For many workers in the private sector, the day after Thanksgiving is not a holiday. For them, Black Friday, the maddest shopping day of the year, is most certainly not a paid holiday.
The same goes for Flag Day and Election Day, other tailor-made public sector paid days off. In Wilkes-Barre, Mayor Tom Leighton is fending off some activists and union workers who are demanding that City Hall close on Martin Luther King’s birthday to allow its workers to pay homage to this great civil rights leader. Between you and me, they don’t need a day off with pay to do that any more than they need one to salute Betsy Ross on Flag Day.
This brings us to a Luzerne County union, which is having a fit because its members expected to be paid the day before Thanksgiving instead of on their normal pay day which is the Friday after. But the courthouse is closed on that day because of the Black Friday “holiday.” The employees’ credit union, which is located there, is also closed.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is arguing that its members always got paid the day before a holiday. But that was before that oppressive Home Rule charter went into effect. Back then, there were a lot of past practices made by former county commissioners that we’re still paying for, like digging the county into an almost half-billion dollars in debt and shutting down the courthouse the day after Thanksgiving so county workers could hit the mall and/or recuperate from iindulging in too much turkey and pumpkin pie.
Well, with Home Rule came changes. Responding to the union’s complaint, county Manager Robert Lawton said past policies were not intended to be a contract and that it’s necessary to ensure that employees are compensated for the actual hours they worked that week. He makes a point. What if some workers left a little early on Wednesday but were paid for the full day?
Not placated, the union filed a grievance over the issue, The Times Leader reported.
“The majority of employees belong to the credit union, and this makes money for the Thanksgiving holiday inaccessible,” said Paula Schnelly, AFSCME’s union head. Surely, she’s not concerned that if union employees were not paid on Wednesday, they would be forced to choose between purchasing their medicine or a pecan pie?
Back in Wilkes-Barre, we don’t know yet whether City Hall’s unionized workers will file a grievance if they have to work one more Martin Luther King birthday in January when other public sector workers have the day off. But, according to a published report, United Steelworkers Local 5652 representative Bill Herbert told the city council that not giving city workers this day off could signal a failure to remember that MLK’s birthday ”stands for equality to everyone.” Everyone, that is, except for the private sector chumps who have to work that day.
And speaking of equality, what about Rosa Parks and Susan B. Anthony? Where are their holidays? Why should there be a day off for George, Abe and Martin but not for Rosa and Susan? Could that be construed as gender discrimination?
Last we heard, the city unions were not willing to trade Flag Day for MLK Day as the mayor suggested. But, really, shouldn’t they have to choose? NOOOOO, because if they pick Flag Day and not MLK’s birthday, some may lablel them racists. So they’re willing to take both days off with pay. Problem solved.
Are you okay with that, taxpayers? After all, you’re the ones paying the bill. Giving City Hall workers an additional day off would cost about $77,000, Mayor Leighton estimated. An insignificant amount, retired NAACP President Ron Felton, who doesn’t have to pay the bill, countered.
It’s not clear how much it’s costing taxpayers to give unionized public school teachers the Friday and Monday after Thanksgiving off.
But maybe we’re being too picky expecting them to return to their classrooms on Monday and miss out on the festivities of another anticipated yearly holiday, the first day of deer season.