June 25, 2021 08:00 AM

The Suffolk County Water Authority Board on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution making Juneteenth National Independence Day a paid holiday for SCWA employees, following similar actions by the state and federal governments.

Effective June 19, 2022, that day and every June 19 thereafter will be a day off for all employees in honor of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of enslaved people in the United States and celebrates the freedom and achievement of Black Americans.

But the SCWA Board also took the additional step of giving every employee an additional day off in 2021 in commemoration of Juneteenth; since Juneteenth marks the delay of more than two years of Black Americans in Texas learning about their freedom, the Board felt that delaying the holiday for nearly a full year would not be in keeping with what the day celebrates.

“This country is stepping up in a big way to embrace the ideals of Juneteenth, and the Suffolk County Water Authority is proud to be among the first to designate June 19 as an official holiday,” said SCWA Chairman Patrick Halpin. “This organization fully embraces the ideals of Juneteenth and respect for all cultures and races.”

“The SCWA has committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in our organization, and adopting the Juneteenth holiday and ensuring the most appropriate implementation is just a small example of our dedication to this effort,” said Board Member Jacqueline Gordon.

“The more than 350 members of Utility Workers Union of America Local 393 congratulate and thank the SCWA Board for their action in making Juneteenth an official holiday,” said Union President Barbara Yatauro. “Our members join the board in recognizing the importance of Juneteenth and its meaning for Black Americans in particular, but all Americans as well. It’s now a part of our shared cultural heritage.”

The Suffolk County Water Authority is an independent public-benefit corporation operating under the Public Authorities Law of the State of New York.  Serving approximately 1.2 million Suffolk County residents, the Authority operates without taxing power on a not-for-profit basis.

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