New US holiday surprises states

Washington (CNN) — States across the country are scrambling to close their government offices Friday after President Joe Biden signed a law establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday in the United States.

While June 19, which marks the end of slavery in the United States, falls on a Saturday this year, governors across the country announced in quick succession a series of plans for their state offices on Friday, the longest working day. close to the new holiday.

Many states like Maryland, Nebraska, Missouri, West Virginia and Alabama will give most public employees the day off, but government workers in other states, like California, will have to wait to feel the effect of the new law.

“It is encouraging to see bipartisan efforts to recognize the importance of Juneteenth,” a spokesman for the California governor’s office, Gavin Newsom, said in a statement. “The governor issues a proclamation each year to celebrate this important day. At the state level, setting a holiday generally requires legislation and collective bargaining. “

Similarly, in Washington, “many District employees will continue to serve to maintain essential District operations,” according to a press release from the office of Mayor Muriel Bowser. This includes walk-in vaccination sites, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Department of Parks and Recreation. And while District schools will be closed, high school graduation ceremonies will begin.

The mosaic of responses underscores the rarity of a new federal holiday. Juneteenth is the first to be established since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983 and becomes at least the eleventh federal holiday recognized by the United States federal government.

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

Agencies must instruct such employees not to report to work on Friday, unless the agency determines that their services are required. If employees are required to work during qualifying vacation hours, they will get holiday pay, ”the memo read.

A meeting of vaccine advisers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that was scheduled for Friday was also rescheduled due to the Juneteenth holiday.

While private companies are not subject to federal holidays like government agencies, many major corporations celebrate Juneteenth in a similar fashion.

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

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

The legislation, which was approved by the House on Wednesday, gained momentum following protests by Black Lives Matter sparked by the murder of George Floyd by police last year. It was approved by the Senate on Tuesday after Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who blocked the legislation in 2020, withdrew his objection.



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