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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Freedom Day

Juneteenth – now a paid holiday for City workforce


Juneteenth, Freedom Day, is now an official paid holiday for New York City public employees thanks to successful DC 37 negotiations with Mayor Adams.

Since Juneteenth this year falls on a Sunday, employees who work on the actual holiday of June 19 will get compensated with premium pay and a day. Those who work on the observed day, Monday, June 20, will get the comp day in addition to regular pay. Juneteenth will follow the same rules as current holidays. The holiday is for full-time employees who are covered by the Citywide agreement as well as 220 titles, Department of Education employees, NYCHA, and Health+Hospitals, as well as members employed by the State. Employees required to work on the holiday will receive holiday premium and a day added to the leave bank for later use, while those who work the observed day will get a day added to the leave bank for later use.

“The paid holiday of Juneteenth is a step toward healing our city and our nation,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.

DC 37 is engaged in ongoing negotiations with authorities, cultural institutions, and the library systems, as well as other nonprofit/private sector units, for this same holiday. Members with questions should please contact their union representative.

President Biden and then-New York Gov. Cuomo respectively designated Juneteenth as a federal and state holiday in 2021, with then-Mayor de Blasio following suit for the city. Mayor Adams made it an official paid holiday for municipal workers in April 2022.

A day of reckoning and closer examination of America’s historic record of racial atrocities, social injustices and the painful legacy of slavery entered the national dialogue after the horrific murder of George Floyd. Black Americans called for justice and the removal of Confederate flags, monuments, and statues that honored slavers. Difficult conversations about race relations, policing, and excessive force were had in communities, churches, and on college campuses.

For more than 150 years, African American communities throughout the country have celebrated Juneteenth as the “second Independence Day.” It commemorates June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers finally reached enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, and announced their freedom. The news came two and half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863, freed enslaved Blacks in Confederate states at the end of the Civil War. It wasn’t until 1866, however, that New Jersey became the last state to outlaw slavery.

Black communities throughout the country hold jubilant Juneteenth festivals with fireworks, parades, music, rodeos, and pageants. They celebrate Freedom Day June 19 with barbeques and enjoy crimson treats like red velvet cake, strawberry soda, hibiscus tea, and strawberry lemonade. Food editor Toni Tipton-Martin said commemorating Juneteenth with food colored red has some significance to the shed blood and suffering African Americans experienced during slavery.