First Juneteenth federal holiday causes workplace scramble

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President Joe Biden signs the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Pool photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI

President Joe Biden signs the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Pool photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

June 18 (UPI) -- The just-implemented Juneteenth National Independence Day is being observed Friday for the first time as a U.S. holiday, forcing the federal and state governments to scramble with scheduling as the postal service and financial markets run as usual.

President Joe Biden signed the legislation, commemorating the end of slavery in the nation, on Thursday to go into effect Friday. As a result, most of 2.1 million federal employees found themselves with a sudden day off.

Because the new holiday falls on a Saturday this year, federal law provides for a day off work on the previous day. But not everyone decided to close up shop.

The U.S. Postal Service, for example, noted that with the short lead time, it would maintain delivery schedules for Friday and Saturday.

"The U.S. Postal Service is fully supportive of the new Juneteenth National Independence Day Act and making June 19 a federal holiday. Unfortunately, it is not possible to cease the operations of the Postal Service to accommodate an observance over the next 24 to 48 hours," the postal service said in a statement to USA Today.

USPS noted it would maintain a normal schedule to serve "our customers to the best of our ability."

The financial markets also remained open, given the short planning period for the holiday. Stock markets, which usually close for federal holidays, stayed open and conducted business as usual.

"It's not just like turning off a light switch there's a whole process involved in closing the banking system, which could not be done in one day," a banking executive told Fox Business.

The Federal Reserve noted its offices would be closed, but financial services would be ongoing.

A number of businesses also celebrated the day and offered employees perks to work it. Large retailers such as Home Depot, Starbucks, Lyft provided employees with time and one-half for working the day.

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