This time last year thousands of hope-springs-eternal U.S. government workers petitioned the White House. They asked, not for more money, better working conditions, respect or a Christmas bonus. What they asked is that Uncle Sam give non-emergency feds the day off on the Friday after Thanksgiving. A four-day long weekend so that people could spend time with their families on one of the most American of all holidays.
It didn’t happen.
But that was then, this is 2016.
Now with Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, Nov. 24) just around the corner, both grizzled long-time feds (who probably ought to know better), and fresh new hires with high hopes are again asking what are the chances that the government will provide a 4-day jump start to the traditional Christmas shopping season. Their arguments are sound. An extra day to shop-till-you-drop would benefit many merchants, restaurant owners, parking lot moguls and the malls of America. Even though the ultimate American mall, the giant Mall of America in Minnesota has announced its people won’t have to work on Thanksgiving day. It’s the first time those employees have had Thanksgiving Day in four years.
The fed-saturated Washington-Baltimore metro areas would benefit, for sure, from a 4-day weekend just before Christmas. But so would other cities — Huntsville, Alabama; Ogden, Utah; Oklahoma City; Charleston, South Carolina; San Antonio, Texas to name a few — that are major federal centers and where many of their better-paid residents work for Uncle Sam.
Not only is the Friday-after-campaign likely to fizzle, again, but there may be even worse times ahead for people who want good times — without taking annual leave — during the Christmas to New Year period. The 2016 calendar is not in their favor. Christmas and New Year this year both fall on a Sunday, so most will get Monday, Dec. 26 off. While that’s nice, and the law, some feds wonder about the Tuesday after Monday. That could be problematic for folks seeking extra time off. When Christmas is on a Thursday or a Tuesday feds, in past, have had a shot at getting the day before (Friday) or after (Monday) off before or after Christmas. Non-emergency feds have a shot at getting the Monday after Christmas off but it isn’t, as Washington-based politicians often say, a slam dunk.
To make your own past-is-prologue (maybe) assessment, journey back to 2008 and an early speculation (Aug. 20) version of the Federal Report.
A long-time IRS worker put it like this. “I got out of the extra day off business a long time ago. If it happens, fine … so be it. If it doesn’t happen, I take the time off” But he said he knew plenty of people who came in, even when they had the day off, over the holidays. Most, he said, said they did it because they could get more work done with others missing. But in reality, he said, “Lots of them, like me, do it to get a break from visiting friends and relatives.”
So, in the likely event you don’t get a bonus day off on the Friday after Thanksgiving, what’s your plan? And if you do and plan to come into work anyhow, what’s your motive? Email your answers to: email@example.com.