Juneteenth Celebrated As A Federal Holiday For First Time, After Biden Signs Bill
The new holiday, which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S., has elicited a wide range of responses from businesses and workers alike.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management sent out the following memo on Thursday: “Agencies should direct such employees to not report to work on Friday – unless the agency determines that their services are required. If employees are required to work during qualifying holiday hours, they will earn holiday premium pay.”
Maryland, Nebraska, Missouri, West Virginia and Alabama gave their workers Friday off. Texas, Virginia, New York, Massachusetts and Washington already made Juneteenth an official paid holiday years ago.
Some universities chose to cancel class on Friday, including Ohio State and Texas A&M, which joined Harvard University, Georgetown University, Virginia Tech, Columbia University, the University of Virginia, Towson University, Drake University and Loyola Marymount University, schools that made Juneteenth a university holiday in 2020.
The United States Postal Service remained open on Friday and Saturday. USPS stated: “[it’s] not possible to cease the operations of the Postal Service to accommodate an observance over the next 24-48 hours.”
The Postal Service isn’t the only government agency that seemed hesitant to celebrate the new holiday.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s office issued the following statement: “It is encouraging to see bipartisan efforts to recognize the importance of Juneteenth. The Governor issues a proclamation each year to celebrate this important day. At the state level, establishing a holiday usually requires legislation and collective bargaining.”
San Francisco Mayor London Breed also stated that “due to the short notice, City Hall will remain open with minimal staffing to continue providing services.”