for the Union. But once we won, the jump to a union job was tremendous. 

Hotel Voice: When did you first start volunteering with the Union?

Veronica: To be honest with you, I wasn’t very active with volunteering and didn’t do my part as a union member for years. But during the pandemic, I saw how the Union came through for us and did a whole lot of awesome things, including making sure we had insurance for most of the pandemic. My husband has a pre-existing condition, and we were scared he wouldn’t be able to get his medications, but because of the Union, he got them. And we weren’t even paying union dues. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to give back to my Union after everything. I think it’s the right thing to do. 

Hotel Voice: How did you get started? 

Veronica: I spoke with my HEAT Organizer who called me to volunteer for the Gustavo Rivera campaign in the Bronx, where I live. I was working 6 days a week at the time, so I was volunteering for Gustavo on the one day I had off. I told myself, “I will do the laundry later.” 

Hotel Voice: What was it like when you arrived at your first event?

Veronica: First, we got a quick training. It was really so easy. We used an app which showed us a specific list of doors we were supposed to knock on – so it’s not like you just go to random doors. I didn’t know much about talking to voters, but we got flyers with talking points on them that made it easy. Then we went to knock on the doors. We told voters about Gustavo if they answered, and if they didn’t, we marked them as not home, left flyers, and kept going.

Hotel Voice: Did you know the neighborhood you were canvassing in well? 

Veronica: No, but I used Google Maps on my phone and we stayed in the same general area as other HTC members and organizers. You’re not going from A to Z, you’re going from A to B – it’s all walking distance. 

Hotel Voice: What was your favorite part about canvassing?

Veronica: I actually loved talking to strangers and getting to interact with people. When someone would answer the door, my adrenaline would go up and I’d be more motivated. I got to exercise too, walking for 3 or 4 hours. And I got to know great people from different hotels, which was fun! 

Hotel Voice: What would you say to someone who is nervous to canvass? 

Veronica: Before I went the first time, I was a little worried about safety. Like what happens if someone gets mad when you knock on their door? But the Union doesn’t send us out by ourselves. We go out in groups of two or three and we go out with other people who have experience. So that all made me feel better. You really have nothing to worry about. 

Hotel Voice: Gustavo Rivera won his election by only 506 votes. How did you feel when you heard the news?

Veronica: I was so happy he won! It shows that our efforts really made a difference. And to know that I participated and did my part for our Union made me feel really good. 

Hotel Voice: Do you think canvassing is important?

Veronica: Now I do! When we canvass, it is to help elect people who we trust will help our Union. When we needed politicians during COVID, they had our backs. Maybe that’s because they’re good people, or maybe that’s because other union members worked to support them before COVID. All I know is we need to keep working to elect union supporters during election time. 

Hotel Voice: Will you be coming out to volunteer again?

Veronica: Absolutely, God willing. I will make time. It’s not about politicians, it’s about the Union for me. I know what’s good for my Union is good for me.