Probation officers could strike in Washington County over Juneteenth federal holiday

Probation officers in Washington County could be going on strike over whether Juneteenth should be considered a paid holiday for them.

June 19, which commemorates the end of slavery, became a federal holiday in 2021. Last year, Minnesota became the 26th state to recognize "Juneteenth" – but it's not a paid holiday for all government workers, including Washington County probation officers.

Approximately 45 probation officers will vote on Wednesday whether to authorize a strike if the county fails to recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday in their union contract.

Probation officers are tasked with following up with offenders who have been released to ensure they're following the conditions of their sentences.

However, some probation officers say that they don't feel included or equal to those in other jurisdictions, like nearby Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

"After a full day of contract mediation facilitated by the State of Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services, Washington County has not budged on their position to recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday," said Joshua Loahr, Teamsters Local 320 chief negotiator, in a statement prior to the vote. "We remain hopeful that the employer will honor Juneteenth rather than careen down the current path pushing us closer to the first labor strike against the County in its history."

Results of the vote are expected to be announced through a new release once tallied.

Juneteenth is the 11th federal holiday, and the first to receive legal observance since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was designated 40 years ago.