By Laura Hayes, Contributing Writer
HUDSON — After being recognized as a legal holiday by the state, the Hudson Select Board also adopted Juneteenth — June 19 — as a holiday at its meeting June 6.
The Select Board weighed the best way to observe the holiday, and specifically, how to pay town employees.
“It seems like many towns are struggling to decide the best way to observe the holiday,” Executive Assistant Thomas Gregory said.
Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, was made a legal holiday in Massachusetts in July 2020.
Gregory noted there isn’t a town document requiring the town to pay its employees for the holiday.
Gregory offered the option to treat Juneteenth as if it were a holiday named in Hudson’s collective bargaining agreements with the police, public works and fire departments. Those employees would receive holiday pay. Dispatchers would be granted eight hours of comp time, he said.
The Hudson Public Library, Town Hall and the Department of Public Works would be closed on Friday, June 18 for the holiday. The library would be open on June 19.
Select Board member Fred Lucy called it an “unfunded state mandate.”
“I think there’s option C, which is to not recognize this holiday,” he said. “There’s Bunker Hill Day, and there’s no town between here and Spencer that recognizes Bunker Hill Day. Yet, it’s been in existence for decades. … The point is, just because the state has voted it, doesn’t mean that we have to accept it for this year,” Lucy said.
The Select Board ultimately voted in favor of Gregory’s option.
Gregory said this would be the arrangement for Juneteenth this year, and moving forward, Select Board member Shawn Sadowski suggested it be worked into the town’s collective bargaining agreements.
Gregory said the Select Board could consider bringing an article to Town Meeting amending the town’s personnel regulations to include Juneteenth.