The New York Times Company and Vice Media Group have made Juneteenth an official company holiday this year. They join a host of other publishers – including BuzzFeed, Condé Nast, Dotdash Meredith, G/O Media, Hearst and Vox Media – that give employees Juneteenth off to commemorate the date that marked the end of slavery in Texas and became a federal holiday when U.S. president Joe Biden signed a bill into law in 2021.
Previously, The Times and Vice Media Group made Juneteenth a flexible holiday, where employees could use extra PTO days given in 2020 and 2021 to commemorate the day.
That’s still the case at the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, which has given additional flexible paid days to employees since 2020.
As part of The Washington Post’s diversity and inclusion initiative announced in June 2020, employees were given two extra personal days each year to “use at their discretion,” such as for days of cultural, religious or personal significance – employees were given those days last year and this year, a spokesperson confirmed. The Los Angeles Times employees receive the same (the extra paid day is called a “cultural day off”).
Holiday negotiations at the Times
The Times announced back in January that non union-represented employees would get Juneteenth, Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Veterans Day off this year for the first time. As for the Times’ union-represented employees, it’s a bit more complicated.
That same month, The Times Guild – which represents over 1,300 reporters and media workers and is organized under the NewsGuild of New York – filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, launched a petition and held a negotiating session with management to get the holidays off for its members as well, according to Jim Luttrell, senior staff editor at the Times and grievance chair at the Times union. Juneteenth was made a holiday for union members a week later, he said, citing a shop paper – an internal memo to union members – sent out Feb. 1.
The union is still negotiating to get Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Veterans Day as paid holidays for its members. Employees that are part of the Times’ Wirecutter’s union follow the same company holiday calendar as employees not represented by the NewsGuild, per their contract.
“In the cultural period we’re in, I think we’re all sensitive to issues surrounding groups that have not been treated fairly or who have suffered in some way or another,” Luttrell said. By giving the holidays to some employees but not others, Luttrell felt the company’s management was using the holidays “to divide people,” he said.
“For our New York Times NewsGuild-represented employees, we’ve reached an interim agreement to provide Juneteenth as a holiday for this year, while we continue to negotiate with the NewsGuild on a new collective bargaining agreement that will cover paid time off and holidays,” a Times spokesperson said.
Juneteenth already a holiday at other companies
Other media companies have previously designated Juneteenth as a company holiday. (Juneteenth falls on a Sunday this year, so companies are giving employees the day off on Monday.)
Earlier this week, BuzzFeed’s director of diversity, inclusion, belonging and learning & development Dionna Scales sent a memo to employees to announce the holiday and providing information about its meaning.
“BuzzFeed began observing Juneteenth as a U.S. company holiday in 2020, as one step in facilitating a work culture where employees feel seen, heard, respected and included. We are committed to expanding this work – to build a culture around a shared sense of belonging and actively supporting anti-racism,” Scales wrote in the memo sent out on June 15.
“We honor Juneteenth again this year against a backdrop of ongoing racial injustice and tragic events targeting Black communities in the U.S. As systemic racism continues to be pervasive in our culture, it is critical that we use this time to advocate for Black communities, both in and out of the workplace,” it continued.
The memo contained a list of Black-owned businesses, and encouraged employees to shop at minority and Black-owned businesses. The list was created in partnership with BuzzFeed’s B.I.O. and Complex BLK employee resource groups.
Publishers’ host Juneteenth events and special coverage
Employee resource groups (ERGs) – which are employee-led groups at companies usually formed around shared identities or life experiences, such as gender, race/ethnicity, religious affiliation or interest – have planned special events at media companies like Vox Media and Dotdash Meredith to commemorate Juneteenth.
Vice’s POC community group (the company name for its ERGs) hosted a Juneteenth celebration in the Brooklyn and Venice offices on June 16. The company is also hosting an all-day event on June 18 in partnership with Adidas, called “Run By Us,” to celebrate the Black running community and promote its new documentary series “Running While Black.”
Media companies are also launching editorial initiatives and programming around the holiday. Vox launched an editorial initiative in partnership with nonprofit news organization Capital B examining the history, significance and impact of Juneteenth. It went live on June 15. Its other publications like NowThis, Thrillist, Punch and The Strategist are publishing social media stories, recipes and interviews around Juneteenth too, respectively.
Special coverage at the L.A. Times includes a portrait series highlighting Black culture in L.A., which was shared on Instagram and will be in Sunday’s newspaper. A Juneteenth event will be held on Saturday as part of the L.A. Times’ Eat See Hear outdoor movie series.
Hearst Magazines and Oprah Daily launched “Future Rising,” an editorial package celebrating the impact of Black culture on American life. It features interviews with 50 Black trailblazers, from astronauts to medical researchers. Sponsored by Lexus, the series is running across 12 Hearst brands.
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