- Patagonia Facebook
Hundreds of companies, from General Motors to Spotify, are giving workers paid time off to vote on Election Day this year.
On Friday, Patagonia announced that the outdoor clothing and gear company would close all US stores on November 8, in an effort to encourage customers and employees to vote.
“During a time of catastrophic environmental crisis, when America needs strong leadership to confront the fundamental threat of climate change, voter turnout threatens to reach historic lows as people are turned off by the ugliness of politics,” Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario said in a statement. “We want to do everything possible to empower citizens to make their voices heard and elect candidates up and down the ballot who will protect our planet.”
Patagonia’s decision to give employees a day off on Election Day is part of a wider movement that has resulted in hundreds of companies – mostly tech startups – giving workers a paid time off, or even the full day off, on November 8.
According to the “Take Off Election Day” website, companies including Spotify, TaskRabbit, and Square are giving employees time off on November 8. Most companies on the list are small startups, with more than 130 of the 322 companies involved employing just one to 10 people.
The “Take Off Election Day” website, which is run by Hunter Walk, a partner at the venture capital firm Home Brew in San Francisco, allows people to anonymously send their employers an email explaining the cause.
“This election is one of the most important elections in our generation,” the email reads. “We’re encouraging all companies to let their employees take some time off to vote on November 8th, 2016.”
Since 1999, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler have given employees the day off to vote, thanks to a contract negotiated by the United Auto Workers union.
In 2014, Bernie Sanders proposed a bill to make Election Day a national holiday, called “Democracy Day.”
Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the opportunity to vote.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 30, 2016
“Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote,” Sanders’ website reads. “While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a more vibrant democracy.”