Goodbye, Columbus: Holiday gets nixed, at least for most

State offices will be open, the Legislature will be open. Columbus Day, a state holiday for generations on the second Monday of October, is no longer a day off – at least not this year.

For workers who wanted a break, blame it on the state’s fiscal condition.

“Due to the statutory change enacted in February as part of the budget negotiations, the Columbus Day holiday will not be observed this year,”  Jon Waldie, the Assembly’s administrative officer, wrote to the staff. “Monday, October 12,” he added. “will be a regular work day.”

Similar notes went out on the Senate side and throughout the state bureaucracy.

Within the bureaucracy, the loss of Columbus Day is only the latest in a string of issues involving when to work and when to stay home. The state workforce already takes three Fridays off each month without pay, as a result of executive orders from the Schwarzenegger administration, which has been struggling to balance the books.

It may not be the last forced day off. The administration is putting together next year’s state budget, and the expectation is that there will be another round of severe cuts. That’s because the state’s unemployment remains over 12 percent, tax revenues are down and the fiscal outlook is bleak at best. The administration is putting together the budget now, fielding spending requests from the agencies.

At least one state employee union, the Professional Engineers in California Government, said eliminating Columbus Day as a holiday violated a collective bargaining agreement with the state that identified Columbus Day as one of the “observed holidays with pay.”

The group said it was filing a grievance, because the state is “incorrect in (its) interpretation.”

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