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Healthcare and Public Service Workers Celebrate Passage of Juneteenth as a State Holiday

June 18, 2023 by  
Filed under Feature

Members of the healthcare and public service union, SEIU 1107, helped lead the fight for the Juneteenth holiday, which is critical for acknowledging the injustices faced by Black Americans and creating dialogue about policy solutions moving forward

The members of Nevada’s largest union of healthcare and public service workers, SEIU Local 1107, are celebrating the passage of Juneteenth as a state holiday. The Nevada Assembly passed Assembly Bill 140 by 40 to 1, the state Senate passed the bill by 19 to 2, and Gov. Lombardo signed it into law on June 8. Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, celebrates the day on June 19, 1865 when many of the last enslaved people were emancipated. 

The following statement is from Grace Vergara-Mactal, Executive Director, and Michelle Maese, President, of SEIU Local 1107:

“For months now, the healthcare and public service workers of SEIU Local 1107 have been helping to lead the fight in the state legislature to make Juneteenth – Freedom Day – a state holiday on June 19. This has been a priority for our union because our members are disproportionately people of color, and we believe we must build understanding, unity and solidarity across racial lines to win good jobs and a fair economy for all working people. So we are thrilled that the State Senate and Assembly overwhelmingly approved this historic bill and Governor Lombardo signed it into law. 

“Juneteenth celebrates the day in 1865 when many of the last enslaved people were emancipated. Establishing Juneteenth as a state holiday is a long overdue recognition of the historic oppression that Black Americans have faced and creates opportunities for dialogue about concrete policy solutions to address injustices moving forward. Black Nevadans continue to struggle with serious disparities in a wide range of areas, including housing, education, income and healthcare. For instance, 21% of Black Nevadans are stuck in poverty, and Black women are much more likely to die from childbirth. 

“We are deeply grateful to Assemblywoman Claire Thomas, Senator Pat Spearman and Governor Lombardo for their support. We also thank our community partners who testified in support of the bill. We will now seek to make Juneteenth a paid holiday in all our union contracts with employers.

“The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. said ‘True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.’ Together with our allies, we will continue to build our movement to make justice more present in our communities, our state and our nation.”

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SEIU Nevada Local 1107 is the largest healthcare and public service union in the state, representing nearly 20,000 workers. Together, SEIU 1107 members fight for good union jobs, quality services and a better quality of life for all working Nevadans

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