Commission recommends two new paid holidays for city workers

In this June 19, 2020, file photo, protesters chant as they march following a Juneteenth rally in Brooklyn, N.Y. AP photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

The Palo Alto Humans Relation Commission is recommending two new paid holidays for city employees: Cesar Chavez Day and Juneteenth.

Council decided to celebrate these holidays ceremoniously last year, but not to close city business for them.

Union negotiations this summer gave employees one paid “day of reflection” to take on any workday.

The city currently has 12 other paid holidays, Community Services Director Kristen O’Kane said in a report to council.

It would cost the city $635,000 in salary to add a day off, she said. The city typically suspends some parking enforcement on holidays. Private construction might have to be paused too, depending on the permit.

Council will discuss the Human Relations Commission’s recommendations, which passed on a 4-0 vote, at a meeting on Sept. 11.

Commissioners were evaluating holidays that have to do with race, at council’s request in March 2022.

Commissioners said establishing certain days as paid days off, instead of letting employees choose, gives “weight, meaning and awareness” to holidays that the community values, O’Kane said.

Cesar Chavez Day would be celebrated with a holiday on March 31.

The city could also observe Dolores Huerta Day then, even though her official holiday is on April 10, the commission said.

Palo Alto should join in with East Palo Alto’s annual Juneteenth celebration, the commmission said.

Didn’t recommend remembrance days

Commissioners didn’t recommend a day off for Holocaust Remembrance Day or Armenian Remembrance Day. They suggested connecting with local Jewish groups and issuing a proclamation for Armenians.

Any changes would require city representatives to meet with the unions first, O’Kane said.

Council members last talked about holidays in September 2022, when they removed Columbus Day from the calendar and replaced it with Indigenous People’s Day and Italian Heritage Day.

The day, on the second Monday of October, remains a paid holiday with new names.
Neighboring cities and counties have between 12 and 17 holidays per year, and Palo Alto has 13, O’Kane said.


  1. To make holidays fair to the residents and emploees only city employees who are Christians should get Easter off, only Pilgrims and Native Ameicans employees to get Thanksgiving off, only Veterans who are employees to get Veterans Day, only African Americans employees get Juneteenth, only Latino employees get Ceasar Chavez, only city employees who do good work get Labor Day off, etc, etc, etc.

  2. Re the paid Day of Reflection, let’s remember the classical myth:

    Narcissus is a figure from Greek mythology who was so impossibly handsome that he fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Even the lovely nymph Echo could not tempt him from his self-absorption.

    One certainly can’t say PA lacks self-absorption, navel-gazing etc. the desire to serve not so much.

  3. With this area being as culturally diverse as it is, and with Palo Alto’s quest to be as inclusive as possible and commemorate each group, how long will it take for EVERY day to be a holiday for some group? With no city workers on the job and actually working any longer, city services will eventually have to be provided by private contractors.

  4. Next time the city has a tax on the ballot, I’ll remember these two unnecessary holidays and the money we’re wasting on them. Good reasons to vote “no” on any tax the city serves up.

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