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Oak Lodge Water workers formally encourage district to follow most other public-sector employers in area

Juneteenth was nationally recognized as a holiday starting last year, and most jurisdictions in Clackamas County are observing the emancipation-proclamation anniversary celebration on June 20.COURTESY PHOTO: ALEXA MORRIS - Oak Lodge Water Services' Water Reclamation Facility is located in the unincorporated area between Milwaukie and Gladstone.

In addition to county offices, Oregon City, Gladstone and Milwaukie's City Hall buildings will be closed. Some special districts will close their administrative offices, like Clackamas Fire District and Clackamas Soil & Water Conservation District, but Happy Valley City Hall, Sunrise Water and Oak Lodge Water offices will remain open.

Oak Lodge Water employees formally encouraged the district to follow most other public-sector employers in the area that voluntarily recognized Juneteenth as a new paid holiday.

"Our members are acutely aware of racial injustice and the importance of Juneteenth as a holiday recognizing the need to prioritize ending racism as a societal concern," the employees wrote to Oak Lodge board members.

"The tragic significance of Juneteenth relating to the last institutionally enslaved African Americans in formerly Confederate Texas being told that they are no longer slaves as of June 19, 1865, is certainly not lost on any Oak Lodge employee," they said.

Oak Lodge Board President Susan Keil said elected officials would not reopen its collective bargaining agreement with the employees union to add an additional paid holiday. Keil said the board members would "welcome discussion" of Juneteenth as a paid holiday when they begin bargaining with the union on the contract to replace the agreement expiring on July 1, 2023.

"Oak Lodge Water Services understands the importance and significance of this new federal and state holiday, and we take ending racial injustice and inequality seriously," Keil wrote. "We recognize the significance of this holiday, and we truly value all of our employees. We look forward to working with AFSCME to promote equality."

Keil said that under the current contract, any employee who wants Juneteenth off may use vacation or compensatory time, "just as is the case for other holidays or events of importance to different people. Examples are Hanukkah or the death of someone of significance to a person or a celebration of a personal event."

Keil said she asked AFSCME to let board members know of any planned Juneteenth celebrations so the board might join with employees in celebrating.

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