Senate votes to add another day off for State workers: Juneteenth


The Alaska Senate has passed Senate Bill 22, sponsored by Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, an Anchorage Democrat. If passed by the House and signed by the governor it would bring the number of official state holidays to 12, by the addition of June 19, also known as Juneteenth.

The recognition marks a day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and proclaimed the Civil War had ended and that all enslaved people were free. The slaves and their ancestors called the day Juneteenth, the emancipation of people who had been sold into slavery and brought to the Americas starting in colonial times.

Then-Rep. Lesil McGuire sponsored a bill in 2001 that recognized the third Saturday of June as Juneteenth Day.

That was not enough for Sen. Gray-Jackson and most of the members of the Senate. They want to shut down the productivity of the State of Alaska by making it a paid holiday.

The current schedule of government shutdown days in Alaska are:

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (3rd Monday in January)
  • President’s Day (3rd Monday in February)
  • Seward’s Day (Last Monday in March)
  • Memorial Day (Las Monday in May)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Labor Day (1st Monday in September)
  • Alaska Day (October 18)
  • Veterans Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)
  • Every Sunday

The fiscal cost of another government holiday are unclear, and the fiscal notes are muddy. But those state workers who must work that day would be paid double the salary, so the entire Department of Corrections, Public Safety, and various divisions of other departments would incur significant costs.

The Assembly in Anchorage has recently added Juneteenth to the list of paid city holidays. President Joe Biden also shut down the federal government on that day, by executive order.

“This is an important process to bring awareness to the significance of Juneteenth and honor the end of slavery within this nation and acknowledge our history,” said Sen. Gray-Jackson. “It is a moment to reflect, celebrate, and become empowered as a free people. I hope that the passage of this bill will ensure that we as a nation and a state do a better job in talking about what’s painful and create a more just future for all the country.”

Voting for the new state holiday were Sens. Click Bishop, Jesse Bjorkman, Matt Claman, Forrest Dunbar, Cathy Giessel, Gray-Jackson, Lyman Hoffman, James Kaufman, Scott Kawasaki, Jesse Kiehl, Kelly Merrick, Donny Olson, Bert Stedman, Gary Stevens, Loki Gale (she/her) Tobin, and Bill Wielechowski.

Voting against the bill were Sens. Mike Shower, Rob Myers, Shelley Hughes, and David Wilson.

The bill is now in Alaska House, where it will probably not make it to the floor for a vote during the final days of this legislative session.


  1. I’ve been gone too long to calculate the cost of a holiday under today’s contracts, but thirty years ago when we were fighting with the unions about the MLK holiday, it was several million dollars in base cost and much, much more if there was any sort of emergency on that holiday. Perhaps they can give up Labor Day to get Juneteenth, which by the way is only a myth. In any event, only the non-covered employees would get it based on a Legislative enactment; the rest have to bargain it into their labor agreements. If we had an administration with any sense or courage, the price would be high.

    • Art, other than snow plowing and Troopers and possibly some Engineering departments like Bridge Design it would be diffcult to calculate any real productivity by State Government Workers. Given the fact that most Governmental Departments and their employees actually harass the public, maybe we should embrace a “day off” from all those crackers! Freedom Day for all!

    • Come on, Art, you old tightwad. Let’s just really open up the purse and give the Blacks in Alaska a Reparations Day too. Get all of the idiots in the Legislature to unpeel the PF to settle old scores. Why do we need any guardrails for wokeness when we can make all the miscreants happy with free money. Biden gets away with it.

    • Let me help calculate a guesstimate:
      15,000 employees
      20.00 average hourly wage (way low i am sure)
      7.5 hours a day (mist employees do an7.5 hour day, managers do 8 hours)
      15,000 x 20 x 7.5 = 2,250,000 annually
      That is the low estimate. With all their salaries and actual counts i am sure this exceeds 3 million annually.
      It sucks to be smart and know how to do math.

      • It really sucks when you don’t know enough to actually address the issue. Holidays for regular M-F workers don’t mean much other than inconvenience for the public and lost productivity, neither of which you have to budget for. What means something is the holiday call-out for the snowplow operator or the extra shift for the CO or Trooper. Holiday OT is simply horrendously expensive. One weekend heavy snowfall in any urban area will break DOT’s budget in that area for the year if it comes on a holiday.

    • Hey, it’s only our money. Why should they care? They’ll just tax us to get more.

    • Maybe state legislators could roll back their recent huge pay raises by about $10,000 per annum, which would then equal the real cost of living increase that has occurred since their last pay raise, in 2010. LOL

    • Art, I would love to see your thoughts on the following proposal: Enact legislature requiring all private employers to provide their Alaska employees benefits identical to the state employee benefits.

      • Few private employers could afford it, and if they tried to pass it on, they’d go out of business.

      • Art gets it correct again! Art is the best guest contributor to MRAK and fairly close to Suzanne for superb writing skills.

  2. More loss work production in the name of wokeness. I thought we already celebrated Martin L King Day and Black History month this year.

  3. The purpose of this “holiday” is to pick at old wounds, re-establish racial enmity, and divide the American people. We were doing great until Hussein Obama and his race riots came along.

  4. Yeah! Sure! The state of Alaska can afford that!!! Why not add another holiday for a pair. Two holidays for twice the price!! We don’t have any problems with the state budget now, do we? Just how many million dollars is that going to be to pay for that holiday? How many PFD’s would that cover? Oh, that’s right, it’s just your money. Not mine. Easy come, easy go.

      • Wayne, all those named days will then, after enactment, have to have the pronouns changed, No mother day anymore it will be “person birther ” day here on out, to appease the transgenders!

    • I am sad that you appear to be unable to give some respect to the woman, who brought you into this world. Also “Mother’s Day” isn’t officially a paid holiday.
      As to the passing of another holiday for state workers, if the legislature wants to commemorate a chapter in our history, fine, but at least be honest and dump “labor day”. It has been my experience that the majority of Americans has very little idea, what holidays stand for. Ask the younger crowd about Seward’s Day or Presidents Day and they give you a blank stare… Since we no longer teach civics what’s the point.

      • Taxpayer, listen to how you have been programmed by the retailers. You actually believe you need to somehow celebrate a surplus holiday to show respect to your mother–respect you should show every day anyway. Don’t forget, every mother already has a birthday you can make special… as well as her marriage anniversary (hopefully)…. and then Valentine’s Day as well. Retailers contrived Mother’s Day just herd those like you into stores to buy gifts.

        • Yes Wayne, I get it!
          I was responding to “Not Anymore” and his claim that mother’s day is “hurtful and exclusionary”. He seems to be of the opinion that being a mom counts for nothing and should be despised.
          I agree that respect for mom & dad are a year-round way to show your gratitude for their sacrifices caring for you and putting up with you, while you were a teen and full of it. That being said it is nice to give it a little extra consideration like on Mother’s day or birthdays. It doesn’t have to be commercial. To this my mother treasures the cards with macaroni stuck to them……

      • Taxpayer, listen to how you have been programmed by the retailers. You actually believe you need to somehow celebrate a surplus holiday to show respect to your mother–respect you should show every day anyway. Don’t forget, every mother already has a birthday you can make special… as well as her marriage anniversary (hopefully)…. and then Valentine’s Day as well. Retailers contrived Mother’s Day just to herd those like you into stores to buy gifts.

      • “Respect and appreciation for you mother only happen if a holiday is created by card companies and established by lobbying by the Chamber of Commerce.”

        How did our ancestors ever appreciate their mothers without a make believe holiday???

      • Coogan got it right: I was jesting.

        My mother gave birth to and raised (along with my dad) 11 persons and adopted 3. I grew up in a bi-racial family, though both my maternal and paternal units were white.

        I myself have birthed 10 persons, 2 of whom are in heaven.

        In sum, I have a night regard for the might, beauty, grace, and dignity of motherhood, and I’m shocked and appalled at the rising notion that the celebration of Mother’s Day is somehow hurtful and exclusionary (see LifeSiteNews, Toronto School removed student-made Mother’s Day greeting after locals complain).

        But I get it: Satan hates families because we’re an incarnate image of the Trinity.

        Too bad for him: Love wins, because Love is a Person and His name is Jesus Christ.

        • Thanks for clarifying.
          Jokes or sarcasm don’t translate. You only have the words as written and take them at face value. Sadly with all the gender bending posts on some of the subjects, it appeared to be in that vein.

    • More fiscal irrisponsibility.
      You cannot calculate the cost? Every state employee x their hourly rate x 8 hours. Average salary of $25 an hour. 15,000 x 25 x 8 = $3,000,000 annually. This does not include anyone that works during the holiday and will receive overtime.
      That is my wag (wild a$$ guess). Three million annually.
      This is a slap in the face of every one of us Americans and Alaskans, we all celebrate our independence july 4th, no matter which date our particular clan stopped fighting. Get over yourselves with a black holiday that celebrates only black americans. Blacks were not the only slaves in our nation. Instead of creating a NEW holiday, how about embracing the current American holidays with the rest of us?
      Elvi, why do you continue to divide us? Be a uniter not a divider.

    • What a strikingly stupid idea! If anything this should be a celebration of Abe Lincoln. And baby-talk naming conventions? Who thought that would be a good idea?

      • It should be vetoed. It will undoubtedly be a paid holiday, something most workers in the private sector don’t get access to. Why is it public employees get it?

  5. So less PFD money for the public …..more money, for doing nothing, for the public employee.
    2 class system, sponsored by Democrats.

    • Indeed, Alaska was still Russian for 4 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, but I bet we’re still going to face reparation demands.

  6. So disappointing people today always try
    to get out of work. Forced labor awaits for
    the sluggard (or lazy person). My generation (millenials) are equally lazy as their parents.
    You do just the work required doing no more w/o restitutions to begrudgedly do the extra work just to be
    consistently kind to a coworker swamped or overwhelmed.

  7. Outside this crowd the only holidays people care about taking off are thanksgiving, christmas, and july 4th.

  8. Virtue signaling at its finest. Are we gonna celebrate Alamo Day, too? How about Texas Independence?

    Maybe we should just choose 14 days a year the state requires workers to come in, and pay them to stay home 50 weeks.

  9. Next, she’ll be lobbying for “Reparations” seeking to get her paws on the PFD Account!

  10. What a ridiculous, artificial and divisive so-called “holiday”.
    Any ‘holiday’ that pertains to only a minority of the population is inherently divisive and, yes, racist.

  11. ‘

    General Granger’s order only applied to Texas. Legal slavery continued in the Civil War border states of Delaware and Kentucky, which were left out of the Emancipation Proclamation for wartime political reasons, until the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery as a matter of national constitutional law was ratified on December 6, 1865.

    Confederate-aligned Native American tribes maintained slavery in their territories until the following year.

    Since 1948, February 1 has been officially recognized as “National Freedom Day” in honor of the day in 1865 on which Abraham Lincoln signed the Congressional joint resolution that led to the Thirteenth Amendment. That date’s observance later gave rise to Black History Month, annually celebrated throughout February since 1976.

    Nor did General Granger’s order suggest any form of celebration or remembrance. To the contrary, while the order did proclaim the abolition of slavery it also decreed that “the freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages,” and “that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

    In other words, the original Juneteenth was intended to be a work day.

    But historical accuracy was never the point in promoting Juneteenth.

    • Actually, the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to places under Union Army occupation. Other than those places occupied by the Union Army and under martial law, slavery remained in effect until the 13th Amendment was ratified in December of 1865. There was no little controversy about it even here in Alaska as several Native tribes were slaveholders.

  12. Sure, we need to shell out more tax dollars to celebrate the end of the slavery that Alaska didn’t have. I don’t see much cotton being grown herePandering again!!!!!!

    • They would never do that as some state workers are republicans and they wouldn’t want to help them in any way.

  13. Well that proves the government is to big. If they can be off and paid for that many days then they should cut state employment by 50%. To many state employees.

  14. With all due respect to Elvi and the rest of the freed slaves, isn’t it really the turn of some other aggrieved group to play the victim card and make outrageous and expensive demands on the rest of us?

  15. Sorry. None of us alive today need to observe this. None of us are responsible for their lives or past “slavery”.
    Juneteenth is just another push by BLM. I could care less anyway. Any class of people that are still running around complaining about their race are part of the problem.
    I wish this state would focus on things that really matter.. Like children being sexually groomed by freaks in our schools….
    No thank you Elvis Gray

  16. Sorry. None of us alive today need to observe this. None of us are responsible for their lives or past “slavery”.
    Juneteenth is just another push by BLM. I could care less anyway. Any class of people that are still running around complaining about their race are part of the problem.
    I wish this state would focus on things that really matter.. Like children being sexually groomed by freaks in our schools….
    No thank you Elvi Gray

  17. Giving more money for nothing to the ‘workers’ that do nothing. Welcome to unionized socialism in Alaska. Veto this fiscal insanity.

  18. Another stupid idea voted to approve by fearful politicians. Eventually, there will be so many holidays that nobody will go to work.

  19. If we gotta mimic Texas, can we get Ted Cruz as our senator? They can have Swampy Dan.

  20. Shall we celebrate the Stonewall riots next? That should be a week off with pay.

  21. How about another state holiday? Let’s call it “Decend’ (pronounced “descend”, for you un-woke conservatives), and make it the end of December…….the 31st. It will provide state workers a double day off, in conjunction with New Years Day, and con-celebrate both the last day of the previous, catastrophic year, and our collective annual ‘descent’ into the Hell of societal collapse.
    Just a factual tidbit here: the black population in the state of Alaska is 3.6%…………

  22. There is something that rubs me the wrong way about Juneteenth. I of course don’t mind it being a remembered thing, but celebrating it seems off. It’s like celebrating the day that Nazi’s killed a bunch of Jews as fast as possible when they knew they lost the war. Emancipation Day seems better, especially because much of the events behind Juneteenth are a myth, as the slave owners knew what was going on and so did the slaves. Stubborn slave owners were just hanging on to their slaves, their “investments”, as long as possible and they continued to do that for some time after “Juneteenth”. It really feels like highlighting this day is highlighting that there were many slave owners that didn’t want to give up their slaves until they were forced to instead of highlighting the victory and the actual beginning of the end. We could do this forever and define sharecropping as just continued slavery.

    If we really want to move forward, we should be celebrating and highlighting the victories and values that we want to embrace, not the stubbornness of the enemy that actually succeeded in being stubborn even after Juneteenth. July 4th wasn’t the day the War of Independence drove out the very last Red Coat on American soil.

  23. How about another state holiday? Let’s call it “Decend’ (pronounced “descend”, for you un-woke conservatives), and make it the end of December…….the 31st. It will provide state workers a double day off, in conjunction with New Years Day, and con-celebrate both the last day of the previous, catastrophic year, and our collective annual ‘descent’ into the Hell of societal collapse.
    Just a factual tidbit here: the black population in the state of Alaska is 3.6%. If two paid holidays are honored in tribute to this fine minority,

  24. Okay Elvi since everybodys pockets are overflowing with cash thanks for letting us know how important this day means to all of us. I am sure this is much more important than meeting the needs of education to get Alaska out of the bottom of the barrel when it comes to testing scores but at least they will be well informed of black history. Since there is such an abundance of cash floating around how about a few million more for George Floyd day. Without his sacrifice I am quite sure blacks would still be dying on the streets but thanks to him everyone is safe at home.

    Maybe next year we can start working on reparation payments as well to help alleviate all the suffering you’ve had to endure. Thankfully there were thousands of Union soldiers willing to step up to the plate and sacrifice their lives to free your ancestors from slavery without expecting reparations for their descendants as well.

    • Duuuuh, actually, there is a difference:
      On a holiday, one has to use one’s own resources for leisure.
      On a working day, one uses the state’s resources for leisure.
      Got it?

  25. As if state employees needed another excuse for nonattendance, a holiday made up by liars who are attempting to rewrite historical facts.

  26. You know, on further thought, maybe we should just make a deal with the senate and designate everyday a holiday. If they are not in session, maybe they could do less harm?

  27. These are the kind of tactics too, by the way, that Mao used to discredit the entire past so he could inject radical “progressive” ideas that didn’t need to honor any of the past principles, cultures, and traditions that were carefully discarded, honed, forged and shaped over the test time. He wanted to teach children that they have been lied to by their parents so they would trust his version of the state more than their own family.

    A progressive will read this and roll their eyes because they believe Juneteenth is about carefully changing our culture and traditions by better understanding the past, but it is not. It’s about telling everyone we have been lied to, when in reality it wasn’t some big cover up. The US has just wanted to celebrate more the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln, MLK, Booker T. Washington, etc. for very obvious reasons. Again, July 4th isn’t the last day that a Red Coat touched American soil. Mt. Rushmore has Abraham Lincoln, not the guy that tracked down John Wilkes Booth after he escaped for 12 days.

  28. Sally, if you ever raised children, you will realize children are not to blame for being spoiled. Rather, the blame goes to parents. Continued pandering of spoiled children only makes him worse. Do not fall into the trap of focusing on symptoms rather than problems. Who are the metaphorical adults creating problems that cause these symptoms.

  29. Was it saying Dunleavy is useless or my acknowledgement this is virtue signaling crap?

    Totally your prerogative, no doubt. Just curious the offense.

  30. I’m sure the state employees would much prefer a raise than another day off. Days off don’t put money on the table (unless you are moonlighting somewhere).

  31. Give them the day off without pay because it’s not about the money…right? It’s about celebrating the day when, supposedly, some random Union soldier rode into Galveston to announce that everyone was free. Obviously a super important day. Maybe we could identify…or make up…similar days for all of the other states and send everyone home to celebrate on those days…unpaid of course because we don’t want to cheapen such an almost holy day with money. Maybe we could send the government employees home for many, many unpaid celebratory days and everyone wins…they get time off toward a better work-life balance and all of us taxpayers who don’t get paid to not work can save some public funds.

    • That’s what the commies want, Nicole. White slaves shouldn’t have nice homes and bank accounts. Remember Obama saying,…….”you didn’t build that!”

  32. If as you say the State employees don’t actually do anything, why would you care if they get another day off??

  33. It appears our glorious Senate can’t find its way out of a paper bag, even with a flashlight. Juneteenth isn’t even a thing much less a legislative thing. Oh but we MUST virtue signal lest we be thought of as RACIST. What a bunch of garbage. We need to do something about the legislators who are so afraid of their shadows that this is the only thing left for them to do. GET REAL!

  34. Dawg, BINGO! Covid proved that point. See my comment to Art above for reference.
    I say send them home more often, for the majority of State Departments this would not even be noticed.

  35. I think the headline is blatantly dishonest. There is an insinuation that the entire reason for the holiday is so state employees can have another paid holiday. It seems that the bill sponsor wants to celebrate juneteenth and whatever goes with that. The headline should be the senate votes for juneteenth. I don’t think we need another holiday because there are already plenty. Every group out there will start demanding a holiday for their people.

  36. Cost to state is $4 million (actual plus value) to add this paid holiday for state workers. $1 million for overtime for those need to work that day (troopers, correctional officers, etc.) and $3 million in lost work by other state workers who get the day off. The average paid holidays by private sector companies ranges from 7.7 to 8.5 days. The State of Alaska currently has 11 paid holidays; this bill would take number up to 12. I have no problem recognizing and celebrating the day as it is a significant point in our history; I do have a problem with the public sector having an advantage over the private sector in terms of paid holidays at taxpayers’ expense. And it’s not just tax dollars. Is a business that can’t afford to offer this holiday going to be viewed as uncaring, dare I say, be pegged as ‘racist’ and lose customers? Will the businesses that decide to add this holiday going to up their prices to cover it – you better believe it. So now it’s not just about tax dollars, but also about consumer dollars. I agreed with David Wilson’s comments – he too was a ‘no’ vote – and if you haven’t listened to his floor speech, I recommend you do so.

    • Tell the people how many state workers only get 37.5 hours a week and how much money the state saves from not giving them a full 40. Go on; I’m waiting.

      • The princess and old lady sketch come to mind. It sounds like you’re viewing the fewer hours that workers aren’t on duty as a savings to the state – and if you calculate based on an hourly salary, that’s one way to look at it. I view it differently. A full-time worker in the private sector being paid $62,000 per year, for example, works 40 hours per week. A full-time worker in the public (SOA) sector being paid $62,000 works 37.5 hours per week. I see that as losing out on 2.5 hours worth of work for that employee each week; in fact, we’re losing out on 2.5 hours for every state employee each week. Not sure total number of state workers when UA is included but think it’s about 20,000, so we’ll use that number for discussion purposes. 20,000 x 2.5 x 52 (weeks) = 2.6 million hours lost. Divide 2.6 million by 2080 (work hours in a year for 1 employee) and you get 1250. Essentially what this means (if the 20,000 number is an accurate estimate) is that if full-time state workers and UA workers worked 40 hours per week instead of 37.5 hours per week, we would need 1250 less employees for the same output of hours (total number of hours worked).

  37. Certainly, many great comments especially by Art and Wayne — my vote for the superior comment is :
    “George May 11, 2023 At 8:52 pm
    The purpose of this “holiday” is to pick at old wounds, re-establish racial enmity, and divide the American people. We were doing great until Hussein Obama and his race riots came along.”

  38. We voted twice to move the Capital, shows how out of touch the rulers are with the people. The crap out of Juneau and our voting apparatus too often doesn’t represent the people.

  39. Wrong. The entire DOC won’t get double pay. Just the facilities where people are in custody. Most state workers don’t even get 40 hours a week. Let’s calculate how much money the state saves by not giving them 2.5 hours of pay every week. That’s about two weeks of pay per year. Even with 13 paid holidays that still doesn’t make up for the loss of hours..then you’re going to complain about Sundays? Hahaha!!

    • It’s all so simple when you don’t know what you’re talking about! Most DOC employees are COs and work either a 42 hr. week or work an 84 hr. shift across two calendar weeks. A holiday worked for either results in time worked at straight time and time and a half for time worked as holiday pay, so in simple terms, double time and a half for a holiday worked.

      Administrative and most support employees are either general government or supervisory unit employees. Most are OT ineligible but they would be entitled to holiday pay. Those who are OT eligible who had to work the holiday would get time plus time and a half for time worked on the holiday. When I left there weren’t many Labor, Trades, and Crafts employees left in DOC but some Cooks, Food Service Workers, and Maintenance employees remained. The LTC has guaranteed Regular Days Off so any work on the first RDO is time and a half and the second RDO is double time and a half. If the RDO worked is also a holiday, they get holiday pay at time and a half as well. We put some anti-pyramiding language in the last agreement during my time but I don’t know how it has been implemented. In any event, I don’t think holiday pay on top of RDO worked pay would be pyramiding.

      37.5 hours has been the standard workweek for most employees since Territorial days. If we’d wanted to put all employees on 40 rather than 37.5 it would cost 6.7%. We’ve been back and forth with it and it was something of a ritual for freshman Republicans from the Mat Valley to introduce legislation to force employees on to a 40 hour schedule. We put the non-reps on 40 hrs. a time or two. That was mostly a joke because most non-reps would love to only work a 40 hour week. We dealt with the scheduling issues by getting some workweek flexibility for employees in direct constituent contact or in 24-7 operations and just walked away from the issue; it simply isn’t worth it. For your basic OT eligible paper shuffler it isn’t worth the 6.7%; send them home at 4:30.

  40. Shower, Hughes, Wilson and Myers are now labeled “racist” for not supporting this piece of bogus legislation. Those four senators all deserve bravery medals. The other 16 are feckless cowards.

  41. Just an opinion: They designed “holidays” all wrong. I have no problem with employees choosing to recognize a special day of significance to them, or exercising an option to take the day off if religious ritual or other commitments demand. I do, however, believe the employee should be given the option of taking the day off without pay, or to show up and collect a regular day’s wages (not time-and-a-half or double-time) for work performed or time invested.
    The other option might be to make all public employees wages (including legislators) subject to annual approval of taxpaying residents as a ballot issue. I’m betting that would increase voter turnout more than any other single issue?

  42. So our PFD is lowered to give state workers & politicians a holiday. Thanks for nothing!

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