LANSING, Mich. — State workers in Michigan are getting a 5 percent raise in 2022 and they will get paid time off to celebrate Juneteenth.
The raise and new holiday are part of a newly negotiated contract for state workers submitted to the Michigan Civil Service Commission.
“After a long period of time of not seeing any substantial moves when it comes to pay and benefits, this was a nice win for employees to see that the state is valuing that work," said Jeremy Tripp, the executive director of SEIU Local 517M.
State workers will see the raise in October and will be able to observe the Juneteenth holiday next year.
Juneteenth marks the day— June 19th, 1865— when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed and that the Civil War was over.
"It's about time that it's been recognized as a national holiday just in general. This has been something that the African American community has been pushing for years and years," said James McCurtis Jr. the second vice president of Lansing's chapter of the NAACP.
McCurtis Jr. who is a state worker himself, says the holiday is about much more than a day off.
"It symbolizes freedom, it symbolizes hope and it symbolizes promise in our country. Being that it's a paid holiday makes it even better," he said. "Juneteenth is an opportunity to for people to learn about American history and learn about what this country has gone through."
The Civil Service Commission approved the raise and new holiday at their meeting on Wednesday. The new contract covers about 30,000 employees.
“I think with this raise it’s a good first step at recognizing the work that state employees do and the services that they provide Michiganders all across the state," said Tripp.
State workers would also like to see recognition for their work during the pandemic and premium pay for essential state workers.