No More Emancipation Day for D.C. Workers?
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is quietly moving to kill a perk enjoyed by D.C. employees, if not by D.C. residents.
That would be a paid day off for Emancipation Day, which falls on April 16. The day has been treated as public holiday since 2005, though in 2005 and 2006 it fell during weekends. The past two years, however, the day has fallen during the week, leading to vexed and perplexed service-seeking residents (such as WCP's own Ruth Samuelson).
Draft budget legislation [PDF, Title I, Subtitle G] submitted by the mayor ends the holiday for 2010. Mayoral spokesperson Mafara Hobson provided documents showing the government stands to save $1.3 million next year by paying employees forced to work on April 16 their standard wage rather than a holiday wage. Under the proposal, Emancipation Day would still be a "private holiday," meaning employees could take personal leave time to observe the occasion.
Needless to say, the local labor community stands to be none too pleased with such a development. Geo T. Johnson, who heads the AFSCME council representing thousands of District employees, says what really stings is the lack of communication. "It's sort of sad that he's just unilaterally taking away things," he says. "This is the kind of mayor he is....It would be different if there was some ongoing dialogue with his administration, but there has been no dialogue."
Johnson says Hizzoner isn't going to have his way on this one and vows to fight the measure in the council: "He's not going to do that. We're not going to let him do that," he says. "If he wants war, we can give him a war."
At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson says he's sympathetic to the employees on this one: "This seems to be consistent with a number of backhanded ways to reduce employee benefits," he says.