Question: Why do Truckee Meadows Water Authority managers get June 16th as a paid holiday but not ordinary workers?
Short answer: All TMWA employees will receive June 16th as a public and paid holiday beginning Wednesday afternoon.
Angie Rouse emailed Reno, Sparks and Washoe County officials and the news media, seeking their opinion of unfair treatment at Northern Nevada’s main water utility.
“Truckee Meadows Water Authority only allows management to observe the June 16 holiday,” she wrote.
“Why is that? Isn’t vacation important to everyone? Last year all employees, including management, were given vacation. This worries me, my ancestors and my children.
“All public authorities at federal, state and local level commemorate June 16th. Why is this holiday important only for the management of TMWA? And why does management exclude the majority of its employees? That doesn’t make any sense to me. I hope this is important is as important to you as it is to me.”
The RGJ contacted TMWA to learn more.
Andy Gebhardt, head of sales at TMWA, said it was the union’s fault.
“This was never a value statement as to the importance of Juneteenth or an attempt to minimize the value or importance of any of our employees,” he replied via email on Wednesday.
“It was just a contract issue that we tried to solve from the start. We respect and value all of our employees and the work they do for the community.”
He explained that some employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement drawn up between TMWA and the IBEW Local 1245 union. Last year, when June 16 was first recognized as a federal holiday, there was a letter of intent allowing all employees to have the day as a paid holiday.
“TMWA met with IBEW in August 2021 and made a proposal that would have included June 16 as an observed and paid holiday for the represented employees,” said Gebhardt. “IBEW rejected TMWA’s proposal and chose not to make a counter-proposal, choosing instead to address the issue in upcoming contract negotiations.
“Since we genuinely want to try to resolve this issue and since IBEW has made no attempt to address this issue, we have written and made available to IBEW a further letter of intent stating that June 16th will now be a public holiday for the represented employees. ”
The RGJ contacted IBEW on Wednesday to understand their side.
In an email reply Thursday morning, IBEW Local 1245 communications director, Rebecca Band, emailed: “Your timing is pretty impeccable as we signed a memorandum of understanding at 3pm yesterday giving all members of IBEW 1245 bargaining unit recognizes June 12 as a public holiday and makes it part of the current collective agreement.”
She included a statement from Mike Venturino, the union’s representative for members at TMWA, explaining why IBEW did not accept the original June 16 proposal.
“TMWA’s quid pro quo included the elimination of the previously negotiated sliding holiday for new hires – meaning that in exchange for the June 16 holiday, TMWA intended to eliminate the sliding holiday for workers employed on or after 1st Venturino said.
“Knowing that general treaty negotiations were forthcoming, we responded to TMWA stating that it is not the practice of IBEW to waive the rights and benefits of prospective members and we would raise this matter during negotiations. Ultimately, IBEW 1245 prevailed by securing the holiday of Juneteeth for all members of the bargaining unit at TMWA, while maintaining the pending holiday for both current and prospective members.”
June 16 commemorates a general in the Union Army who proclaimed the freedom of slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865. It was declared a national holiday in 2021. This year the official holiday falls on a Sunday and will be observed on Monday 20 June.
“June 16 is a celebration of freedom and equality,” Rouse wrote to the RGJ on Friday after hearing news of the policy change. “It’s a holiday to end division and celebrate equality.
“When my husband came home from work and told me that he doesn’t get June 16th off this year and that only management is commemorating the day off, I couldn’t believe the irony and knew I was acting and others Thank you to Mark of the Reno Gazette Journal and to Jenny Brekhus and Naomi Duerr TMWA Directors/Reno City Council Members for investigating this issue.”
Mark Robison reports on local government for the Reno Gazette-Journal and writes Fact Checker and Ask the RGJ articles. His position is supported by donations and grants. For this reason, the journalism he creates is free for everyone to read. If you’d like to see more articles like this, please consider sharing this article or donating at RGJ.com/donate – 100% of donations go to Mark’s salary.
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