Ric Elias, the CEO of Red Ventures and an outspoken critic of North Carolina’s House Bill 2, is giving his workers extra time off to vote this fall.
In an open letter posted to Twitter on Tuesday, Elias cited the political controversies embroiling North Carolina, from sports leagues pulling games from the state because of the new LGBT law to hotly contested voter ID requirements. Although Red Ventures is headquartered just over the state line in Indian Land, the company was founded in Charlotte and still has offices in the city. Many Red Ventures employees also live in North Carolina.
“Our state is at a tipping point,” wrote Elias. He didn’t call for employees to vote Democratic, but his tone was clearly not sympathetic to North Carolina’s Republican leadership. “We’ve made national news for discriminatory laws, back office politicking and egregious misuses of power.”
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The privately held company employs more than 2,800. Elias’ letter addressed other business leaders, asking them to give their employees more paid time off specifically to allow them to vote, something workers in North Carolina aren’t guaranteed.
“In lieu of that protection for our voters, Red Ventures will provide all employees with an additional 3 hours of paid time off between October 20th and November 8th,” wrote Elias. He also asked Red Ventures employees to pledge to vote.
“The overwhelming civic response to HB2 and the resulting negative fall-out is just one example of what happens when only a few voices determine our collective future,” he wrote. “The costs to our liberty, our economy, and our reputation are too high.”
North Carolina’s legislature recently passed a law that prevents transgender people from using government-run bathrooms corresponding to the gender with which they identify. The law — House Bill 2 (HB2) — has incited a state-wide civil liberties battle. Here is the timeline of the so-called "bathroom bill."Ali Rizvi, Nicole L. Cvetnic and Sohail Al-Jamea / McClatchy