Make Juneteenth a Permanent State Holiday

Following is a statement by Local 100 President Tony Utano:

Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, marks the end of slavery in the United States, one of the most important days in the history of our country.

The events of the past month, sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a criminal cop, are bringing new focus and meaning to this year’s recognition. The fight for racial justice is far from won in this country.

The police reform legislation enacted by New York, along with the executive order signed by Gov. Cuomo ordering local governments across the state to institute additional policing reforms or face loss of state funding, are important steps on the road to a more just society.

We also applaud the Governor for today issuing an executive order declaring June 19, 2020 as a holiday for State employees, which includes transit workers at the MTA.  We urge the Governor and Legislature to permanently elevate Juneteenth to a permanent official state holiday.

The nation celebrates July 4th as Independence Day from the yoke of the British Empire in 1776.  We now should celebrate Juneteenth as Independence Day for the millions of Americans whose ancestors were not free from slavery for nearly another 100 years, and who today  still must fight for full and equal treatment in American society.

TWU has a great history of fighting for equality in the workplace and in our communities, beginning with our first contract with the IRT in 1937 that brought financial dignity to black workers in the Porter title, the only job available to them at that time.  Over the next few years, the union continued to fight for, and win, equality for workers in hiring and promotional opportunities across the subways and buses. We have never stopped, and never will.