SEIU 1021

San Joaquin County members shame Board of Supervisors for failing to adopt Juneteenth


On Tuesday, July 25, 2023, SEIU 1021 members returned to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors meeting chambers to deliver a message: “Shame on you.”

“I am speaking today with seething anger and utter dismay at the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors’ disgraceful disrespect towards the African American community and the diverse constituency you claim to represent,” said Chinse Daniels, chairperson of the SEIU 1021 San Joaquin County Chapter’s Committee on Political Education (COPE). “It is utterly embarrassing and disheartening to witness the complete disregard for the historical significance of Juneteenth and the continued marginalization of our African American community members.”

After coming to speak to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday, May 2, meeting, the Board of Supervisors failed to bring a vote to adopt Juneteenth as a paid holiday for county employees.

Juneteenth commemorates the date Union Major General Gordon Granger delivered General Orders Number 3 to enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, more than 2.5 years after President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The order instructed Black people to “remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages.” Black people took that opening to demand total freedom.

“Similarly, the county’s failure to raise the pride flag during LGBTQIA+ Pride Month demonstrates a lack of understanding of the importance of visibility and support for our LGBTQIA+ community members,” said Connie Layman, the parliamentarian for the SEIU 1021 San Joaquin County Chapter.

The rainbow Pride flag was not displayed atop the San Joaquin County Administration building during the month of June after Supervisor Paul Canepa’s motion was quashed. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted three to two to fly the flag, but they needed four votes to pass the motion.

“Pride Month represents a time when we celebrate the progress made in LGBTQIA+ rights, but it also serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges these communities face,” Layman continued. “By choosing not to raise the Pride flag, the county effectively silences the voices of those who continue to fight for acceptance and equality.

“The connection between racism, homophobia, and transphobia is undeniable. Discrimination stems from a lack of empathy and understanding for people who may be different from us. We cannot combat one form of prejudice while ignoring others. All forms of discrimination are equally reprehensible and destructive to our community’s unity and well-being.”

San Joaquin County members have been campaigning for several months to win Juneteenth as a paid holiday. The chapter circulated a petition to build support, collecting signatures from 1021 members across San Joaquin County to showcase worker power and unity. Speaking during public comment at the Board of Supervisors meeting was the next step in escalating the campaign to win Juneteenth. In total, over 2000 employees signed the petition.

The campaign to win Juneteenth as a paid holiday continues, and SEIU 1021 San Joaquin County will remember who stood on the right side of history.