Paid to protest the president? Bay Area employees get days off for civic engagement

While many conservative claims about paid protesters demonstrating against President Trump have been met with skepticism and dismissal — in the Bay Area — some of them might actually be getting money for being there.

Companies in the region are increasingly offering their employees paid time off to participate in protests, marches and other demonstrations as part of civic engagement policies.

“Democracy is a participatory institution; it’s not just something that takes place every four years when you have a candidate in a race,” Adam Kleinberg, CEO of San Francisco ad firm Traction, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The company gives its workers two paid “Days of Action” per year.

Furthermore, tech giants like Facebook recently allowed their employees to take a day of paid leave to participate in the May Day immigration rights demonstration in San Francisco — a rally that was largely a protest of Trump’s agenda.

“At Facebook, we’re committed to fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and speaking up,” a spokesman explained in an emailed statement. “We support our people in recognizing International Workers’ Day and other efforts to raise awareness for safe and equitable employment conditions.”

Major tech figures like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and co-founder Sergey Brin have all spoken out against the president, illustrating this administration’s frosty relationship with the industry.

And even those who showed a willingness to work with the White House have faced a wave of scrutiny. For example, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned from the president’s business advisory council earlier this year after facing intense backlash, seeing #DeleteUber trend at the top of Twitter over his decision to offer guidance on a job growth agenda.

The policies appear to reflect a growing discontent in the heavily liberal region that Trump presents more than just policy differences — but an existential threat to their well being and daily life.

“It’s a recognition of the fact that civic engagement is something that we should be doing not just as individuals but as a company,” Buoyant CEO William Morgan told CS Monitor about his software company’s policy. “I wanted to make it more clear that we could not be passive citizens in this world.”

While the policies aren’t new — as companies like Comcast have been offering such leave for years — they appear to be taking on new life in the Trump era.

“People were wishing that I was dropped off in an (Islamic State) territory, calling me an idiotic libtard, candy-ass, saying they hope we’ll go out of business. Really nasty stuff,” Kleinberg told the Chronicle about the backlash to the policy.

Overall, Trump’s policy proposals have been met with a particularly strong response in Silicon Valley due to his stance on issues like the controversial H-1B visa program that tech companies say they rely on to recruit top talent — but one critics say comes at the expense of American workers.

And the president’s rhetoric may be having some effect, as the number of H-1B applications dropped to under 200,000 in 2017 — a 15 percent decrease from a year earlier.

10 comments

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  1. Turthafuss
    Turthafuss 12 May, 2017, 11:07

    I use their products but have little respect for the “titans” of cyberspace. Very little.

    Reply this comment
  2. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 12 May, 2017, 12:41

    I wonder . . . when an employee says they are going off to protest, how does the company know that they did? They sending attendance monitors to the political rallies? What if some employee goes to a PRO-Trump rally?? Have these companies informed their shareholders of this “protest at company expense” policy?

    Why don’t they just cut the crap, and simply give everyone more days off?

    Reply this comment
    • FreedomFrank
      FreedomFrank 12 May, 2017, 20:09

      excellent point by Rider. Also these companies can just act like George Soros and give money to the front groups that pay for the fake protesters. I think share holders will like that better.

      Reply this comment
    • Richard Rider
      Richard Rider 13 May, 2017, 07:04

      Seems to me that a clever employee at such a company would take the day off and then go get paid by a Soros front group to protest! Double dipping!!

      Reply this comment
  3. Ghettoman
    Ghettoman 12 May, 2017, 15:25

    These people are what is responsible for the “pussification” of America. If anyone tool the day off for protest from my business that would be it. Why not take off a month for being depressed that you need to be a citizen to work here? The problem is that, for the last 8 years liberals got their way and everyone got their own “special” treatment at the cost of the rest of us. Now that we have someone in office who actually obeys the law the left cries out for justice. I think, in this case, justice means for the left, just us! By the way, the 2 Mexicans that left my work place to protest, were fired the next day when they decided to finally come back to work!

    Reply this comment
    • Tobi
      Tobi 13 May, 2017, 03:11

      Agreed. And glad you fired the two who took that day off! It really is getting ridiculous!

      Reply this comment
  4. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 13 May, 2017, 07:06

    Theres no doupts about it anymore these liberals run places paying their emplys to protest anything Trump has done and their will partners in the mian-stream liberal leftists controled news media

    Reply this comment
  5. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 13 May, 2017, 09:21

    Doomers……a private company can spend as it feels best for the company……get over it.

    As far as government spending the money for demonstrating….kiss their rings…you’re ruled….and…..get used to it!

    Reply this comment
  6. Bill - San Jose
    Bill - San Jose 13 May, 2017, 22:24

    Trump to the rescue.

    Hope and change on its way and I couldn’t be happier. We are in a war folks. This is a genuine conflict and the sooner we address this with new schools, border walls, reigning in corruption (just watched all the presidents men btw) and the abolition of a two party city named DC, the sooner we will see true freedom in this nation.

    Reply this comment
  7. Dork
    Dork 14 May, 2017, 10:53

    Since Facebook, Twitter,… and such are Publicly Admitting they are Paying people to Protest and Riot, I hope Everyone Injured or affected in a Negative way SUES THE CRAP out of Every Tech Company Paying people to RIOT and Protest.

    Reply this comment

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