More than 6,000 Amazon employees have signed onto an internal petition as of Thursday evening, urging the online retail giant to offer eight hours of paid time off for its workforce to vote on or before Election Day. Amazon is the second largest private employer in the United States, with 1,372,000 U.S. Amazon and Whole Foods Market employees.
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The petition was launched on Tuesday morning by the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group of tech workers formed in 2018 to pressure their employer to commit to reducing fossil fuel emissions. The group argues the move could "have a huge impact on voter participation."
"Eight hours of paid time off could empower nearly a million Amazon workers to be active participants in our democracy. It would also send a signal that voting is a responsibility for us all," the group said in a Medium blog post Tuesday. "With reduced polling locations in many states, eight hours is necessary to ensure nobody is unable to vote because they have to work...Our democracy only works when everyone has the ability to participate."
The petition, first reported by NBC News, is hosted on the company's internal ticketing system, which is used by workers to submit requests and tasks to be completed on the job, such as fixing bugs found on a website. It’s also used internally as a way for employees to submit requests for changes to company policies, like benefits.
“We are less than a month away from the 2020 U.S. election. I strongly urge the company to provide the entire US employee workforce with a paid day/shift off that can be used anytime between now and Election Day on Nov 3,” the petition reads. "This additional day/shift off must be available to all employees every year.”
A spokesperson for Amazon Employees for Climate Justice told FOX Business that Amazon has an opportunity to "raise the bar" and help ensure that every worker’s vote will be counted.
Employees who support the call for time off to vote are signing by adding a “+1” to the ticket or leaving a comment of support below the petition.
An Amazon spokesperson told FOX Business that the company has "supplied all of our employees with information on how to register to vote, details of their local polling locations and how to request time off to vote."
"In all 47 states with in person voting, employees that lack adequate time before or after their scheduled workday to vote, can request and be provided excused time off," the spokesperson added. "The number of hours and pay provided to employees varies by state in line with local laws.”
The Amazon petition comes as a growing number of businesses and retailers are giving their employees time off on Election Day as part of the "Time to Vote" movement, including Walmart, Best Buy, Patagonia, Paypal, Uber and Lyft, among others.
Starbucks also said in August that it would ensure ts 200,000 U.S. employees have the ability to vote on Election Day this year and plan ahead to volunteer at polling facilities. Facebook, Apple and Twitter are also among the companies looking to help boost voter turnout.
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Federal law does not mandate that workers get time off to vote. However, most states allow time for employees to cast their ballots, particularly if their work hours fall during poll hours, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
Fox Business' Jeanette Settembre contributed to this report.