Juneteenth is in its second year as a federally-recognized holiday. While a lot of federal and state workers will be off, it will be a workday for a lot of workers at private employers.
Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, the day Major General Gordon Granger informed Texas that all enslaved people were free. Since last year, the federal government, state of Ohio and Cuyahoga County recognize the day as a holiday, meaning most government employees have the day off.
Since June 19 falls on the Sunday this year, the holiday is observed on Monday, June 20.
A survey from the Employer Resource Council, an organization with more than 1,000 members, showed that 10% of employers offer the day as a paid holiday this year. In comparison, about 10% offer the day before Thanksgiving as a holiday, and 22% offer Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday.
Cleveland.com sent questions to Ohio’s 25 largest employers to see how many workers might get the day off. Many will be open as usual, though several did not respond to the questions.
Many of Ohio’s largest employers are hospitals or in the healthcare field, and don’t recognize the holiday as a day off, but do plan events around it. University Hospitals, for instance, observes only six holidays a year.
“University Hospitals celebrates Juneteenth with our caregivers as part of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives,” a statement from the hospital read.
Retailers, like Giant Eagle and Walmart, gave similar answers. They’ll stay open for the holiday and provide additional programming.
“As we look forward to the upcoming Juneteenth holiday, we are excited to continue to provide platforms for our Team Members to learn about the holiday’s significance and the responsibility we all have to advocate for inclusion, equity and diversity,” said Jannah Jablonowski, a Giant Eagle spokesperson.
“For example, our most recent Standing Up Against Racism education series featured a panel discussion surrounding the intersection of food insecurity and race and introduced the work Giant Eagle has taken on to increase food access in Black communities. As with many federal holidays, our retail locations and corporate offices will remain open on Juneteenth to best serve our communities.”
Both health and retail companies pointed toward “flexible time off,” and said employees can request the day off if they want to.
Some large companies, like Nationwide and Progressive, have given employees extra time for them to use as they choose. Progressive started giving workers two additional days off in 2021 to “observe any holiday or personal event that was meaningful to them,” said William Clawson, Chief Human Resource Officer, Progressive.
“We also added Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to our list of annual paid holidays,” Clawson said. “So, while Juneteenth is not a company-wide day off, we offered more PTO days throughout the year to make it easier for employees who want to observe that day, or others.”
Some of Ohio’s largest employers, like the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base or the Ohio State University, are government institutions, and recognize the holiday with time off.
According to HellaCreative, a California-based group that pushes for widespread recognition of Juneteenth, 700 companies have pledged to observe the holiday. The group keeps a list of those companies on its website.
Among the list are companies like Intel, Adidas, Nike, Uber and Twitter.
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