Juneteenth and Our Path Ahead

Today, we gather to celebrate Juneteenth, a day that holds profound significance in the history of our nation. Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with the news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free—two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed.

This day is a powerful reminder of the resilience, strength, and enduring spirit of the African American community.

AFSCME Council 5 has always been at the forefront of championing justice, dignity, and equity. We are proud to have been among the first union in the country to recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday in many of our contracts, leading the way across the country, years before Juneteenth was a recognized state and federal holiday. 

This was not merely a symbolic gesture but a concrete step towards acknowledging the importance of this day in our shared history and ensuring we learn about the experience of the Black community and their immeasurable contributions to the bettering of our country. Our union's commitment does not stop here. We will continue to fight to ensure that Juneteenth is recognized as a standalone paid holiday in every collective bargaining agreement across our union and we speak out against employers who have sought to "trade" holidays in order to recognize Juneteenth or try and make Juneteenth an unpaid holiday - this is wrong. 

Moreover, our efforts alongside our allies were pivotal in making Juneteenth a recognized state and federal holiday with the signing of this official holiday by Governor Tim Walz and President Joe Biden. 

Today is a day of celebration and togetherness. It is a day to honor the past, reflect on the progress made by the Black community, and we recommit ourselves to the values of inclusivity, justice, dignity, and fairness. Let us use this opportunity to strengthen our resolve in building a more equitable future for all!

On behalf of AFSCME Council 5, I extend my heartfelt wishes for a joyous Juneteenth to you. Let us celebrate our unity and continue to strive for a society where every individual is treated with dignity and respect and honored for their critical contributions to our country.

In solidarity,

Bart Andersen
Executive Director
AFSCME Council 5