Commentary: The State of Holidays

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, November 21, 2008

When it comes to holidays, no one tops California State employees. They get 13 paid holidays a year.  New Years, Martin Luther King Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Cesar Chavez Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas. Plus - a personal holiday. So, 14 paid holidays in all.

No workers I could find get as many. Federal employees get 10 holidays a year; the state of Nevada gives its workers 11, Sacramento county workers get 12. The private sector is less generous. At the Sacramento Bee where I work, we get nine paid holidays a year. Of course millions of workers in California get no holidays. When they don’t work, they don’t get paid.

The governor wants to eliminate two state holidays - drop Columbus Day and combine Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays. Also, essential workers like prison guards who must work holidays wouldn’t get overtime anymore. But they would continue to get an alternative day off. The changes would save $75 million dollars a year.

Given the fiscal crisis, cutting state holidays from 14 to 12 is not too much to ask.


Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.