Elorza allowing female staffers to take Wednesday off for protest

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The majority of Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza’s senior staff will be among the city employees allowed to take Wednesday off of work as part of a nationwide “day without a woman” protest.

In a statement, Elorza, warned that constituents “may experience delays in the delivery of non-emergency city services” on March 8, which happens to be International Women’s Day.

“Although I understand the inconvenience that this may present for constituents, this effort seeks to emphasize the significant contributions of women in our workforce by highlighting the impact of their absence,” Elorza said in a statement. “They have a right to use their personal time to protest on March 8 and we will respect those who choose to participate.”

Elorza said the top seven people in his cabinet – chief operating officer Robin Muksian, chief of staff Nicole Pollock, policy director Courtney Hawkins, planning director Bonnie Nickerson, communications director Emily Crowell and deputy chiefs of staff Marisa O’Gara and Theresa Agonia – are all women who do “an incredible job every day.”

Crowell said any employee taking the day off will be required take a personal or vacation day.

The “day without a woman” is being organized by same group who held a “women’s march” in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21. Elorza was among the Rhode Island residents who attended the march.

In addition to allowing women to take the day from paid or unpaid labor, the organizers are encouraging protesters to wear red on March 8 and avoid shopping for the day, with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan