Café Reconcile Among N.O. Employers Making Election Day a Paid Holiday

NEW ORLEANS – This year, some New Orleans businesses and organizations are giving their employees paid time off so they can vote in the Nov. 3 election. Some are even offered extra time off so workers could be politically active in the days leading up to voting day.

Café Reconcile said it will be closed for dine-in and takeout services on Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 3) to allow interns and staff time to vote. While the café will be closed, a volunteer team of Reconcile staff and alumni, who have already voted, will spend the day distributing a total of 1,000 free meals and bottled water at nine New Orleans polling locations as voters participate in local and national elections.

“Many voters have to work more than one job to make ends meet and support their families. They may not vote for fear of not making their shift on time,” said Gerald Duhon, executive director of Reconcile New Orleans, in a release. “That shouldn’t be the case. Voting is an important part of our democracy and one that should be easy to access. By closing our doors on Election Day, Reconcile wants show our community that we believe voting matters.”

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Kevin Wilkins, owner of consulting firm trepwise, is another employer who is going all out. He gave his crew time off from Friday, Oct. 30 through Thursday, Nov. 5 so they can “do whatever they can to support the election,” he said.

He’s not alone.

The nonprofit group Foundation for Louisiana, headed by CEO Flozell Daniels, will be giving staff the day off for Election Day. “Impact management firm” LifeCity founder and CEO Liz Shephard is giving her staff a paid holiday on Nov. 3 and also gave a paid half day in October to help support voter education. Lift Louisiana – an organization that supports Louisiana women and families – will give its staff a day off of work on Election Day and the following day so they can “vote, rest and take the time to process the crazy past months.”

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Other companies are making voting a group effort. Real estate developer and consultant Green Coast Enterprises, for instance, recently hosted a staff lunch at the Pythian Market Food Hall. Afterward, everybody walked over to the Smoothie King Center to vote early.

Wilkins, founder and managing director of trepwise, said this extraordinary time required extraordinary measures.

“This is a historic election and I thought it was critical for us to truly live up to our values of service to the community,” he said. “Voting is so core to our democracy that I am closing the firm for four days around the election to give our team members the time and space to support the election process in whatever way they want.”

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Flozell Daniels of Foundation for Louisiana agrees.

“We decided to amend our employee handbook to ensure that Election Day is a paid day off in support of our values of freedom, justice, access and dignity,” he said. “Efforts to make this democracy live up to its potential are more important than ever – voting is the least we can do to advance what’s good for all Louisianans.”

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