Maya Alleruzzo / AP
Stock Exchanges: Open. Mail? Open up.
Federal courts? Schools? Banks? Businesses? It depends.
The 11th, a holiday that marks the end of slavery by marking the day of the enslavement of people in Texas who learned they were free, is now a federal holiday. The move comes after growing support across the country to mark the day of celebration and reflection.
But the actual practices of celebrating holidays are still very different.
Some government agencies remain open, citing brief notice
The establishment of a new federal holiday – which took effect immediately – sparked disagreements with courts and government agencies. They usually celebrate federal holidays, but this time there were different outcomes.
Many “irrelevant” government offices have been closed. The U.S. Postal Service is still open, expressing support for the holiday, but saying that “it is not possible to interrupt the work of the postal service” with only 24-48 hours for planning.
Some federal courts have shut down, but not all.
Similarly, school districts that typically celebrate federal holidays had to decide individually whether to stay open on Friday or closed, with very little notification to families. There was no consistent strategy: schools in Baltimore City, for example closed, while Baltimore County schools remained open.
Businesses and non-profit organizations do not have to close, and some had to quickly decide whether to turn around …
Federal holidays are not mandatory for U.S. businesses, but few businesses have responded quickly to holiday celebrations – even with just a few hours in advance.
Stanley Black & Decker announced late Thursday that he will take Friday for “hope and healing,” and will celebrate the new federal holiday in the years to come.
But many others are stuck with their previous plans, saying it is simply too difficult to declare a day off without additional warnings.
“There just wasn’t enough time to plan and prepare for the announcement and proper implementation of this holiday,” Alesia Jones, head of HR at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told NPR.
Jones said she was excited (and surprised) that the federal government and the state of Alabama had moved so quickly to create a new holiday. But shutting down a large research institution and hospital without prior notice “could create a level of disorder or insecurity” that would be counterproductive. She said the university is committed to recognizing the holidays and working on details for what it will do in the future.
… while many others were already it is planned to be observed on June 19
Many companies have had already planned to celebrate the holidays. Some began the practice last year, following a racial showdown sparked by the murder of George Floyd. Reactions to these corporate policies vary, with some dismissing them as empty symbolism, while others hail them as a sign of inclusiveness and attention to racial issues.
A Mercer poll released on June 3, found that 9% of companies surveyed planned to celebrate June 19 as a holiday in 2021 – the same percentage as planned to mark Columbus Day / Indigenous Peoples Day, a long-established federal holiday.
For some companies – especially Nike – respecting June 19 actually means closing retail outlets. For others, like Starbucks and Best Buy, locations will remain open, but employees receive additional compensation for their work.
Other companies say they recognize June 19 without actually watching it. Google does not give people a day off, but encourages them to cancel appointments. AT&T told CNN it was “encouraging” people to take advantage of the existing leave to take down June.
Rosa Nunez, director of diversity, equality and inclusion at Foley Hoag Law Office, argues that nodding your head to a vacation without paid leave is insufficient.
“It should be a paid holiday, not just a holiday added to your calendar,” says Nunez, whose organization began marking June 13 as a paid day off last year. “You really have to be meaningful and authentic to be influential.”
More jobs may be watching the holiday in the years to come
Now that a federal holiday has been established, many companies that have so far refused to respect the holiday can change course.
Many large banks say they will start celebrating the holiday next year, and meanwhile offer employees a floating day off use sometime this year. . Stock markets remain open for this year, although they may repeat the assessment in the future.
Many other organizations, although they did not accept the holiday this year, have indicated plans to incorporate it into their calendars in the years to come.
Jones says top leaders of the University of Alabama at Birmingham have pledged to recognize the holiday for years to come, although details are still being worked out. And he says he’s not sure if that would have happened without state and federal recognition.
Nunez says marking June 19 is just one of many steps the company should take toward greater equality and equity. And he hopes the federal holiday, while not mandatory for most jobs, inspires companies to follow suit.
“Recognizing the stain of slavery and slavery in the United States and the work that needs to be done – I mean, it should be followed by many, many organizations,” she says. “The private sector doesn’t have to follow the government, but that’s quite right.”