New national holiday Friday as governments nationwide scramble to shut down

While June 19 – which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States – falls on a Saturday this year, governors across the country announced several plans for their state offices on Friday, the working day closest to the new holiday.

Many states, such as Maryland, Nebraska, Missouri, West Virginia, and Alabama, will give most public employees days off, but government employees in other states, such as California, will have to wait for the new law to feel the effect.

“It is encouraging to see bipartisan efforts to recognize the importance of Juneteen,” a spokesman for California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said in a statement. “Governors issue a proclamation each year to celebrate this important day. At the state level, establishing the holiday usually requires legislation and collective bargaining.”

Similarly, in Washington, DC, “many district employees will continue to serve to maintain essential district operations,” according to a news release from Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office. This includes walk-up vaccination sites, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Parks and Recreation. and while District schools will remain closed, the high school graduation ceremony will begin.
The patchwork of responses underscore the rarity of a new federal holiday. Juneteenth is about to be installed for the first time Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983 and becomes at least the eleventh federal holiday recognized by the US federal government.

At the federal level, the US Office of Personnel Management announced in a memo that most federal employees would have a Friday off.

The memo states, “Agencies should instruct such employees not to report to work on Fridays – unless the agency determines that their services are required. If necessary, they will earn leave premium payments.”

A meeting of vaccine advisors for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was scheduled for Friday was also rescheduled because of the Juneteenth holiday.

While private businesses are not tied to federal holidays like government agencies, many large corporations Similarly, celebrating Juneth.

US corporate employees at Apple will have a Friday off, as will employees of Lyft and Peloton. Other companies like Google took a middle ground, ending meetings on Friday in honor of the holiday. The New York Stock Exchange will also be open on Friday.

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19, 1865, when Union Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas, in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

The bill, which was passed by the House on Wednesday, gained momentum following Black Lives Matter protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year. Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who blocked the law in 2020, passed the Senate on Tuesday after dropping his objection.


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