University Hospital recently proposed to exchange Good Friday as a holiday for Juneteenth beginning in 2023. HPAE’s initial position was that we should not be asked to give a holiday up for the Hospital to do the right thing, but as we deliberated further, the idea got even worse. Juneteenth is a special holiday to the African-American community however it was never officially recognized until it was signed into law as a state and federal holiday in 2021. Juneteenth represents the fact that African-Americans in Texas remained enslaved for two years after the Civil War ended and it was not until June 19, 1865 that the U.S. troops came to free those slaves, hence the holiday Juneteenth.
As we considered the Hospital’s proposal we learned that Juneteenth is being recognized as a paid holiday at Rutgers as well as many other hospitals and companies throughout the state. Furthermore, Good Friday is observed as a religious holiday by the Hospital while not being recognized as a state or federal holiday therefore if we were to agree to an even exchange of these holidays then a dangerous precedent would be established that will enable our members to work on a federal/state holiday without being paid time and a half. No thanks!
Lastly, please be aware that HPAE made several attempts to negotiate Juneteenth when it was initially enacted as well as throughout contract negotiations, to no avail. HPAE will be sure to provide any updates on this matter as information develops. If you have any questions regarding anything in this email, please feel free to contact your local union rep or email email@example.com.
Banita Herndon, RN
President, HPAE Local 5089