The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 8, 2013
Legislation adds a paid holiday to California government calendar

State workers would get back a holiday they lost four years ago under the terms of legislation introduced Monday by Assemblyman Roger Hernández, D-West Covina.

The government would shut down for Native American Day on the second Monday in October, replacing what used to be the Columbus Day paid holiday on the state calendar.

If the measure becomes law, it would restore a portion of what lawmakers took away from state workers in 2009 when they thinned the state schedule from 13 paid holidays to the current 11 by axing Columbus Day and Lincoln's Birthday. Eventually, state workers received two floating days off each year that offset the lost holidays.

From the Hernández press release announcing the measure:

"This legislation is inspired by the recognition that the so-called discovery of the America's by Columbus eventually led to the genocide of Native Americans. This bill hence provides the proper respect and recognition to our Native American nations."

The wholesale elimination of the Columbus Day holiday in 2009 particularly galled SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker, who urged members to stay home that day -- although it was never clear how many followed her suggestion and risked being disciplined.

Other unions, such as the state attorneys' group, told members to show up for work and filed grievances over the losing the holidays. That went nowhere.

In 2010, the Schwarzenegger administration agreed to give employees two "professional development days" each year that are essentially floating holidays. Unlike other forms of paid leave, however, professional development days must be used each year or lost and accrue no cash value.

The Hernández measure, embedded below, does not alter state professional development days.

AB 55 Bill Introduced

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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