The next worker fight: Time off for Juneteenth

·2 min read

Who gets paid time off to celebrate Juneteenth in the years to come will be uneven and complicated, if history is any guide.

Why it matters: Corporate America hasn't grappled with a new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was authorized almost 40 years ago. How they responded took years to evolve.

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  • To this day, it's among those not universally recognized as a paid day off for corporate employees — not to mention for hourly workers.

What's happening: Bank of America, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo are offering a "floating" paid holiday this year — and starting in 2022, it will be part of its holiday schedule.

  • Morgan Stanley told its employees it could "step away from work at midday" today, Bloomberg reports.

  • Nike says it will close all of its distribution centers and retail stores tomorrow, but stores like Target and JCPenney will be open. Starbucks will pay hourly workers time-and-a-half tomorrow, as it did last year.

Catch up quick: Juneteenth has been informally celebrated since 1865 — when the last enslaved people finally got word of their freedom — but corporate America began acknowledging the day just last year, weeks after George Floyd's murder.

  • Over 800 companies are now giving employees paid time off, up from roughly 500 last year, according to Hella Creative — a group that's been petitioning corporations to acknowledge the day.

What to watch: One area where the observance of federal holidays is most inconsistent is stock exchanges — the cornerstone of financial markets.

  • There's no hard-and-fast rule for when trading shuts down. The exchanges close in observance of MLK Day, but they're open on Veterans Day. They close for Good Friday, even though it's not a federal holiday.

  • What exchanges, regulators and industry groups decide for Juneteenth could push employers in adjacent industries to give workers time off.

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